The pizza industry has gotten more crowded, but how can you get a leg up? Chris Lybeer with Revel Systems offers some suggested for technology and creative tactics to help any pizzeria get ahead.
Pizza is one of the most popular foods in the world. In fact, the global pizza market reached $141.1 billion (USD) in 2022 and is projected to keep growing. While there is a good reason for this growth — pizza is delicious and convenient — high demand is a breeding ground for competition.
Considering the stiff competitors in the space and a marketplace in constant evolution, not to mention ever-changing consumer expectations, how can you drive traffic and profits at your pizzeria?
Rethink your footprint
While there are thousands of pizza brands for diners to choose from, there are also more ways to order. Today’s pizzeria has several options for expanding its reach during operating hours, including:
All of these options for customer ordering are also ways for your brand to engage with existing and potential guests. If anything, the constraints lie not with the square footage of your restaurant space, but rather with your imagination.
Some of these ordering options can do more than increase your restaurant traffic (and profits!) — whether the guest visits on-premises or dines elsewhere. They can also help you work more efficiently, serving more customers with fewer in-house staff. Restaurants have a long history of challenges with staff turnover, and digital solutions can significantly alleviate some of the pressures of hiring a high volume of people.
Get creative with promotions
Let’s say you already practice “rethinking your footprint” and are leveraging multiple ordering channels for your guests.
If that’s the case, nice work! Now it’s time to consider how customer retention can help your bottom line. After all, once you have a customer, it’s easier (and more cost effective) to keep that customer than to attract new ones.
Did you know Bain & Company and Harvard Business School report that an increase in customer retention by 5% can lead to a company’s profits growing between 25% all the way up to around 95%? Not only that, but existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products and spend 31% more than new customers.
Those are compelling reasons to double down on guest retention. Two great methods for driving repeat visits are loyalty programs and creative promotional campaigns.
Minnesota-based Red’s Savoy Pizza doubles down on customer-centricity in all brand activities, and their loyalty program is no exception.
“It all goes back to meeting the consumer where they are,” Reed Daniels, CEO of Red’s Savoy, said. “Digital [channels] allow us to meet the guests where they are. The customer has a lot of power these days, and if you don’t adapt to how they want to interact with you, then they’re going to choose someone else.”
Close attention to customer preferences has paid off for the brand. Red’s Savoy attributes between 5-17% of their total revenue to their most loyal 2-4% of customers. That’s an incredibly efficient way to generate dollars, with so few people making up a significant slice of the proverbial pie.
Distinguish yourself from the competition
To revisit our theme of competition from the beginning of this article, there were more than 80,000 pizza restaurants in the US as of 2022. That figure has been relatively stable for the past decade, and it’s clear this is a huge market with lots of players.
Given that competition, what are you doing to attract customers differently from the other players in the market?
Here are a few examples of pizza brands leaning into their differentiators:
In the southwest corner of the United States, San Antonio-based Pizza Patrón has employed a few different tactics to distinguish their brand. A family-focused franchise, the pizza chain has long prioritized low pricing for their offerings so that families can enjoy a full meal while adhering to a budget.
The brand also takes advantage of its southwestern roots and offers a combination of classic pizza and Latin-inspired pies. The latter option includes selections like maize crust, tomatillo sauce, and other Latin flavors and spices for an added twist.
Learn more about the brand’s strategic decisions and its evolution over time in this case study.
Sauce on the Side
Of course, one way to stand out in the crowded pizza vertical is to package some of the same desirable ingredients in a whole new way. Enter Sauce on the Side, a growing calzone franchise.
The fast casual pizza-adjacent brand keeps a hyper focus on fresh quality ingredients, service obsession and an eye on the future. It also delivers everything there is to love about pizza in a steaming pastry pouch.
Folding in other service-centric experimentation, like hybrid delivery and full table service after orders are placed at the counter in stores, Sauce on the Side has cultivated some diehard fans with the details that set them apart from the rest.
Red’s Savoy Pizza
In addition to their thoughtful loyalty program, another way Red’s Savoy is standing out from the pizza pack is through one-of-a-kind menu items. In fact, the brand coined ‘Sota-style pizza, their own, proprietary approach to a beloved classic dish.
Increase efficiency through tech
Assuming you’ve already honed your products and services to drive customer traffic, have you considered how your technology can do a lot in the background to vastly improve your life as an operator as well as the guest experience?
Integration of digital solutions — for front-of-house and back-of-house operations alike — that seamlessly connect to one another are a complete game changer. Direct integrations greatly reduce issues like order errors from the point of entry to the kitchen and continue to deliver for back-office management with actionable data insights.
A strong, integrated system will show you where you can increase your operational efficiency, staff the right amount of people for the right times based on peak service hours, uncover areas of high food waste or overspending on inventory, and so much more.
Kitchen display systems
If you don’t think “digital” when you consider kitchen operations, think again. One of the greatest single investments you can make for your back-of-house order flow is a kitchen display system (KDS).
Especially if you’re endeavoring to grow order volume through digital channels, an efficient kitchen is a must. A KDS is a huge factor in improving your kitchen efficiency and operational quality.
Able to integrate directly with your POS and diversified ordering channels, a KDS outshines basic paper ticketing systems, able to capture order information in real-time and display it digitally for kitchen staff to execute. The digital process is simply better optimized and highly efficient (and less wasteful!) for managing and increasing workflow within your restaurant.
With a KDS, you have full visibility of your orders from placement to fulfillment. Color coding tickets and food items optimizes the turn-time for each order. That means that, at a glance, you can see how long an order has been out, alerting your staff instantly when an item needs immediate attention.
Utilizing this in conjunction with a prep times feature on your KDS can seriously improve your back-of-house game. As a bonus, analytics from your KDS will show you exactly how much time to allow for cooking on your various menu items.
Of course, another notable benefit of the KDS is the reduction in paper waste and on-going cost when you go digital. At about $50 per case, printer paper costs add up quickly. Restaurants average one to two cases of paper per week depending on the number of printers in use. That means a digital kitchen display is cleaner, greener, and cheaper in the long run.
In addition to back-of-house digital enhancements, guest-facing self-service options are also key technologies you can implement to drive profits in addition to pizzeria traffic.
There are so many reasons to consider self-service solutions for your pizzeria. A major reason is customers already want them. According to Nasdaq’s 2022 Digital-First Customer Experience Report, 81 percent of consumers say they want more self-service options.
As a business operator, there are a few different ways you can deliver on this interest. There’s the self-service kiosk, an in-store ordering option that offsets your need to staff counter service employees and helps dramatically reduce order errors while simultaneously guaranteeing auto-prompts for offers like upsell opportunities if you choose to include them.
If you’re not sold on investing in kiosks, consider that, essentially, most of your guests enter your doors with a pocket kiosk already on them: their mobile phone.
Mobile order-and-pay solutions work well at counter service and table service establishments alike, and require zero upfront hardware costs for your business. You simply need to enable the technology, which can be as simple as providing a QR code for quick ordering.
If you think about it, even online orders have elements of self-service, where the guest places their own order without talking to a human, and in some cases, visits the store later to pick up their food.
Whatever self-service ordering methods you consider, they can certainly help you drive traffic by providing an experience your consumers naturally desire, and they can increase profits through lower overhead costs and higher average order prices.
Are you ready to drive pizza profits?
Whether through physical footprint expansion with new order options, menu innovations and creative promotions, self-service solutions or other creative tactics, make sure you’re taking advantage of your opportunities to drive profits for your pizzeria.