Portion control

I hinted to the seconds that this would add up in my first post. I agree with Paul also that the time is not the issue and that in a large output store… the little things add up. That said… stores like Nick’s in small markets also need good controls in place. The other factor here that I know can have a lot of different views is the quality and price point of your product. I am not saying it does not matter in the store that sells $25 pizzas… and does in the $7 large. What I am saying is this.

First… I think most will agree that lets say you weigh it all… time is really not an issue. Even in the busy rush… the flow keeps going and the extra minute hurts none. Seems like it’s the ovens that get behind and not the make lines… Just an outside view.

Second… The $7 pizza has a different client than the $25 pie. Again, most would agree if you order a $7 pizza you know you are not going to get a $25 one. I am not saying you cannot find a great pizza for $15… and that some $25 ones are worth it and some are not… a lot of real taste quality comes from a good balance of quality ingredients that are put together. Then attach a good but profitable price point.

Third… Back to square one. Consistancy! That is the common factor that all of your customers have in common. This is where it does not matter if you sell the $7 or the $25 pie. I want to order what I want and this the reason my family business did what it did. We gave the customer a consistant product. We sold frozen… boil in bag… ready to serve… soup! Everyone else was condensed and then it is up to the store to add water, milk, etc… and even when told how to add… you have the employee factor to deal with. We removed this. Problem is you cannot remove this in pizza making unless you want to pre-weigh every item in every size taking into account all variables…etc… CRAZY!!! Not too mention not realistic!

What to do? Well no matter what you sell you will have the employee factor to deal with. It cannot be removed. You will have a varience in usage of ingredients. You need to price the finished product to cover this and try to control the over/under the best you can. Sorry but back to that nasty CONSISTANTCY word. Now comes into play quality suppliers and employees. You need regular suppliers that always give you a consistant starting point. What if your flour was 8% protein some weeks and 14% others? You would not allow it! Veggies are tough! Having a background of ordering my veggies by the 2000# tote by the truck load… their actual physical size was… lets just say that sometimes you pay a lot for water, stems, and leaves! Employees… well that was covered already. Pay for the good ones!!!

Sorry for the split post… tired of the moving post box… I hate that!!! :x

One last comment that I know I am beating here but I think having the background I do have and the litterally millions of pounds of raw and finished materials that crossed my docks weekly that I have lived on a very large scale what the indie of 100 pies a night or 1000 a night all feel but it just was at an accelerated pace. What do we do when we get wet peppers? Let’s say that batch calls for 1000#'s of green peppers and visibly the bowl of soup has 12 peppers in it and should have 24 pieces? We paid for that water… we put in 1000#'s of peppers as the recipe required… all correct. We even had the good employee that went to the production mgr and said… hey… this 1000#'s looks like 500# but scales correct. Hmm… ok, call to next level, lab gets involved to see what the water content of the raw veggies is, purchasing calls supplier to report the issue, etc. Now comes into play the whole issue. How do we sell our consistant product that is going to a chain of 250 locations and we cannot give them the product that we base our business on? We cannot. You just dont throw more peppers in to make it look right. You have an 8# bag size… with 4 or 6 per case. Trucks go out at max capacity… cannot add an extra 4 oz of peppers per bag. What happens? It is called employee product. It is finished and sold at 1/2 of cost just to offset the labor side of the non-sellable product. Just like the cancelled or mismade order… most dont toss them… you give it to the somebody.

Sorry for the long posts but what I say next is not meant as a negative but as a helpful suggestion. The same applies to your pizza ingredients and sometimes I think many here forget this. I truly understand the need to survive and purchase your materials at the best price… but you need to weigh the real costs to doing so. Going to Sam’s or RD can give you such a difference in product from day to day that it is the customers that will see it. They both buy from the lowest priced supplier. Buying soda or paper products…etc… is a different story. Getting your primary products from reliable sources that have their own checks and balances in place will in the long run pay off. Sometimes we hear on the TT of people changing cheese or tomato sauce brands on the fly it seems. I am not saying buy big brand names but do compare the CONSISTANCY of whatever you use. You might save 50 cents a pound on cheese but how many people just said “dang… that pizza was better last time… something did not taste right!” Next time they try that new place instead! People stop at McDonalds in whatever town they are in because they know what crap they will get… I meant ok fast food! They do not choose the little diner with great burgers! Hopefully the locals do!!! This is your key market. The repeat customer that knows what you offer and what it will cost them. This applies to the small indie even more than the larger ones.

To those that are having a harder time keeping customers and surviving this economy… I would ask how many changes did you make in this time? I know you have to watch the bottom line but when you opened did you make an ok pizza and say… it’s good enough? or a great one that you thought others would buy? I am sure there are both out there! Repeat business and consistant at that is the key to almost every restaurant out there. Places like Steve’s in a resort town are unique. Correct me if I am off but you market towards hotels, resorts, etc… a whole lot more than the average town indie. The locals are the base but not the profit makers. That said… you also need that constant great product so that when the tourist asks the local where to go… YOU are the answer! If you had a slightly different pie each time… would someone send you the business not knowing 100% what they are doing? Doubtful!

What type of scale do you use?

I use scales from local department stores that typically cost $40. One brand that seems to work well for me is Oxo Good Grips.