Catering corner

In Napolian Hill’s classic, Think & Grow Rich, he talks about a study conducted at an Ivy League University. They tracked their graduating class for quite a number of years into the future and wanted to find out how successful they had become.

They discovered one percent of that year’s class had a net worth greater than the remaining 99 percent of their classmates combined. Why such a huge difference? They all had degrees from a prestigious university.

The one factor common to all of the 1 percent  super-achievers was the fact that they had written, specific goals. The other 99 percent  did not. I’ve personally found that setting and committing my goals to paper will result in achieving those goals…even when I had no earthly idea how I was going to reach them.

Right now, stop what you are doing and take ten minutes to write your pizzeria goals down for 2005. Be as specific as possible.

How To Blow Those Goals Out Of The Water

Goal setting without an action plan is wishful thinking. I want to review the steps I and my coaching members use to create an action plan that is attainable and profitable.

1. Identify Your Profit Centers: Where does your money come from? Do you offer delivery? Do you have a large take-out business? What about a dining room? Preferably on a spreadsheet, list your profit centers with the dollar amount each generated and the percentage of your total sales. This will give you a snap shot of where your business comes from. You will use this information to allocate marketing resources and dollars for the upcoming year. So, if 72 percent of your sales comes from delivery, you’ll want to devote about 70 percent of your budget to advertising and promoting delivery.

2. Examine Other Profit Centers: What other profit centers are available for you to grow sales? Some pizzerias promote a school lunch program. I have worked with many operators that have added drop-off catering to their sales mix. The check averages are high, the customers are cost effective to target and you get paid to advertise your pizzeria. You might find adding a new profit center is the most effective way to build your top line sales, especially as your store matures or faces increased competition.

3. Create A Marketing Calendar: Whether you use an inexpensive calendar from an office supply store or create your own with desktop publishing software, you must create a marketing calendar to hold you accountable to results. I like a calendar with large boxes for each day. The highest failure rate is from operators that practice “reactive marketing.” They are like a puppet; reacting to the latest marketing gimmic sold to them by ad reps. You want to be proactive. Start by filling out what you know to be “winners” from your previous experience. For instance, if you know Money Mailer pulls a high return for you once a month, put that in your calendar. You’ll also want to experiment with new or different marketing and advertising strategies. Your goal is to identify new “winners” to keep in your marketing arsenal, weed out the “losers” and build a stronger marketing plan each year.

4. Consider Adding New Marketing To Your Mix: Here are a few ideas that have proven winners in marketing.

A. Communicate Regulary With Your Current Customers: With it being six times easier to sell an existing customer more than to find a new customer, it’s foolish to not communicate regularly. We use a bi-monthly newsletter complete with cartoons, trivia and funny stories. You want your customers to look forward to receiving the mailer. Don’t worry. We’re able to include plenty of shameless self promotion. I also like sending birthday cards to my customers good for a free meal. Most pizzerias use box toppers. Make sure you change them up regularly. Test new offers and formats. Again, you’ll find offers that’ll pull two to three times your current control and will then become your new traffic builder.

B. Hold A Contest Or Drawing: Bringing in new customers and building your databae are both results of a successful giveaway. You can choose to buy the prize yourself, get a local merchant to sponsor it or use a company like ezRestaurantPromotions.com to put together a turnkey promotion. Prizes like a new Porsche are not outside the realm of possibility since there are insurance companies that assume the risk for a very reasonable fee. An example of this can be found at www.pmq.com/mag/2004july_august/ potomac.php near the bottom where it talks about a Hummer givaway.

C. Use Niche Marketing: The more specific the niche, the higher your odds of hitting a marketing home run. We distribute a “Great Student Certificate” to each school in our neighborhood around report card time. The returns are through the roof since printing costs are minimal and the kids bring their full paying parents in with them. Promoting your catering through niches is a great strategy. You can attend bridal shows to promote your Italian specialties for rehearsal dinners. Hospitals often bring in catered meals for their employees in honor of Hospital Month in the spring. The day after Thanksgiving is a big shopping day, and retailers spring for lunch for their employees. We’ve brought in over $12,000 in catering off this niche alone in a single day. There are over thirty-three profitable catering niches to persue. With catering check averages being over ten times more than delivery or dine-in, it’s a great way to boost your top and bottom line.

5. Invest in Training Your Staff: Great marketing gets the phones to ring and the customers to walk in. Poorly trained employees cause those dollars to be wasted. We trained our staff to use a new upselling script that puts an extra $250 a week in our pockets.

6. Stick to Your Plan: Once you’ve committed your marketing plan to paper, make sure you are accountable to it. Whether that means you take responsibility or pay a key employee to be your marketing person. Someone needs to take responsibility for marketing. It is the highest ROI job in your pizzeria. You can not save your way to prosperity, but you can sell your way to success.

7. . . . But Have A Little Flexibility: Persistance is admirable. Persisting with a losing tactic is insanity. If you see a marketing initiative is a big dud, fix it. If it can’t be fixed, drop it quick. It’ll free you up to find a winner.

Each year the race starts anew. The slate is clean and your profit and loss statement starts at zero. A little pressure on yourself to outdo your best keeps this business fun and exciting. I hope these ideas inspire you and guide you to the best year ever!