From the horse's mouth

Do you offer online ordering? If not, why? Is so, would you recommend it?

Wayne Rempel – I have just started online ordering, so I am not sure how much it will increase my business, but I do recommend it. More and more people use the Internet for buying and this is a service that will enhance your pizza operation. The stats show that people will spend more money if they have time to look over your menu to see all their options. It also gives you an opportunity to do email marketing from the database you can build from your online store.

George Philbrook – We offered online ordering nine years ago, but stopped the service after about a year because the ordering process was very time consuming, and we received only a handfull of orders. After the customer placed the order online, we would receive a phone call from a computer-generated voice. Instructions were posted by the phone on how to answer the call (rewind, fast-forward, repeat etc.). The entire order would tie up an employee so long we had to cancel the online option. We're in the process of building a web site, once finished we'll look into online ordering again. I would like the order to go directly into our POS, but I don't know if that option is possible yet.

Ben Fornear – We don't offer online ordering. At this point I'm not seeing enough benefits. I'd rather invest those dollars into more proven marketing.

How are your summertime sales compared to the rest of the year?

Wayne Rempel – My summertime sales are about the same as the rest of the year. We are constantly doing box toppers and direct mailings during the summer to keep up sales. We also partner with non-profit groups and have things like car washes and fundraisers which keeps our name out there. During our towns local celebration we set up a booth and sell pizza by the slice, so we actually gain sales on that weekend.

George Philbrook – Our weekly sales tend to stay consistent throughout the year, but during the summer months we do see a change in the days of the week that customers order. People leaving for weekend vacations cause our end-of-week sales (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) to drop from 65 percent of total sales to about 50 percent. The very hot and humid days are usually the busiest and when the sun goes down we experience what we call the, "Oh my God! It's dark" rush, which lasts for about an hour.

Ben Fornear – This is our first year open so I don't have much of a track record. Last summer was our first two months open so we were slammed. June sales this year are very strong so far. Tourism is almost nonexistent for us so the locals make up all of our summer sales. Our marketing angle is to heat up our kitchen, not yours.

What chicken items do you offer on your menu? What sells the best? The worst?

Wayne Rempel – We have recently added fried chicken to our menu and that has been a big hit. We are selling around five cases a week, which equals out to around 900 pieces. We do combos of chicken and pizza so people can have a variety. Our wings sell very well, and we offer them in three flavors: hot, honey garlic and BBQ. We have four different chicken pizzas available as well as chicken wraps. They all sell well, but the wraps would be the slowest out of our chicken items.

George Philbrook – We like to keep things simple; our menu is limited to pizza, calzones and breadsticks. We do offer chicken as a topping, and it is one of our biggest sellers. Our most popular chicken topping is spicy chicken and the best selling specialty pizza is our Buffalo Chicken (spicy chicken, roasted red peppers cooked with a bleu cheese sauce). Most of our competitors do offer chicken side items, so we are looking into offering oven-baked wings as long as it doesn't interfere with the efficiency of the kitchen.

Ben Fornear – We offer four flavors of chicken wings: hot, mild, BBQ, and garlic Parmesan. This year we also started selling chicken strips. The strips are a great finger-food item for picky kids. Hot wings are the best seller. BBQ wings are the worst. Overall, wings sales are lackluster, even with a good amount of marketing. At $6.69 per dozen, I'm not making much money, and people around here find it expensive.