Your most used marketing/business resource

I’m putting together a list of the best books, audio, web, speaker resources out there for pizza store operators both current and those just getting into the business. I would like to quote some of you for this short article to appear online.

Which guides or resources have been the most valuable to you and why?

I learned in college how to operate a mom n pop pizza place and put my own twist on things. This site helps make your wheels spin on new ideas and with troubleshooting. Tom Lehmann and George Mills are two huge resources for all of us on here and any newbies that come around asking questions as well as several long-time members/operators.

We (my staff and I, we’re a team!) opened nearly a year ago in San Francisco; a long-time dream come true. After the first few weeks of being open, we learned what worked and what didn’t at least for the time being. Staff was trained and eager for more business. I decided to put us on Eat24 and Grubhub online ordering sites. Instead of paying an employee min wage $12.25/hr to walk around the neighborhood and slip menus under doors (and trust that said employee would hand out menus the entire time he/she was on the clock), I chose to put our restaurant on these two big online ordering sites, where you pay a percentage of your sales to them for doing so and kept the employees in the kitchen to help with the volume we received from these sites. The goal is to get our place up to the point where we don’t need to be on these sites and steer people from their sites to our website with a flyer on each box letting customers know they can get a discount by ordering on our website’s online ordering where I only pay a flat monthly fee and in turn make more money overall.

We’ve been consistently growing each month since we opened. This Saturday, we had high volume due to Halloween and all the kids/parents in our neighborhood so I forcibly had to turn off Eat24/Grubhub on Saturday night. Still had a record sales day for a Saturday. Yesterday, we were busy for NFL as always and it usually dies off for a bit after the 2nd set of games get past halftime so we have a small window to prep up any items we may have used extra of during the day. That window never came. I turned off Eat24/Grubhub for an hour so we could catch up and we still remained crazy busy non-stop. We had increased traffic on our website’s online ordering, more than double the norm in fact so I kept Eat24/Grubhub turned off the entire night!

After a long first year of ups, downs, twists, turns, new successful menu items, failed attempts, sleepless nights, endlessly stressful phone calls/reviews/compliments/complaints, and the like…we’re getting to the point where we can stand on our own two feet successfully without being on Eat24/Grubhub! While it’s great to not have to rely on those sites any longer, I attribute our success to the business/exposure they gave us and will always be grateful they were here to help me start up my start up/dream.

By being on those two sites, I was marketing without lifting a finger(cheaper overall than a direct mailer too btw) and just kept everyone in house to handle the business we received from them. Since being on those sites, we broke even the first full month (2nd month of being open)we were on those sites and never looked back. It’s a God send to not have to worry about losing money, we would break even at worse. My wife and I still have our day jobs to make ends meet and I work here each night after my day job and all day on Sat/Sun for the past year while she cares for our 6 month old.

Hard work is starting to pay off and we’re both very tired of course, but very happy to see how far we’ve come. We’re happy with where we’re at, but not content. We have a management staff in place to help us now so I can be off a few weeknights to spend time with my family and keep growing as well. Life is good! We got this!

We don’t do any advertising, our only reach out to customers is social media, we’ve been lucky enough to get great reviews on tripadvisor (top 5), and nobody else in the area does what we do (BBQ, Pizza and Wings in a fast casual environment, self-serv too)
I want to do mailshark, but the initial cost scares the heck out of me

My only advertising (if you can call it that) is donating to charity fund raising silent auctions. I place a T-shirt, a gift certificate for two 14" pizzas, a magnetic memo board, a fridge magnet and a pen in a pizza box. Total value = $60, total cost = $15. The advantage of this type of promotion is two fold. I get recognition for contributing to the community and I often get people who have never tried my pizza.

I have listened to many speakers over the years attending Pizza Expo. Some of the most memorable ones are Scott Anthony, Wayne Remple, Dave Ostrander and Tom Lehmann. Scott,Wayne and Dave have all been in the trenches and relate their experience in the industry while Tom is an endless supply of information and experience.

Same here but $199/week to send out 500 mailers/week is steep for a new or newer operation. And that’s just to send menus out, no guarantee of sales. With Eat24/Grubhub online ordering, you only pay them a percentage of sales they send you. No other fees, so I’m at least guaranteed sales out of it before owing anything. Someday I’ll try Mailshark to hit different avenues of marketing, but just can’t do it right now. Hope all is well in Wisco my man!

@Joe, I never thought about using those sites like Grubhub as a real advertising tool. Indeed you normally hear more about the headaches from bad reviews much more.

What about The Black Book or the Pizza Bible. Anyone ever try any of those?

I have both and they are good references but everything in them can be found in the archives of the Think Tank. I also have the Wizard of Ads series of books on marketing by Roy H. Williams which give some great ideas.

I looked at GrubHub and other smartphone sales apps, but I am in a unique tourist area where we are already huge with the tourist crowd, but lacking on the local year-round residents. Most of these year=round residents do not have smartphones, and a large percentage do not have internet access. It’s a real screwed up situation. I’d love to be in a real city!

We do a lot of eddm it works very well for us. Gubhub and eat24 do not service our area but there is a new online site doordash that is new and popular in our area will be trying this out soon in the future. When we first got started we did do yelp advertising to get us up in the ranks for pizza shops now we are in the top 3 for any pizza related search in our area so we no longer do it. We are in a very high tourist traffic area so that helped us out a lot and continues to help us out a lot when out of towners are looking for something to eat. I am also going to try magnets soon as well. Want to do bumper stickers and tshirts to sell as I do get request for these. We also do a lot of branding almost everything that goes out our door has some form of our logo on it.

Message On Hold has been the single most important resource for us in the 15 years we have been here. Every customer knows what my specials are each time. Any new item can be advertised from day one. It has increased my sales of specialty pizzas, desserts, appetizers, etc. I would be lost without it. Also Mike and Marty are a wealth of information and a joy to deal with.

Seemingly, I get a donation request every single day of the year. So rather then spending money on advertising, I just donate pizza to every single organization that reaches out to me.

The gift cards I donate are valid for dine-in only. That way, the customer is seeing our restaurant, trying our food at its best (fresh out of the oven), and are likely buying drinks or other menu items. This gives us good will within the community and brings in many new customers.

There are numerous Message On Hold websites. Which is the correct one? Does this service answer the phone before the phone rings on your end?
EDIT: Nevermind, found it:

While I’m not a Pizza Shop owner I help many of them increasing their sales.

One tactic we use on the websites we manage for them is the up sales.
We always add something to almost any item on the website.
If their customer clicks on let’s say a Fetuccini Alfredo pasta plate. We make sure to have an option allowing them to add some kind of meat to it, or a salad, an appetizer, or some sort of dessert. The majority of the time the customer will add something on to it.

Another tip is on the Checkout form we also add a section where we place certain items from the menu to give them another option to easily add to the order.

This results in sales of over $50 the majority of the time.

Makes me look good for my clients and they’re happy getting the extra money rolling in.

Hope it helps someone else!