September 19, 2012 |

Is Pizza Recession Proof?

By Dave Ostrander

To a certain point we are masters of our own destiny. To a certain point. The current economy is in uncharted waters. I hope our elected government officials are up to the task of putting the economic train wreck back on the tracks.

I’ve seen and lived through some similar economic times. I remember when, with absolutely no notice, Richard Nixon imposed an executive order that froze all wages and prices for most of a year. This order made it a crime to raise your prices on anything as well as give an employee a wage hike. The economy needed some time to get itself back on track. A few years later the economy again went into a funk. During Jimmy Carter’s administration we watched interest rates climb to close to 20 percent. Not a good time to be in the real estate or banking business. A few months after the first Desert Storm, the Department of Defense decreed the closing for many air bases. Wurtsmith AFB closed in my town. I lost half of my customer base in less than a year. Bumper stickers were going around town that said, “Last one leaving Oscoda – Turn off the lights” . Nine thousand people were reassigned in less than a year. All I saw were 50 moving vans a day heading out of town. A couple of years later, I was setting all-time sales records in a town that shrunk by half. We got through the mess and so will you.

Through it all, the restaurant and pizza industry survived and grew to thrive. We will again. In the last 30 years food not prepared at home for immediate consumption has almost doubled. America and the world would really rather let someone else cook for them. That would be you and me.

The current economic crunch time we’re in now will pass. Unfortunately, underperforming operations will be driven out of business. Hanging on is not a recommended business strategy. Eventually, your grip will loosen on your lifeline and you may find yourself in a financial freefall.

In the past few months I’ve visited many successful operations. They called me in to see if there was anything they were overlooking that could help bolster their sagging bottom lines. Each one of them has adjusted a certain area that will send lots of newfound money to the bottom line. If our customers are tightening their restaurant spending habits we need to look inside our operations a trim any wasteful spending.

The pizza industry is what we make it. Making the very best pie possible and serving it with a smile is a must. I’m convinced that the industry needs to raise the bar and do a more professional job on portioning, pricing, purchasing and marketing.