Your pizzeria may be operating without any glitches, but does that mean it’s running efficiently? In light of the growing challenges operators are facing — labor shortages, higher costs, lower margins and stiffer competition — it may be an ideal time to assess what’s working and what isn’t, and make some changes to maximize profitability and customer satisfaction. Start with these five steps:
1. Evaluate and Update Your Menu
Giving your customers choices is great. However, when your menu contains so many options that you’re routinely discarding ingredients or your staff is making order errors, you’re losing money and probably frustrating your patrons.
Conduct an annual menu review to identify which items are selling well and which should be eliminated due to underperformance. Consider a menu upgrade that allows you to promote best-sellers and incorporate on-trend dishes and flavor profiles, and don’t overlook the power of accommodating health-conscious customers with better-for-you choices like airy, artisan flatbreads.
If you’re thinking about launching a new menu item but aren’t ready to print or upgrade your menu, consider adding an insert in the current menu or using a table tent to promote the new item, positioning it as a “limited time” offering. Then, track sales to determine whether or not it would make a profitable addition to your menu.
2. Track Ingredient Usage and Costs
The “little here, little there” losses caused by inattentive ingredient measuring can add up fast. For example, adding just a half-ounce too much cheese on each of 1,500 pies could cost you almost $6,000* a year!
To prevent profit erosion and food waste, it’s important to manage ingredient usage through standard operating procedures (SOPs) that provide strict guidelines for weighing, measuring or counting out ingredient pieces (i.e., pepperoni). Having a protocol in place has a twofold benefit: you’ll spend less on ingredient replenishment, and you’ll ensure each pie is prepared exactly the same regardless of preparer or location.
3. Leverage Technology
You likely made a substantial investment in a Point of Sale (POS) system for your operation and, if you configured it with time- and cost-saving capabilities like food and labor cost tracking, you’re realizing some steady return on that investment.
Don’t let a POS system lull you into a false sense of technological security though. Reinvesting in hardware that may quickly become obsolete in the digital age can be throwing good money after bad. Instead, larger and multi-store operations should explore cloud-based POS options that help you transition from owning equipment and software — and all the headaches, costly upgrades, and server support that come with it — to a rental scenario that offers simplified, centralized computing.
4. Train Continuously
It’s common to spend the most time training team members when they first come on board. It’s an obvious need. However, overlooking opportunities to continuously train your staff may lead to disengaged employees and careless practices.
Fostering a culture of ongoing education empowers your team to self-identify areas of improvement and interest, leading to higher job satisfaction and freer communication. In turn, happy employees build and support a culture that attract better potential new hires when you’re recruiting.
5. Maintain Quality and Consistency
One other consideration that all operators — especially those with multiple locations — should add to the list: consistency in presentation. Nothing ruins a customer’s impression of your pizzeria more than a bad experience caused by inconsistent food preparation. Resist the urge to switch toppings just to save a few dollars on a temporary basis and make sure your pizza is the same delicious pie every time it’s in front of your customer.
According to customers, crust is the number one influencer of pizza quality. Not only do pre-made dough balls ensure consistency across locations and brand, but the availability of custom recipes checks the time-consuming task of daily dough-making off the list of back of house responsibilities, all without sacrificing the quality your patrons expect.
Mitigating the impact of labor shortages, fluctuating costs, shrinking margins, and more aggressive competition is a tough but surmountable task for pizzeria operators with the advice found in our latest eBook, The Efficient Kitchen: Doing More With Fewer Employees. Click the button below to get your copy today!
*Assumes cheese at $2.40/lb.