Time to Let This One Go?

We have a customer who usually orders one of our combination pizzas then makes several alterations to it. Sometimes, she’ll want to make several substitutions, other times she’ll want to make substitutions and then ADD toppings. Of course there is no charge for straight substitutions but we do charge for any additional toppings. This results in her frequently complaining about the price despite our constantly having to explain the difference between substitutions and additions. The last time she called, she hung up on the person taking her order. I checked his work and he had correctly calculated and quoted the price. About an hour later, she calls back, decides to get the pizza and accepts the price. When the driver gets there, however, she confronts him with previous order receipts and makes it a point to write a ZERO on the tip line.
Our constant altercations with her and her punishing people, whose only offense was delivering her food, have put us in a position where we believe some action must be taken.
Here are a few options we’re considering:

  1. Cut ties with her altogether and let her know it would be better for both of us if she found another pizza place to order from.

  2. Tell her that any more than two substitutions to a combination pizza will result in that pizza no longer being charged at the combination price but at a per-topping price.

This is difficult for us because she IS a regular customer, however at this point we’re beginning to wonder if it’s worth the hassle.


This situation is difficult to solve because it is really dependent upon the individual owner, but here is my take on it.

I have a customer who ordered a pizza back about 9 months now. At that time I was running a special so their pizza came to $10 before tax and other charges. At the turn of the new year I started a new promo, and as I do quarterly reevaluated my pricing competitiveness. This resulted in their order now coming to $12 for the pizza, and a little trouble understanding the increase. I noticed their frequency declined, and found out that when it was closer to payday they were ordering from me, but on the off days they were ordering from a competitor.

In my opinion market share is key, and I want as many people to buy my product as possible as it creates more word of mouth marketing, so I try to do what I can to keep customers happy. I evaluated my profitability on the customer at this point in time, and compared it to what it would be if I offered them a special discount. In the end after all was said done and considered, the difference was negligible, but with one aspect I kept a customer out of my competitors hands and that was a key factor to me.

So perhaps look at how much you’re really losing by giving that customer the special price. If it is hurting you financially, politely tell them that “Unfortunately we are unable to meet your expectations on price and feel that we may no longer be able to fulfill your orders.” If it’s not hurting you to give them a special deal, let them know what you are doing for them, and ask that they please keep that information private.

Hope that helps!

You thank her for the order and gladly take her money. Drama is part of the job. Find a way to kill her with kindness. Make a pizza for her, hell, name it after her so she can order it every time she calls. Give it a fair price and stick with it.

Will that really be the only time a driver gets stiffed? No. Take the good with the bad.

Implement new policies. Go with swap a veggie for a veggie, a meat for a meat or veggie, but a veggie for a meat or extra cheese is an upcharge. I’m glad when people ADD toppings to a pizza, it means more money.

Yes, customers can be frustrating, and its easy for me to say as an outsider how to handle her, but she is a regular!

Something very similar happened to me. We have had a very popular special with 2 large pizzas breadsticks and a 2 liter. Two liter prices kept climbing and climbing and we decided to change to WITHOUT the 2 liter. we had an every Friday customer that all of a sudden just stopped ordering after 5 weeks of nothing I thought maybe its the new coupon I sent them 5 special coupons that have the 2 liter in it and boom every week again. yes customers can be pain in the rear but I would rather they are my pains then my competitors

If we were in the same market, I would love to have her as a customer. So, there’s your answer.

Well here’s from another angle.
All our pizzas are “named” eg works, meat lovers, bbq chicken etc and the menu shows the toppings of each pizza. Our menu also states "all additional toppings charged for. No substitution for toppings removed". We put in POS to expedite orders and to reduce previous errors when manually working out pricing so I don’t want to go back to slower order taking and pricing errors.
Our POS is set up to charge for all additional toppings and does not deduct for toppings removed. Of course it can be manually overridden but I don’t want every staff member changing prices, for obvious reasons of what could happen.
We don’t have any problems with customers with this.
The thing is when adjusting to one customer is that staff will start doing it for all because a precedent has been set. Also where do you draw the line with this lady, especially as she is constantly changing and then adding but never wants to pay extra. No-one here gets any food products for free so why give it away.
I might sound hard nose and unwavering to customers demands but in the end of the day I am running my business to my business model, not the customers running me.
I have experienced a scenario early in the piece where the previous owner gave 50% off to a household with 12 kids who used to buy 6 biggest pizzas, plus garlic breads and drinks every 2nd week. I cut it down to 25% off then gradually decreased the discount. They complained bitterly so I asked the guy who owns a very profitable building business to quote on renovations to my house. Not only was he ridiculously expensive he got narkey when I asked for him to do the job at a 25% discount. He couldn’t understand why I should get a discount while he demands one every order. Guess where their discount went to :wink:
In the end of the day you choose if you want to discount you value or cut the losses. Believe me, once you give she will want more and more - “you did it last time, why not this time”

exactlly. Your example is a great example of the owed mindset of people today. And, here I thought it was just an American thing…

Try being a musician. Club owners, private buyers, advertising people, no one seems to understand why we insist on being paid for our services. Especially people who are doing charity events: “We can’t pay you because we want everything to go to the charity”. But, they’re paying the caterer, the room, the party equipment…why should the band not get paid, in that case?

My philosophy, through multiple versions of my professional life in pizza, retail, wholesale, and college IT, has worked well, and I quote myself, thusly:

The Customer is always right, unless The Customer is wrong. In that event, it is MY job to educate The Customer as to the shortcomings of his or her request, and do so in such a manner that I will be thanked endlessly for telling The Customer that he or she is a clueless pain in the ass who should be grateful that I’m willing to waste any more time on him or her

There is no excuse for being walked on by the customer. There is no excuse for my losing a customer who tried to walk all over me. Compromises can be made, yes, but if the compromises cost me money I’m losing, and the customer will go elsewhere anyway.

The other thing important to me is that I NEVER hear a staff member complain about a customer to other staff. Should they have a problem, they come to me, or they discuss it off premises. Those discussions never will happen in the dining area, or any public area. The best place is out the back door by the dumpster, that way no customer will hear us.

I think SirSilk nailed it on the head. Take all the substitutions she is making and make a pie specially for her, then put a non negotiable price on it. Great idea.

Seems most people are missing what this lady does: She does NOT order the same pizza every time, so the idea of naming or making an official one just for her won’t work. My take on the situation? It’s your store, it’s your decision. Only you can decide if she is a big enough pain to “fire”, but if you are concerning about her bad mouthing you for it - be aware that she probably already does it.

I’ve got to to side with Wa Dave on this one. But, where’s the “Menu Integrity” in all this? If it’s a “Combo” pie, then it’s set toppings. And yes, if they want to delete toppings, fine. But, you can’t run any sort of volume and be accurate 100% if you allow Customers to change everything. That doesn’t me “We” don’t give them what they want, but rather charge them accordingly. And, please, enough with ALL the coupons!