What you learned at Pizza Expo this year

I was able to catch the tail end of the event. I’ve been going to the show for several years now before I opened my first pizza place. It’s been my ‘go to’ source of info as well as this forum because I’ve never worked in a pizza place prior to opening. After being in the business for a year now, I go to the show with a different purpose and mindset every time. The seminars are really helpful, but brief! One hour isn’t enough to change my years of bad habits. Now, at least I know what I need to do, before I was flying blindly.
This year I saw many more companies offer Rewards programs, Social media, and online ordering then ever before. Of course for a fee, they all can assist you with reaching out to customers and eventually increasing your sales.
That’s what’s kinda scary, being a new business on tight budget, it’s tough in today’s environment. For ex.
-Pos company wants $150 monthly service, plus extra for mapping service.
-Rewards company wanted from $69 all the way up to $150.
-Social Media and direct mailing experts. same as rewards.
-Online ordering company, percentage of sales or flat fee as well.
Not saying these are necessary for success but interesting to see how important they are becoming. Of coarse I can do all these on my own, but that’s just adding another layer on my plate which is already full.
Hoping you can share about your experience as well.

I learned and witnessed a lot in my first pizza expo. Been wanting to go for 13 years and finally made the trip on Tuesday. Similar setup to other food shows I’ve been to.

I learned it’s silly to eat breakfast before going to the Expo at 10am. My pizza tastes way better than most everything I tried at the Expo ;). I learned La Nova and Fontanini go all out at their booths! I learned not to ask the models about specs of the products. I learned there was about 25% of the people there that only spoke Italian.

The stone conveyor oven by Italforni was disappointing and one of the main reasons I chose to go this year. No blower in their conveyor, just high heat and stone planks on a conveyor. The crust bakes to a soft limp crust and the top doesn’t get cooked hardly at all. They only were doing demos for a 3 minute run and apparently have a contract with Roundtable for all new units opening. Add a blower or two and I bet they could nail less than 3 mins full runs. Still makes me wonder what they could do with less heat and perhaps 5-6 min run so a quality pie could be made but they weren’t willing to change the times in demos because the dough they used for their pizzas might burn at that time length, etc.

I also mainly went for one other reason but after speaking with them, I learned to keep this to myself and am very excited to seek out adding this new venture in the near future!

I learned that I have many friends from around the world in this industry that are much smarter than I am. I have learned from other attendees as much as I have from the sessions. If you order the recordings of the sessions you can experience Pizza Expo all year.

I ran into a couple I had met four years ago who were struggling to stay open. I had given them an opinion on some of their issues and wished them the best. This year they told me they had saved their business because of what they had learned at Pizza Expo.

I learned that a lot of little glasses of Heineken beer at the party leads to a BIG head ache Thursday morning.

I’m down to going just every 3 or 4 years now. I went last year so you won’t see me there for a while. A few years back my food supplier got me badges as normal but there was a screw up and they gave me “vendor badges”. Boy was that nice. All the sales vultures ignored me.

It is kind of fun to watch a few things there.

  • Its fun to watch the guys stumble onto the La Nova island. As the “models” pass out wings. I wish I could of been there as Joe asked for specs on the product. She probably thought “specs” were the little dots of seasoning on the wings.

  • Its fun when the sales vultures say they will save me money on whatever thing they are selling. My stock answer is always. " I want to spend more money, so this product won’t work for me.

  • I’m amazed at how crappy all the the samples look and taste. I still eat them though. That’s why i’m fat. People will buy your badge from you for $2 when you are leaving so they can come eat.

  • Its kinda fun when someones demos their product and it doesn’t work. But I do feel a little sad for them too. Mixed emotions.

  • My wife always feels sad for the people with no one at their booth. So she will go talk to them and pretend to be interested. Then when we get home I have all these pamphlets on stuff that has no relevance to us.

All kidding aside. I have been to 15 of these and have learned a ton. Thank you Pizza Expo People. Just get rid of non pizza booths. Foot massage booths, cell phone repair and gold chain by the yard.

I have been to EXPO for 8 years and just went thru the motions but this year I listened watched some demos and started implementing changes Friday. My manager and shift leader looked at me like I was crazy for trying to change the recipe and and dough weights , but the biggest surprise to me was when I started looking at my YELP reviews and discovered this


what a douche now I have to hope Yelp will remove it

this was my first pizza expo. I am glad I went and got to hang out 2 days with my friend Norma Knepp. That was the highlight as well as meeting many people I only knew from the net like Daddio, Tom Lehman, Paulie Gee, John Arena, Albert Grande, Tony Maroni, and lots of new people from around the world. I doubt I will do another one as Vegas is not my thing. The smoking in the casino of the hotel meant I had to walk 200 yards through it to get to the room elevators and the bowl of oatmeal that cost me $27 was beyond obscene. I live in Reno and will stay here next year and was really happy to get back to our shop. We closed Tues/Wed but made up for it Thur, Fri, and tonight, with lines out the door and packed from open to close. Walter


We fart on every pizza we sell, its our secret ingredient

I learned that I love Upper Crust Cinnamon filled things…


Aside from that… I dunno - competition is crazy but I want to go back! Look forward to the recordings as I don’t do the sit down seminars.

Last year was our first pizza expo after 6 years of being in the business. We weren’t sure if we were going to be able to go so our trip was very last minute we literally decided the day before. We spent both days there walking the show floor looking at all the booths trying samples that were all terrible. This year we focused more on the educational side of the expo. Our pizza is pretty solid so I’m not interested in product. We went to the think tank reunion which was fun. I got to put some faces to names which was cool. The coolest part was winning 1 year free subscription to message on hold I was super excited by that. Chatting with Linda green and her daughter was real fun. Linda Steve and the rest of the pmq staff are some exceptional people. We did a couple of seminars which gave us some good marketing insights a lot which can be found in this forum but one major tip I took home was not doing the norm when it comes to marketing but doing stuff completely out of the norm to get people talking. I was also reminded about going above and beyond when it comes to customer service and showing the customers that you really do care about and value them. On Monday night I pulled all my staff together and had a quick meeting about this as we all forget after being caught up in the routine of working. I want us to be the best in town when it comes to customer satisfaction. Another good seminar we did was big Dave’s thanks for the job I’m going to steal you blind. This seminar was very entertaining and was also another reminder and eye opener of what to watch out for with employees I realized I need more cameras and accountability for my employees as we were getting a little lax with the rules. What we didn’t do this year was any food sampling desserts were the exception and only visited the booths that were of something that we needed. I’m not crazy about Vegas either but we did not stay in a casino and tried to treat this as a small getaway with the husband which is nice because it’s a tax write off!

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