2009 November: A Pizza My Mind

car topper, deliveryJust over half of my gross sales came from home and business deliveries. Over the years, we stumbled on a few ideas that made us stand out from the competition. We were the fi rst company in our area to use car-top signs. It was so long ago I had to make my own from scratch. I permanently mounted it to an old Chevy Vega. The “piglet” only had a driver’s seat. The rest was plywood and heated cabinets. Car top signs work. They are great advertisers and also give the customer something to look for when the car cruises the street looking for the house number.

We noticed that, at least half the time, our customers’ dogs beat their owners to the door when we came knocking. My drivers always had dog biscuits in their jacket pockets. This scored big points with the dog as well as the owner. We also offered small “kiddie doughs” to little people. This was no more than a small piece of pizza dough in a sandwich bag. Kids love to play with Play Dough. We gave them the real deal. We told them not to eat it and to store it in the refrigerator. Anytime they came in the restaurant to dine, they asked for more.

Every delivery driver is dependent on a lit house number. Every time we delivered to a home where the porch light was burned out, we asked permission to replace it. I made a case of 100 watt bulbs available for my drivers to have in their back seats.

The best idea I ever had to make the drivers shine was “hotel packs”. When I was interviewing motel owners in my town to get permission to place table tents and menus in all of their rooms, I was reminded that eating pizza in a hotel room can be messy. I invented a solution. Place two 9-inch plates, two forks and a few napkins in a gallon Ziploc bag. Every time we delivered to a nondomicile (office, business, motel) my drivers offered the packs to the customers. They had a little spiel that went like this. “I made up a bag with plates for you. Could you use this?” Bam … instant tip. Since we rarely, if ever, got coupons from our motel and business customers, the cost was very affordable. My drivers also asked the travelers if they needed driving directions to anyplace in town. Who knows more than a trained driver on the streets in your town? FedEx came to us when they were lost!

These little acts of kindness came back and separated us from everyone else. Give them a try. ?

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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