When do you know to quit?

We’ve just past 90 days owning a pizzaria and as the old saying goes, “if I knew then what I know now”

We are just barely averaging $4K a week and total expenses equal just about that. We’re not taking any compensation - paychecks or anything else. We have tried newspaper ads, radio, doorhanging, business exchange, and numerous other marketing avenues.

Does it get easier? Should we hang on or hang it up?

Does it get easier? Should we hang on or hang it up?

Are you friggin kidding me?!! No, you don’t give up. You’ve been in 90 days and you’re breaking even. Any new sales you bring in on top of this will go to your bottom line. You’re in a good position right now brotha.

Give me some info about your shop and your town and we’ll see if we can help you pop a record week or two. -J_r0kk

P.S. Get yourself registered, please.

Here’s what I need:

  1. Population

  2. Median Income

  3. Major employers (in town or commute?)

  4. Competition

  5. Coupon specials you’re now doing

  6. Traffic count in front of store

  7. Oven type

  8. Your experience

  9. Advertising mediums

  10. Exactly what you’ve done with advertising so far (how often, what you’ve advertised, and which route you’ve used)

  11. Your POS system (or do you do orders by hand)?

TiredPizzaMaker, if I knew then what I know now I would’ve been breaking even in 90 days like you. It took me almost two years to run at break-even on a regular basis.

You’re doing great from a business standpoint. Now, if you just don’t like the business that’s another story.

OK - I guess that’s what I was looking for. Here’s what we’ve got:

POPULATION - 66,716 civilian


TRAFFIC COUNT IN FRONT OF STORE - Pretty low as far as in the parking lot of our plaza but very high as we’re on the corner of 2 major througways (county highways). I can’t find specific numbers, but banner advertising on the fence at the intersection works well

ADVERTISING MEDIUMS - Not sure what the question is here, but newspaper, doorhangers, the standard stuff.

ADVERTISING SO FAR - About 7,000 doorhangers, 2 radio promos each blitz 50-60 ads in 3 day blocks, 1 radio contest sponsorship with 120 ads banners advertising specials on major intersection fencing and on our building.

so…what do we do now?

What do you do now? How big are those telemarketing call centers? See if you can’t be one of their daily vendors that sets up shop in the breakroom with slices and such.

Pizza City,

Okay, good stuff. We’ve actually got a little in common because I’ve got a military base with about 24,000 army guys running around. You are in a situation I’d like to call, “can’t miss”. Here’s your problem in a nutshell, ready?

Over half of the people there have either never heard of you or don’t really care one way or the other that you’re even there. Don’t get down on this fact because it’s a very easy situation to turn in your favor.

The biggest asset you’ve got going for you is that you’re the new pizza place in town… CAPITALIZE ON THAT! Every piece of print you’ve got make sure you’ve got something to the effect of “Now Open!!!” written on it.

Now, before we get started, let’s first take a look at some of the things you’ve done:

  1. 7,000 doorhangers - Awesome! Doorhanging should net you somewhere between a 5-8% return. The only bad thing about doorhanging is that it should never end. This excercise (and I do mean excercise) should be done in your store to the tune of around 1,000 D.H. per week… EVERY week.

  2. 2 radio promo’s w/ 50-60 ads in 3 day blocks - Good… but a waste of money. While it IS good to be on the radio (I am), you don’t want to sink all of your money into that medium. Radio is what you call “Passive” advertising where you just want to get your name out there and create a little brand recognition. That’s not the type of advertising you need right now. Right now you need “Direct” advertising, where it’s a numbers game. By saying numbers game, I mean you get an immediate return on whatever type of advertising you put out there… we’ll talk about that in a minute.

  3. 2 chamber of commerce paper ads - Good… but another waste of money. Whenever I get those chamber ads I throw them away. While yes it is good to capture some of the businesses in town for lunch sales, you’ve got much bigger problems that you’ve got to attack. So, let’s hold off on the chamber ads for a moment.

  4. 3 ads in the military newspaper - Good idea… BUT there might be a way to increase your return, as I’m sure this one probably isn’t giving you everything you’d hoped it would.

  5. Parking lot car flyering - Great idea. No buts. Is this your parking lot? If it is, make sure you get those people in your doors while they’re already in the neighborhood by giving them an offer they can’t refuse… more on that in a sec.

  6. Business exchange with Gold’s Gym - That’s not really doing anything but hopefully giving you a free membership.

  7. Business exchange with the mall - Passive advertising, but don’t stop, especially if it’s free.

  8. Business exchange with car repair - Same answer as 7

  9. Direct flyering to businesses - How many times are you doing this? This is a good idea. Make sure you do it on a consistent basis with specials that are around a $5.00 price point.

  10. Direct flyering to barracks - This we will talk about in depth, because this is your Golden Goose.

  11. Radio remote - Good job on the Grand Opening.

It looks like you’ve been pretty busy trying a whole bunch of things. Kinda like throwing a whole bunch of crap up against the wall to see what sticks if you will. Let’s condense down to just a couple things to concentrate on and get you on your way…

  1. Flyering in the barracks - Like I said, this is your Golden Goose. Everytime you flyer you should immediately see an average of a 10% return THAT DAY. Do NOT go the safe route and put them at the front desk or in the common area. That route will get you averaging $4,000/week (which, if I’m not mistaken, is what you’re doing now). Put your print materials UNDER THE DOORS of each and every room. Of course, you’ll have people tell you you’re not supposed to do that and that it’s against rules and regulations, blah blah blah. It’s always better to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission. This is what you call “guerilla advertising” and if you want your store to take off, do it! Do this religiously on a weekly basis and watch your delivery sales take off like a rocket.

  2. Military paper - Call the paper and ask to speak to the person in charge of advertising. Ask how much it would cost to do a “wrap”. A wrap is defined as a piece of your advertising wrapped arount the front page of every paper. By doing this, the first thing everyone sees is YOUR AD. This way you will make sure your stuff doesn’t get lost in the 30-80something pages of black and white. Depending on circulation, a wrap shouldn’t cost much more than what you’re paying now and will give you 3-5 times the return you’re getting now. My philosophy when it comes to that kind of stuff is that if you’re going to do something, MAKE SURE PEOPLE SEE IT! I’ve never been a fan of “bulk advertising” specifically because it gets lost. However, you increase the odds to your favor by putting your ad on the front because there’s no way in Hell it’ll get lost then.

  3. Parking lot flyers - A VERY effective way to increase carryout sales. However, price point has got to be key because you’re trying to create new customers who would normally just pass you by without even thinking about it. Suggestion: 1 Large 1 Topping $5.99… or $4.99… or even $3.99. Yes, $3.99 is God-awful low, but do you think you’d be able to keep up with the business if you put flyers out with that price-point on them?

  4. Pricing - Now, this might or might not be a problem. One thing you’ve got to realize is that you’re in a military town and that is your target. Military boys will order the entire kitchen sink from you but the only thing that’s going to make them call is a price-point that will get them interested, so create coupon specials that leave room for upselling. Here are some examples of coupons I use in my store:

Extra Large 1 topping pizza - $10.99

Large Pizza with up to 5 toppings - $10.99

2 medium 2 topping pizzas - $12.99

2 Large 2 topping pizzas - $16.99

Large 1 topping pizza - $8.99

Notice how these specials only advertise pizza? When they call to order, that’s when I hit them with drinks, and wings, and cheesestix, and breadstix, etc. My most popular coupons from this bunch are the Extra Large for $10.99 and the 2 mediums for $12.99, but my average ticket is over $16.00 each and every week. Why? Because I upsell the other stuff.

I’ve got a copy of a flyer I can send you. Give me your e-mail addy and I’ll shoot it over to you. This flyer is distributed to the barracks and these guys go crazy over it.

In conclusion… If you concentrate on just the four basic things (Barracks, wrap, doorhanging, and windshielding) you’ll see a vast improvement in sales at your store. These three excercises will get your sales up, but should NOT be the only form of advertising in your store. Stick to the other things we’ve discussed but focus on these four primarily for the next 6-8 weeks. What this will do is create your “core” of customers. Once you’ve got your “core” established you can start to focus on infiltrating the rest of your market… including “School Nights” - which is another discussion. Hope this helps. -J_r0kk

OK - good stuff. On the Chamber of Commerce stuff, I’m an ambassador and get points for activities so I earn free advertising - anything free is good! I don’t have any problem following up on any EXCEPT for one major thing…your golden goose.

My husband and the primary “face” of our pizzaria is still active duty military. Our key angle is relationship building by taking the high ground and not “breaking the rules like those other guys”. We work with the higher ranks - ensuring Gunnys and above get dinner free when their troops order. Now, this hasn’t worked for us yet, but we stay at it.

Our solution to that is to make sure the girls (yeah, myself included) do the flyering on base and since they wear tank tops instead of t-shirts, they are noticed. We also try to put female photos on our ad slicks we put on base.

This has me a bit concerned - because your product and quality should come before anything else. With your ovens working like this, it sounds like your product is suffering.

You must get your product to 100% before you begin any sort of effort to increase business. Otherwise, you are wasting your time and your money - and you will lose these new customers for a very long time.

Funny, I read this post after thinking this morning how I was offered to be bought out of my store about 8 months ago. I would have taken a $7000 loss. I turned it down. Wish like hell I would have taken it because here I am 8 months later. 55 hours a week, no life and no money. But the bills at the store get paid! Big Whoop! I am working my butt off for everyone else! I wish I could get that same offer now! Get out while you can!

OK - good stuff. On the Chamber of Commerce stuff, I’m an ambassador and get points for activities so I earn free advertising - anything free is good! I don’t have any problem following up on any EXCEPT for one major thing…your golden goose.

My husband and the primary “face” of our pizzaria is still active duty military. Our key angle is relationship building by taking the high ground and not “breaking the rules like those other guys”. We work with the higher ranks - ensuring Gunnys and above get dinner free when their troops order. Now, this hasn’t worked for us yet, but we stay at it.

Okay. No problem. Just trying to help. Good luck. -J_r0kk

Get involved in your community, focus on your neighborhood. Get a map and draw concentric 1 mile circles around a centerpoint being your store. focus on everything within the first mile until you break $10K.
Develop School Fundraiser with your local Elementary PTO or PTA. If your near a military base, get in touch with the Moral, Welfare, and Recreation Office (MWR) they usually have allot of functions for families, and singles too. A simple donation of free pizza can go a long ways.

But most important is your product. If your ovens aren’t producing quality pies. Don’t spend any money on advertising, until you fix those ovens.

Lastly, find ways to lower your overhead.
When I look at opening a store I try to develop a store that has less than $400 a week overhead. Usually $400 to $600 a month rent. I have several stores that do only $4,000 a week, but they profit a $1000 a week. Cause there overhead is low.

somebody please tell me its easier to open a pizzeria in a small town.

if you want some extra business you could try drug reps. my landlord owns a pizzeria in a different town and has hooked up with drug reps and does a ton of sales before he even opens the doors in the morning. i had already planned on targeting drug reps b/c i am a pharmacist and i know that these reps are constantly buying lunches and dinners to bring to doctor’s offices to plug their companies medicines. how do you find these reps? one simple way is to go to any pharmacy or even your doctor’s office and ask them for phone numbers to as many reps as they have. call the reps and offer them a deal that you’d be willing to give them. i’ve been in pharmacy for 15 years and i’ve never, never, never been to a presentation by a drug rep that did not feed us. they will even over order most of the time to make sure they cover everyone they are presenting to. they do it in advance so its not like they know who wants what and they have to have a variety especially with subs. the great thing is that there are plenty of drug reps and from each drug company and there are tons of doctors offices that the reps have to drive to so they will rather make one stop to pick up food to save time. its definately worth checking into. the other day my landlord’s pizzeria was in the middle of making 70 pies for 1 drug rep before they even opened. you might not even need to give them any special price, just let them know you are there and willing to help them out. and don’t worry about calling them directly to solicite business from them- that’s what they do all day every day.

That’s great info - thanks!

I’m definetly going to try that one !