2011 December: WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY

Hundreds and even thousands of people pass by your pizzeria on a daily basis. What message are your windows sending?

How to approach window signage and advertising varies from pizzeria to pizzeria. Westshore Pizza in Tampa, Florida, has large, wide front windows facing a busy thoroughfare. Operations Manager Tyrell Reed says, “We like to give patrons a positive impression of Westshore Pizza before they even step foot inside our restaurants — clean design, good food, fair pricing.”

Reed says they accomplish that message by providing clean, appealing vinyl graphics in vibrant red and checkerboard white and black.

Westshore’s windows display the pizzeria’s best deals, like an 18-inch one-topping pizza with a pitcher of beer or soda for $11.99, and highlight favorite menu items, like the Philly Cheese Steak. “We constantly change the specials and pricing to stay relevant and competitive,” he adds.

While Westshore Pizza takes a window graphics approach, Sweet Tomatoes in Newton, Massachusetts, applies a minimalistic strategy to its windows. Of its three locations, one restaurant has bare windows. Owner Hedy Jarras says that decision was intentional. It is in a historic building with a small paned window. “Nothing goes on that window,” she says, explaining that window graphics wouldn’t fit the establishment. Instead the pizzeria relies on its quaint building signage to draw customers in.

The two other Sweet Tomatoes locations have a single piece of vinyl signage — the pizzeria’s logo and “Neapolitan Pizza” written underneath. “I’m just very into the clean look where people can look in and out,” Jarras says.

The placement of the Sweet Tomatoes logo was strategic for Jarras. “I don’t want them straight in the middle because people can’t necessarily look in,” she says. “So I have them closer to the bottom. We are at a main intersection so you hope that everyone can see it.”

There are only a couple of items that may appear on Sweet Tomatoes’ windows: an occasional “Now Hiring” sign and a banner advertising their Matzo Pizza for Passover. The Matzo Pizza is the perfect example of a promotion Sweet Tomatoes has where “I really need to draw people in immediately,” Jarras says. “That’s a big draw for us.”

Scott Anthony of Fox’s Pizza Den in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, agrees on the less-is-more tactic. “Windows should be considered part of your four walls marketing,” he says. “I feel this space is just as important and useful as any. It is a view into your ‘world.’”

He offers some “Dos and Don’ts” when it comes to windows. “Windows provide a view of a restaurant with satisfied customers eating inside a clean restaurant and happy employees working inside,” Anthony says. He advises not to obstruct views inside.
Covering the windows with posters, banners and signs also may pose security risks. “Someone could have entered your establishment and no one will ever see them moving around,” Anthony says, a lesson he learned first hand.

The information you provide is crucial to passersby. He says must-haves include an open sign, store hours, phone numbers and web address. “We use window-scapes and die cut graphics,” Anthony says. “These are informational, plus give the benefit of allowing a view in and out. They are also reflective so they show up great at night.”

Whether you go for bold dominating statements on your windows or minimal coverage, remember to keep it clean, appealing and in pristine condition.

Vinyl is King
Many operators are drawn to a common window product — vinyl. There is an abundance of options for vinyl graphics to place on your storefront windows. What do you look for when you need new vinyl or need to replace worn out treatments? There are new products hitting the market constantly and it can get a little confusing at times.

Sam Cassel, vice president of Cassel Promotions in Spokane, Washington, shares what drives new window graphics. “When someone comes out with a new product that is a breakthrough product, generally it’s a price breakthrough that they are trying to hit price points that this product performs better than another, but it’s half the price,” he says

“They come out with vinyls that perform a little better, meaning they are easier to install and vinyls that will accept a richer, more vibrant image,” he adds.

When shopping for vinyl, consider that high-end products may run $8 to $9 per square foot, with lesser expensive products running $4.50 to $5 per square foot. Using full-color graphics and even high-resolution photography is common. Also, most graphics companies do not charge for cutting shapes in the vinyl.

Denise Greer is associate editor at Pizza Today.

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