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The Struggle Is Real: When Customers Complain About Your Pizza Prices

This pizzeria owner is feeling the strain, but Think Tank users tell him to stick to his vision.

Are pizza prices on the rise? Think Tank user npizza recently asked for advice when it comes to raising his pizza prices:

I've owned my takeout delivery shop for 22 years. I'm located in MA, and the current minimum wage is $12 and is scheduled to increase to $15. When I opened, the minimum was $5.25, and the price of a large pizza was $8.00. Now my large is $11.99, and I need to go up again. Domino's charges $12.49. My issue is customer complaints on social media ... I'll place a Facebook ad, and former customers will bash me for high prices. I am barely making a profit, and people make it seem like I'm price gouging ... The amount of time I work on the business per day/week isn't worth my paycheck. I'm in my 50s, and I'm really afraid the stress is going to kill me. 
Time to get out????

Related: Should You Raise Your Pizzeria's Prices in 2019?

New Yorkers might say there’s one way to predict the future of pizza prices – check the current subway fare. For decades, the Pizza Principle has held true: the price of a plain slice of pizza has uncannily matched the price of a one way subway fare in New York. However, a recent vote by the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) has derailed the Pizza Principle, according to the Wall Street Journal. The MTA voted against price increases, leaving the subway fare at $2.75, while the average slice in New York runs at $3 to $3.50.

The Wall Street Journal notes that pizza by the slice in New York has diverged into two subsets: the high-volume $1 slice and the gourmet $3-5 slice. What’s rare is something that falls mid-range in the $2.75 category. 

If you are considering raising your prices, ask yourself which category you fall into. Do you strive for high volume at the most affordable price? Or does your quality pizza and employee benefits justify the higher prices? 

Other Think Tank users commiserated with npizza's concerns about raising prices:

Woodfiredandrew: Hang in there! You may say, "Easier said than done," but trust me, if you can tell the difference between your pizza and major chains' pizza in quality, look and taste, then you have a legitimate shot at it. … . Learn to ignore the few (complainers) and don't take it personally as long you are completely honest about you fairr pricing and quality.

Pizza0504: I have no problem replying to comments about high prices. Most of the people complaining about prices are the same people that want me to pay cooks $15 an hour. I have what people consider high prices. I think we have good pizza. We sell it for what we can to keep our store open.

Gunner: My dad, who’s in his 80s, complained that we don’t offer deals/discounts, and I told him he wasn’t our target audience and he could keep buying cheap pizza at the cheap places. Why work harder for the same profit? Raise your prices, make a quality product and treat your customers like you really appreciate them.

Woodfiredandrew: Bottom line, you have a vision - stick to it, learn to ignore noise around you. Stick to quality and fair pricing based on your own numbers and not based on what everyone is charging around you. I always say it is like playing a game of golf - you are not really playing against anybody. You are playing your own game. 

npizza clarified that most of the complaints he was receiving about high prices came from the older generations who remembered when his large pizza sold for $8. These customers live on fixed incomes (and they probably remember the days when a New York subway fare cost only 50 cents (1975-1980) to boot). In response, Pizza0504 suggests using Instagram to pull in a younger crowd. 

Are you debating raising your pizza prices as well? Drop us a line in the comments below. 

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