Michael P. LaMarca
Master Pizza // Chagrin Falls, Ohio
No. 78 on Pizza Today’s Hot 100 Independent Pizzerias list, the three-unit Master Pizza is experiencing exponential growth and owner Michael P. LaMarca is ushering in the new tech-savvy era.
We have an old-fashioned pizza parlor concept – pick up, delivery and dine in for about 35 to 40 guests. We believe serving our customers the highest quality product with good old-fashioned customer service has made us a favorite in the Cleveland market since 1955.
The key to our growth has been a relentless effort to keep our company relevant. Constant advertising and a major web push keeps us always in the conversation when people talk about pizza in the Cleveland market. We feel that the minute we step back and ease up someone else will jump ahead of us. We have built an amazing and vocal online presence on Facebook, Twitter and our own e-mail database that has been built organically.
We plan on growing our company through web dominance. We plan on really focusing most of our resources online. We feel that people using their Facebook, Twitter and cell phones is not a thing of the future, it is happening now. We have been aggressive online for years and now are seeing results. Our online ordering has become a major part of our business. Our average ticket online has grown to over $25 per order. There is a huge opportunity online and we hope to take every advantage of it. Best part about it is that most of it is free. The key to social media and online success is balancing being relevant and not over posting where people just pass over your comments. You must engage with people.
I have been competing for many years now in various events throughout the country and Italy. What makes my pizzas stand out among the best of the best has been I have been able to take critique from the judges and other competitors as a way to better my pizza as compared to taking it personal.
I have three tests my competition pizza must pass before I would use them in any competition:
First, can I use the pizza in my shop? What is the point of winning a pizza bake off if your customers cannot purchase it?
Second, it must have a catchy name. If you are going to sell it, you need to be able to market it.
Finally, it must be easy enough to make so I can teach our team how to make it for our customers and also so that we can make it 150 times on a Friday night.
Competing has been a major focus of mine because it gives me the opportunity to talk to and get ideas from many of the best pizza makers in the country and in the world.
I use the results to market my company in a few different ways. First, I use the results to say that I have placed X place out of 75 pizza makers from across the country in the Best Pizza in the North East, for example. I immediately post it on our Web site as well as Twitter and Facebook. I would also make a press release and send it to all the local newspapers as well as local TV and radio personalities. I usually get a lot of press as a result of doing well.