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Top 5 ways to succeed in the pizza industry
Marc Cosentino ◆ Today’s Restaurant Contributor
There are several areas that are key to success and while all these areas are im- portant any one is not the end all and be all to a successful formula. I’m sure you can think that local chain that has the worst pizza in town and yet you see their delivery vehicles everywhere you go.
My own personal mystery was a pizza place in Brooklyn that was run by a guy with no personality that I am sure in- spired the soup Nazi years later with his disrespect and rudeness to his cus- tomers. Aside from the pizza makers smoking while they made pizza, he would tell you to eat the unburnt part of the pie if you dared to complain. How about the places that are so far off the beaten path you need a guide to find them or better yet they have no name on the joint? You can’t make this stuff up but it gives one hope that there is room for all of us to succeed. I want to qualify this as my own personal opinion from working with, knowing and visiting with hundreds of pizza men and women all over the country. By no means is this THE BIBLE OF PIZZA or to be taken as law but it will give you a pretty good idea of what to concern yourself with if your new to the game, stale or in deep trouble.
1. Location, Location, Location - the best way is to be the only game in town or be in a tourist location where there are no other options available or the ones available are of no consequence due to being very expensive or a different and specialized category like a fish house. Some the most successful places special- ized in malls, theme parks, schools, mili- tary bases or small town USA.
2. Make the best pizza known to man or there about. If you are making a really top notch product people will find you and not only that, people will talk. Word of mouth is the best advertising it has been said. The reason for this is that people will trust the opinion of friends and family over silly unfounded claims of
the best pizza in town and such adver- tised in the local paper.
3. Be unique. Examples of this are everywhere but they may not seem ap- parent. Like making a Chicago pie where there never was one, having a wood burning brick oven, using insects as a topping or having a pizza drive through like OL Jose’s in Pineville West Virginia where they are using a revolv- ing brick oven.
4. Beasocialmaniac.Takepridein being part of your community. Before there was social media, there were so- cial men and women. These wonderful people actually cared about the people they met and considered customers as friends to share joys and sorrows with. One very moving example of this is when people would come to Goodfella’s Pizza in Staten Island on their way home from work in the days after 911 just to get out of the house and be with people who cared in a friendly and safe environment. There are many examples I can think of; like the guy who coaches the local little league, the girl who hosts local heroes with pizza parties, the place that supports boy scouts, the place that sponsors Special Olympics or the guys that collect donations for slices to feed the homeless. There are so many ways to build good will in a community and give back while earning respect and loy- alty that I could write a book about it but you get the idea.
5. Service.Runatightshipthatgives service and shows genuine care for the customer’s experience. I don’t know about you but when I am ignored, the host is not pleasant, the server acts like he is doing me a favor, the table is dirty when I am seated or my unfamiliarity with or- dering and the menu is treated with im- patience, you have lost me, and more importantly, any future income my pa- tronage may have brought. This may seem like a given but if you are not on top
of this and setting a good example for your crew it will never happen. A little thing like a smile or help and directions
can go a long way in building a relation- ship with your customers. One terrible
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