School Contracts

Forgive me if I jump around. I had a long busy day.

The other day, might I mention my first day back at work after spending 5 days in jamaica, I got a packet of information from my local school district’s purchasing dept.
They offered me a chance to bid on the school contract for next years pizza. I am the closest pizza joint to the district offices and I have a great relationship with most of the employees of that building. The first thing that runs through my mind was…who is doing this now? and why in my fourth year of business am I finally hearing about this?

It is very specific. The thing that pops out the most- they want a nutrition label. Where do I start? I need a food chemist?..thats gotta be expensive.

Right now Im about $3.00 in a box for a 16 in pie. do I bust my a$$ for $8.00/ pie? I don’t think I’m getting $9.00? I may even be stretching for 8?

We just put in $20,000 worth of ovens and exhaust. I wouldn’t mind something like this to make good use of what we just bought.

If I do the pizza do you think it will help me in the eye of the community? all these kids eating my pizza at school?

Who has done/ is doing this currently?

I did a school contract when I worked for a franchise and it was a major pain in the a**. The bid has to be dirt low, I think $8 for your pizza will not even put you in the ballpark. LC or Dominos will be in the $5 - $6 range from my experience. If you do get the bid are you willing to be pumping out cheap, cheap pizzas during your lunch rush or invest in commercial warmers to hold the pizzas if you make them early. Your pizzas must arrive at the school with an internal temperature of 200 degrees (this may be off a little but I think that is the temp standard). I would just concentrate on more profitable business if it was me, but hey that is just my opinion.

I agree, you will probably not be in the realm with an $8 pizza. Most bids will be between $5 and $6 bucks. Very little labor cost involved in a daily order known about ahead of time. It’s definitely a pain in the a$$ but if you are selling 200 five dollar pizzas five days a week with a $1.30 margin after labor and utilities(your food will probably decrease a bit with an extra 1000 pizzas worth of food purchased a week) it would seem worth it. If it looks to be 40 pizzas, I would bid only to get the order if it was worth it. no sense busting you butt at 8:30 AM just to make a few dollars.

As far as good will goes, I have heard some stories of schools keeping the leftovers till the next day and reheating them. How good does that make your product seem? You have to find out the details and understand you will become a household name, but not necessarily the household name that you always wanted.

If you can figure out the cost of the product, the same method can be applied to determine the nutritional figures.

For example, take the nutrition label from the bag of flour and figure out how many servings or fraction thereof you put into each 14" pizza to generate the calories, protein, and so on that flour contributes to the whole pizza. Then do the same for the other ingredients until you have the numbers for a dough ball.

Once you get the dough calculated, the rest should be easy. You may have to get your cheese and meat nutrition facts sheet from the suppliers, but they have to be available. Veggie data can be found on the internet for stuff like onions and green peppers. Get the total for one pizza and divide by the number of slices to get the “per serving” amount.

Tom the Dough Doctor also has someone at AIB who can create the nutrition labels for you at a reasonable price.

We did these for a few months last Fall. Getting your nutritional information isn’t to hard, I did exactly the way Brad described. Info on your toppings is on the manufacturers website.

You’re likely going to want to do a 14" pizza, since that’s what they’re probably use to and it will help your bid price. Our district assigned one day a week to everyone who bid, we had Wednesdays and usually did about 20 pizzas and they were delivered to the school before we even opened, so it really wasn’t that much extra work. I just had someone come in an hour early to prep and made sure the Tuesday night crew had dough and everything ready.

Request previous winning bids, our school district supplied them and seemed quite amused that someone finally did (thinks to Royster for the tip on that). Bids varied pretty wildly with the bottom being PJ’s at $4.50/ea and a decent sized regional chain being at $7.50/ ea. I bid so I made about $60 in profit each morning for minimal added work. Not a big deal, but it adds up. I will say this, they were miserable people to work with and would complain about something 75% of the time. :roll:

They may have a spec sheet detailing their expectations for amounts of cheese and toppings to put on the pizzas. Take a good look at those numbers. It’s not so difficult to make a competitive bid when you use National-chain portioning to make a 14" pizza.

Sometimes you just have to “sell yourself”…only not in the way the marketing textbooks teach. [size=2]Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.[/size]

Let’s not forget that Mrs. Obama says pizza and kids/schools is BAD JUNKFOOD! I agree with the idea that this will promote your product, but the finished quality of the served product is a little out of your control and the headaches might not be worth the work. I also question why it has taken 4+ years for the people that do like your product to approach you? Then there is the worse case senario of what happens if someone gets sick after lunch. 99% chance it was not your pizza…but one or two sick kids that ate pizza turns into 100 stomach aches and very fast word of mouth advertising for you…and not the good type. I would sit back and take a hard look at this one. I am all for community and school involvement but it can have its pros and cons. Good luck.

When we were 1st awarded a school contract, we used it to leverage and quickly pay off a loan to change out our old double stack of ovens with newer triple stacks at both stores.

Getting the school contract really helped our regular sales - we needed a triple stack at each store on Friday night before too long. Absolutely nothing in marketing a food business compares to actually putting product in a customer’s mouth. Once the kids tried our pizza at school, we became an option for the family pizza at home.

When we 1st got the contract, it was based off of a taste test with kids from the High Schools voting along with the lunch ladies. Our bid was more expensive than many other there, but emphasis was placed on giving the kids what they wanted so we got it anyways. We served our product and everything was wonderful.

In the last year we serviced the schools, we had to split the contract with one of the National Chains. We took turns alternating days. My assumption was they were trying to determine whether or not quality really mattered. In that year, a new set of lunch ladies decided that our properly cooked pizza was “too dark” so we were forced to way undercook our pies or they would be sent back as “burnt.” It killed us to send pizzas out that way - they had to be awful.

The following year and every bid opportunity since, the lowest bid has gotten the contract with ties going to the National Chains. Clearly, the National Chain was selling just as many slices (and likely more since ours were yucky) than we were in that comparison year.

For this year’s attempt, I’m using our regular ingredients to create a pizza especially for the contract. The finished product is way different than what we normally sell. I’m crunching the number on our bid this weekend.

They probably wanted to be sure he was going to stick around and would be able to handle it. Our school corporation makes you put up a bond equal to 5% of your total bid. So, you have to be able & willing to set aside $5,000+ to even be allowed to make an offer around these parts. That has definitely weeded out the rinky dinks.

You noticed that too?

Things to mention about my experience with school orders. Every pizza you take to the school will have to be “perfect.” We had to make sure every slice was the same size (to the point we actually put down tape on the cut table to use as a guide). Every pizza must hit temperature when it arrives at the school. I cant remember what our temp requirements were, i’m thinking 140 to 160 degrees internal. We also had to leave the delivery bags with them so they could keep them warm. We also had a couple mornings where they had forgotten to send the order in before hand (ours changed periodically). Had we not called them to check on it, things would have gotten very interesting. Also, if your district is anything like ours, expect some “creative” discounting for errors on a pizza. For me, the school subtracted what they lost in profit off a miscut pizza from what we were charging them, which made for some really cheap pizzas (and my cut guy wondered why i got so agitated when he cut a pizza into 8 slices instead of 6!)

My advice to you is to really consider how cheap you’re willing to go and how stressed out you’re willing to be before leaping into the bid. Also figure out how hard it will be to get out of the contract if you decide its not worth it.

We used an Equaslice from We still use this for our lunch slices… well, at least for a while after I catch them not using it and get angry.
There are also wire guides that allow you to do the same thing with a rolling pizza cutter or a knife.

We just received the official letter to let us know we were awarded our local school lunch contract for 2011-2012. Woot!

Hook 'em while they’re young!!! :mrgreen:

Okay, I revoke my Equaslice recommendation… well, sorta.

We’ve gone from cutting the pizzas with it to just using it to mark the pies for cutting with a wheel. Wasn’t getting them separated well enough for the lunch staff’s liking and our new cheese was sticking to it something awful using it as intended. It does work great though as a marking device!

So, my new suggestion for consistent cutting would be something like this product:

Dang…and if all else fails… put a chain on it and head on down to Medieval Times! :shock: