I hear a lot from Pizzeria owners, “Making stuff from scratch would be great and all, but I can’t trust my staff to do anything like that. I make it all myself to avoid inconsistencies.” This is a foolish way to look at this industry. You have to invest time into recipes, and then you have to invest time into people. A lot of people love the first part, but can’t wrap their head around the second part. So let’s break it down.
Once you land on recipes that work for you, here are the steps to make it real.
- Get with your food supplier on getting these real, non pre-packaged, true ingredients into your stores. Items like curd, buttermilk, ground beef, real garlic cloves, etc.
- Once the bulk prep recipe items like meatballs (or entrée recipe items like Alfredo sauce) are set, have a staff meeting with your people where you make it yourself in front of them and then watch them make it the right way in front of you. Right then and there, tend to any concerns or hiccups that occur. If they can’t make it correctly in front of you, they won’t do it without you there. Have patience and reinforce the people that do it well. People seeking positive praise is more powerful than staff members looking to avoid negative criticism.
- Take the food items your staff makes and have servers or whoever will be in front of customers taste the items. Be sure to explain with passion why it’s better than the alternative so staff can get as excited as you about it. To expect your staff to be more into your menu than you is naïve; make sure your passion shows through if you ever hope your staff to mimic your enthusiasm.
- Price it accordingly and tell your story on every social media and advertising platform you have — let people know what an exceptional product you have. Especially if it is a new item, this can be a call to action to reinvigorate lazy customers who have left your brand.
Making these or any items from scratch can do a few things:
- Lower your food cost
- Make your brand stronger and more unique
- Increase customer loyalty
- And increase employee retention.
That last one might surprise you but yes, since I made the edict to make as much from scratch as our facility would allow, I found my staff turnover rate reducing. I get more staff members from other chain locations who thought they would be “working in a real kitchen” who found a lot of restaurants do a lot of frozen food without heart. Making real food gives people a sense of self worth, and as much as the dollar number on their check is always going to be a priority, never underestimate people’s need to have a workplace they respect to be just as much of a priority.
Have fun with your menu. If what you have now is just what you picked out from a product catalog and doesn’t excite you, today is as good a day as any to change that.
Mike Bausch owns and operates Andolini’s Pizzeria in the Tulsa, Oklahoma, area. He is a frequent speaker and presenter at International Pizza Expo.