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On a typical consulting assignment, I rise and shine early in the morning. I hook up with my client and we usually travel to their location. I can get a lot of work done before the phones start ringing and the lunch shift arrives. Imagine my awe when I arrived at a store at 8:30 a.m. and eight cooks are cranking out food for delivery. They have a large order for a business that needs 40 giant pizzas by 11:30 a.m. Another order is for 100 box lunches. The dining room tables have been re-arranged in an assembly line as the orders are constructed. I have never seen anything so impressive.
Just before the official opening time of 11 o’clock, the owner does a sales reading on the POS system. Almost $4,000 in sales. I was impressed and curious.
I asked my client to explain to me how the phenomenon happens. Off-premises lunch catering sales like this are very rare, but he told me today wasn’t that extraordinary for his business. His restaurant performs like this two or three days a week. After they opened and the tables were put back into their places, they jammed hard for two more hours.
He explained the secrets to his success in the next few minutes. When he first opened, his lunch sales barely held their own. Sales were dismal and often were less than labor expenses. At this point they decided to go for broke. The owner’s wife decided to take off her apron and get out into the community. She started knocking on doors and inviting dozens and dozens of office people to join her for lunch. She also pulled out her four most powerful weapons:
1. Fast, on time delivery. You can never ever be late.
2. Great value for the price.
3. Free samples of her most popular entrees.
4. A line of communication directly to her.
Calling a few businesses a week and providing the office staff with a sampling of your good stuff will reap you huge rewards and goodwill. The rub is this: you have get out of your restaurant and troll your neighborhood to get the sales. They won’t just show up. For much less than any other form of marketing, this tactic will offer a huge return on investment. ❖
Big Dave Ostrander owned a highly successful independent pizzeria before becoming a consultant, speaker and internationally sought-after trainer. He is a monthly contributor to Pizza Today and leads seminars on operational topics for the family of Pizza Expo tradeshows.
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