2010 March: Commentary

If I could only give two words of advice to pizzeria operators (or, better yet, those about to enter the business as a first-time owner), it would be this: be extraordinary.

I know … easier said than done. If we could all be Michael Jordan or Dan Marino, we would be, right? But that’s a bad example. Why? Because we all weren’t born with the ability to jump through the roof or throw a football 70 yards with a lightning-quick release. We can, however, make a commitment to go above and beyond in our businesses.

For me, in a pizzeria, it starts with the food. But that’s just the beginning. Once you’ve reached exalted status with your offerings, don’t stop until you’ve nailed down service, marketing, your restaurant’s aesthetics, etc.

Thanks to a multitude of mediocre establishments in the foodservice landscape, being extraordinary may not be as difficult as you think. I had a long conversation recently with Donald Cooper, who will lead a seminar at this month’s Pizza Expo titled “Be Extraordinary … or Be Eliminated.”

His premise is that in the 1980s making money in the pizza business was easy. Profit margins were high, competition wasn’t as fierce as it is today and even mediocre operations could succeed and make good money. Flash forward to today. While the cost of doing business has risen dramatically, many pizzerias are still tied to the $10 threshold. Unfortunately, that doesn’t leave much room for error.

But being extraordinary is still possible if you buy the “best of the best” in terms of ingredients and treat your customers like gold. Go the extra mile to ensure they are fully satisfied with each and every visit. Get to know their names and preferences. Send them ‘Thank You’ notes. You get the point. Get started now. Mediocrity is no longer an option!

Best,

Jeremy White, editor-in-chief

jwhite@pizzatoday.com