When is a specialty pizza no longer one?

I am just curious about how others handle changes to specialty pizzas. Our specialty pizzas are priced at a discount over a regular cheese pizza with the same number of toppings.

So we typically get a lot of can I also add this or that? Usually I am OK with adding another topping or two (and of course charging them the extra topping cost). But sometimes we get people in who want to remove this and that and add other things, making it an entirely different pizza.

Of course you always get the people who want no onions, no mushrooms and no olives and instead want chicken, bacon and extra cheese, driving the cost of the pizza way up.

How do you handle this?

I have seen this discussion before. If memory serves me correctly there are three schools of thought.

First: You could be like one of the big 3 and say you have to have it our way. Not such a great option.

Second: You could add to the price for additional toppings and reduce the cost for the deleted toppings. This would be the way to go if you just use standard pricing for all your pizzas and just make Specialty Pizzas as an idea for lazy customers.

Third: You could add the cost of the additional toppings but because the pizza is packaged at a special price you do not reduce the price for topping left off.

I use the third method. I have 26 pizzas on my menu, all are at a lower price than a build your own cost. If customers want something that is not on the menu I will try to find a Menu Pizza that is close to what they want and add or delete one or two toppings. The customers often comment on how accommodating we are even when there is an extra charge involved.

As a customer I agree with Daddio’s way of thinking. Set a fair price for the specialty… add if they want to add a topping but if they delete… do not adjust the price but maybe go slightly heavy on the other toppings. That way you are covered if questioned either way. “Hey, I took the sausage off…why isn’t the price reduced…well as a specialty we allow adjustments but compensate by adding extra of the other toppings” If they still want a discount… just price out a cheese pie with the toppings and I hope the cost comes out higher! :!:

In order to keep it a specialty, we used to define the special by putting it in the small print “no substitutions” or additional topping at regular price up to so many.

For years our specialties were priced a bit below the build-it yourself price and we deducted for removing items and added for additional toppings. What we encountered was that some customers figured out they could save money over buying a cheese or one topping pizza by ordering a combo and removing most or all of the toppings.

What I ended up doing represented a change of thinking about the purpose of the combos: we now price combos as they would price out on the menu.

Rather than thinking about or presenting combos as a savings I see them as recommending a satisfying pizza with flavors, textures and colors that produces a great experience. Our combos generally represent and upsell to the pizzas customers put together for themselves. Most customers will order a pizza with 1,2 or 3 toppings. Our combos start at 4 toppings and some, counting double and triple price toppings price out as high as 9 toppings. i.e. a specialty pie is not about offering a great or special “deal” it is about offering a great pizza.

A side benefit is that I no longer care what changes a customer wants to make to a menu combo…

I’m with Daddio on the third option.
We have 34 pizzas on our menu and charge for extra toppings and do not deduct for toppings taken off or allow swapping of toppings.
We do have a “make your own” where the price is set at the base level of our “favourites” (base range) for up to three regular toppings - gourmet toppings are charged extra accordingly.
Some don’t like it while the vast majority just order regardless.

My Specialty Pizzas are priced the same for all of them. The price is higher than a 4 topping but lower than a 5 topping custom pizza. We top our specialty pizzas so they would equal 4 FULL portions thus if it is a 9 topping specialty it has the same coverage as the 4 topping.

We dont get many requests that would dramatically alter the original specialty pie so it was unrecognizeable any more. Setting too many rules and telling people “NO” in print is never something I will do. Like Daddio said we get comlimented often for the ease of customization. In fact in today’s society with so many “diets” it is almost criminal not to be a little more accomodating.

The solution here is the same for all. Look at the range of the people here on this topic. Canada, Aussieland, and the mountains of Colorado. I am still of the mindset that if you want too add… then great… charge for it. If you deduct… adjust the coverage but do not let the customers play you like Steve talked about. Oh…the solution is know your customers! I agree 100% that you need to listen and accomidate everyone. I HATE it when I ask for something that is so simple…but since there is no button on the POS then they cannot do it. Like going out with my 5 year old that loves black olives. My wife and I both dislike them so I asked…hey… I am not concerned if you charge me for half a pizza of olives…ie: the botton… but just put them on 1/4 the pie. Then you get the deer in the headlights look! Huh? :roll: I know that’s a little off topic but it is all about customer service. Price your product to be profitable and if so many people change your “specialty” pies everyday… maybe it is time to make the change for them and rethink that option.

Just a side note…how Steve prices his pies the same as if they just ordered them like that… so no special discount… my local bagel shop sells 1 dz for $8.99 and cream cheese for $2.99. Then they sell the Bagel Bundle of 1dz and 2 cheese… for $14.99. Do the math! That’s just literally my 2 cents! :wink:

Reminds of one time years ago selling raffle tickets for Rotary at a festival day. We were calling out 20c a ticket when one guy made a blooper and called out 20c or 4 for $1 (instead of 6 for $1). People started coming over and handing over a dollar for 4 tickets. Everyone thought they were getting a bargain.

I agree with the majority that this sounds like the best way to go. I also agree about not saying no, if it can be avoided.

Here is an example of where I would draw the line…

Say you offer a large Vegetarian pizza with extra cheese, mushrooms, onions, olives and bell peppers for $16.99

And you also offer a large 4 meat pizza with pepperoni, smoked ham, sausage and meatballs for $18.99

And extra toppings for a large are $1.50 each.

Now someone comes in and says I want a large vegetarian, but substitute the mushrooms, onions, olives and bell peppers WITH pepperoni, smoked ham, sausage and meatballs.

So now they are really getting a 4 meat pizza, with extra cheese for $16.99, when it should be priced at $20.49

In our shop it we would tell them that it was the speciality price pizza plus the extra toppings at $xzy or it becomes a “make your own” priced at all the toppings they want. It’s not saying NO but being realistic. People will work it out their own way to try and get the best price. e.g we have the Hawaiian which is ham and pineapple for $16 for a large. They order ham, pineapple and capsicum which is $16 as a “make your own” or $17.50 as a speciality pizza plus capsicum. Sometimes you just let ones like this ride and just go a bit lighter on the toppings :slight_smile:

This is the path we’ve taken and actually market our signature pizzas as simply “starting points” for creating your own favorite combination. Giving employees the ability to respond with “no problem” to customer requests is a rare and powerful weapon* in this day and age.

[size=2]*=Use responsibly or your business may explode![/size]

I have quickly come to agree to the concept that specialty pies are suggestions and starting points per say rather than discounted offerings. Why should it be a discount just to say “hey, this combo tastes great together!” As I have said so many times and not wanting to sound like some broken records around here… but make a great pizza and not just an ok one and then charge a fair but high enough price to make a real profit. All food everywhere is expensive these days and cheap pizza is just fast food level crap. It cannot be great since it HAS to use the most cost effective ingredients. I am sure there are indies out there that make an ok low cost pizza but probably not going to win any awards for high quality. It is all a balance of quality food and service…and a great marketing plan to sell your idea of a high level of every piece of your business pie so your customer base will not question your prices… but instead walk out and say “Damn great meal!”

On that note… just a side question for everyone to ask themselves. We all have the few really GREAT places that we know we can go to and yes it will not be inexpensive but we know 100% of the time… great food and service. Then we also have those places that it is a coin toss as to whether or not we get an ok meal or crap! My questions is… when paying for both those meals… do you really questions the $42 beef tenderloin with bacon wrapped assparagus, smashed garlic pots, and a salad that all was past great… or is it the $30 tenderloin from the other place that did not cut away all of the silvery tendons on the meat and over cooked the veggies into mush or the wilted warm lettuce salad… I REALLY HATE HOT SALADS!!! I know money is always a factor… but the same I think goes to pizza. If you really are consistant with great…then people will come back and send others your way and know it will cost more but also know they are getting a great meal!!! :idea: