Thrive in the Pizza Biz

The pizza business is currently drifting in unchartered waters. The old model of making, baking and serving a praiseworthy pizza with a smile just isn’t enough to pay the bills anymore. What are we to do to prosper in the future? I’ve heard this question a thousand times at International Pizza Expo and other events this year. Here is my take on how to deal with the “new” normal way of thriving in the pizza business.

I’m going to make a big assumption here. Your pizza, salads, sandwiches and other menu offerings are absolutely the best. If you have any doubts on your products, you’d better be working on raising the bar. I’ll make another big assumption –– your entire staff is on their game. They have emotionally bought in to your way of doing business, have the service mentality DNA gene and have been trained to over deliver service.

Praiseworthy pizza as well as memorable service is the new watermark for being recession proof.

The overwhelming majority of operators I visit and work closely with are at the top of their game in product and service. The big roadblock that keeps them in the “just getting by” lifestyle is, in my humble opinion, accountability.

Who do you answer to when your profitability tanks? Do you know where to look for and how to follow the money trail? Or do you play the blame game? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked the question, “What are you doing different to change your status quo?” Well….what are you doing different? Have you developed an iron grip on portion control? Are you getting timely accurate financials from a real accountant that really understands your business? Do you understand accounting? Does this person ever challenge your financial decisions and percentages? I predict that in the future only the business savvy entrepreneurs will thrive.

Nobody ever told me that I would need a depth of knowledge that would rival a lawyer and accountant when I opened the first Big Dave’s Pizza in 1972. Back then in the dark ages, all you needed was praiseworthy pies and service with a smile. You also had to enroll in the School of Hard Knocks. My personal tuition bill ran into the six figures with all the bad decisions I made. I know I have an MBA and probably a PhD if I ever quantified the money I lost, left on the table and just plain stolen from me in my career. Then again, there was no one to ask and nowhere to go for answers. Now, there is.

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