Special Requests

How many orders on average have some sort of special request? Something you wouldn’t have button for/ something you’re not sure how much to charge for or if you should at all.
I ask because it seems like every order is some kind of request-“can you mix ranch and buffalo sauce on my pizza?” "Can you put my sub in a pizza box?"etc
I sold 14 appetizer samplers tonight-9 of them wanted no this more that all different. I know its the business but up until about 5 months ago special requests were not that common.
Its creating tension with my employees, sometimes I think one particular employee purposely does special requests wrong to point out the fact that there is no set procedure on how to do it. I just want to say- Im never going to have enough buttons for everything a customer asks for!
Does anyone have any pointers on how to deal with it?

I know i am in the minority here, but i don’t care. If the option is not in my POS, then you can not order it. PERIOD.

Can i do what your asking for, almost always yes, can i charge you for it correctly every time. Usually no as it would require special overrides in the system and even then it probably would not get inventoried correctly.

This whole obessions with letting people think they can get whatever they want, whenever they want is the problem with society in the US. Kids grow up thinking that are special little snow flakes who can get everything they want right now. The biggest lesson my parents taught me growing up, You never get everything you want, deal with it.

I am more in the “give the customer what they want” camp… but even that has limits. We do not do 1/4s or 1/3rds for example. Our POS is set up with a bunch of the more common requests such as “light sauce” “light cheese” “well done” as cooking instructions and comments like “extra parm”, “extra red pepper”, “side ranch”. The ones that cost us money have prices attached to them.

The cooking instructions come up on the makeline screen in red so we tend not to mess them up.

The one that would hang me up was “thin crust”. We make a hand tossed dough using an 18 oz doughball for a 14" pizza so it is reasonably thick. For “thin crust” we would use the next smaller size doughball… but we had a cook that liked thin crust and was selling it or in other cases the customer on the phone just meant hand tossed rather than deep dish when they ordered thin crust… I finally had to put a stop to it… We make the style we make! The “thin crust” just did not support the toppings and tended to get cold before it was delivered.

I would accommodate the customer as best i could within reason and charge for it. An employee that purposely messed an order up, no matter the reason, would be looking for new employment.

I guess it all depends on what exactly they are asking for. I don’t do half and half on a 10pc wings because I have 5pc wings in the system but with your examples of sub in a box - sure, mix sauces - why not, substituting items on a sample platter - list it on the menu as only 1 substitution is allowed and your problem will disappear.

We are in the CUSTOMER SERVICE business selling pizza and the CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE is how we get paid. The reason I am the #1 shop in my markets is because that is what is important. Put up too many hurdles and make it hard for people to do business with you and you will struggle and or be out of business soon.

I usually add the request to the special instruction section of the item. I train my employees that if the customer request has the words “add” or “extra” there is always a cost associated with it and if it’s not in the system to ask a manager. If it’s not in my pos it will be added to it at a later time (make notes so you don’t forget to add it). I figure if the customer continues to order they will continue to want the special request so why not add it to the pos. Eventually most of these request will be built into your pos menu (As far as not having enough buttons I don’t agree with that. Pos systems are able to have pages and pages added to them. Yes it’s time consuming). This will also help with your employees because it will be associated with the item on the make ticket. I do not offer any sampler patters but if I did I would not allow any substitution. Your platter is priced out according to what is included in it and just explain that to the customer, 95% will understand. A lot of customers go by the phrase that “if you don’t shoot you can’t score”, sometimes a very polite and sincere “I’m sorry but were unable to do that” will be enough and the customer will order without the request.

d9 sounds like an imminently social person who believes that he is there to provide a pleasant dining experience for as many customers as possible … Wow.

Cool D9… you are about to be social… lol

Hey D9, you are about to be social!

We had the exact same problem with our Artisan extra thin crust pizza, cooks would mess it up, but the biggest reason I took it off the menu was “confusion” after a 5 minute conversation they would usually order our reg hand tossed NY style thin crust, trying to save time and give better service to everyone. If someone remembers the Artisan crust and requests it , no problem!

Like bodegahwy said, we try to do everything within reason to accomodate. We stopped doing 1/4s because they just became unwieldy on the ticket to have to punch in everything else on the other 3 1/4s and mistakes were made because of it. But for the most part, I just have an editable kitchen note with every ticket. If they are adding something to a pre-set recipe, it’s added charge even if they are subtracting something else. It’s the only way I can keep the cost in line. Making sure they aren’t subtracting onions and adding sausage, ect. I don’t do half and half on completely different types of pizza, such as one half buffalo chicken, 2nd half bbq chicken. Most other things, I’ll say that I’ll do it to the best of my ability, but I can’t guarantee the results.

I might actually care about your post… but you are anon, so why should i care ?

Ahhh an eminently sensible response!

As Abraham Lincoln said “Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins”
Special requests are fine until they begin to disrupt ops, affect other orders, make the job unnecessarily difficult, etc
1/2 & 1/2… yup, but no more than that.
We’ll tweak stuff and we do have a TON of buttons for 99% of the requests but there are also requests that I won’t do. And some that I’ll do on Monday but will quickly say “don’t even think of trying this on the weekend” Did some weird thing for some guy and it was cool- super slow- I was on the phone w/ him and was going to make the pie… and probably cut it so… no big deal. But, I told him- don’t expect this (nicely).
Friday at 6pm he calls and starts yelling at a CSR “cause he got this last time” I got on the phone and said- "It’s true what they say ‘No good deed goes unpunished’ " and then just hung up on him.
Do you guys all have a window where you can type stuff for the special requests? Like sometimes people will want stuff tweaked but the buttons don’t exist or it’d be MORE confusing so I’ll just type “Lite Ranch, add hot sauce on 1/2, no bacon add pepp” and that’ll show up on the M/L as well as the box slip (though it won’t all make it onto the slip usually)

“I don’t do half and half on completely different types of pizza, such as one half buffalo chicken, 2nd half bbq chicken. Most other things, I’ll say that I’ll do it to the best of my ability, but I can’t guarantee the results.”

Well said, Hometown. My policy is that if the base sauce is the same, rock on, but if there are any sauce differences, nope. Some people also order the weirdest nastiest stuff- they sit home (always on-line orders) and think they either know what they are doing or… are just drunk.
It’s usually a $35 pizza so… whatever. Just keep sitting there hitting buttons and racking it up!

I’m hearing a clear demand from your customer base for a “build-your-own appetizer sampler.” You can fight it, or you can embrace it and possibly create a signature offering that generates word-of-mouth and draws traffic.

Figure out what is and isn’t feasible and what you do and don’t have to charge extra for. Lay out clear procedures on how to handle the Top 10 most popular requests and add buttons for those. This will provide a framework on how to handle those not on the list (“this is like #3 and is free, this is like #7 and cost extra”) so your staff can explain the implications to customers as they make unique requests. Add a button for “Free Request, Ask Order Taker”, another for “$ Request, Ask Order Taker” and begin rocking that customer service!

We will 1/2 & 1/2 on our regular or premium pizzas only on the large and family size. Smalls nope.
No halves on our gourmet range. These have various bases so we won’t do 1/2 with satay sauce base and the other with white garlic base etc. We have invested a lot of time to perfect the taste of the gourmets and want people to experience them without the different sauces running through each other or the taste sensation being muddled by another taste from a different half.
We also don’t do halves on make your own. Had experiences in the past with wanting 7 toppings on one half and 5 different ones on the other -= a nightmare to make and too easy to make mistakes. Eliminate these and eliminate the mistakes.
Some people ask for toppings not on our lists of toppings available and we tell them that that particular topping is only available for that certain pizza not as a general topping (usually a high priced gourmet topping kept special for a particular pizza).
We try to accommodate where possible but in the same token we are trying to make the best quality pizza to met the heavy demands in peak trading. Being everything to everyone by accommodating to their every whim will slow our bench down, make mistakes happen and generally slow everything down.
Don’t really care if they threaten to take their business elsewhere because we won’t meet their demands. Just laugh to myself and think of the other guy who will capitulate and then gets abused for stuffing up the order.
In the end of the day we have our plan to run our business to please most of the people most of the time (aim for all of the time) and not try and be the impossible one to please all of the people all of the time.
Guess everyone to their own

This is a great idea. I’m going to work on this this summer. The In n Out Burger chain out in our neck of the woods does this. They only carry burgers and fries but will accept any special request and I’m pretty sure all the possible request are right there on there computer screen. There are people who have wrote about their adventures on trying to stump the In n Out cashiers with some crazy request and from my knowledge, the cashiers take every request without blinking an eye.

If we can do it we will what i dont do is 1/3 toppings and that is probably it i have had people ask to get just a slice of whatever topping and i simply explain to them that its not feasible to get you a slice of a certain topping because when we cut the pizza it might overlap and people understand. If the request is common i add a button if not we have a miscellaneous button where we type in the request and price. Why upset the customer IMO its not worth it there are too many options for other places for people to go to. Dont forget that we are in the customer service business yes we are selling food but if the service isnt there people will not come back no matter how good your food is.

thanks for all the replies guys!
Yes I know Im in the customer service business.
We are growing lately and the busier we get the more Im pondering when to say NO.

When I make the salads in the morning using my standard iceberg fresh spinach mix and then in the middle of the lunch rush I have to run downstairs and make a customer a Greek salad on “romaine” Meaning I run into the walkin cooler grab the romaine, grape tomatoes, green peppers, carrots, cucumbers, carrots, red cabbage and open everything then make the salad thats going to feel wilted because it didn’t go through the proper procedure, meanwhile the phone is ringing off the hook upstairs it gets irritating.
When a customer asks me if they can split a 16pc tender into half buffalo half regular even though we have 8pc orders also its not bc they’re trying to make it easy for me its because two 8pc orders is more money. So if I split it, now I feel obligated to separate them in different containers which costs me money then they ask me for extra this and that after I ring them up of course.

I find if you tell them “Yes, but we charge extra for that” to work better than a “No” unless it’s a ridic request like Georgiascp stated. This way I’m giving them an option. You’re too nice and it’s costing you money/unnecessary stress immediately and later as you vent about it on here. In this case, just say “Yes, but it will come in the same container”. If they ask for more stuff after you ring them up, then say “Yes, but we charge extra for that”. They’ll either understand and say yes or no. Blame the big companies like McDonald’s that give everything away for free! Us little guys can’t afford to do that!