PMQ’s Think Tank (thinktank.pmq.com) is the only pizza industry forum on the Web, with 2,500 members who meet online regularly to discuss the pizza business. In this new column, we’ll introduce you to some of the Tank’s seasoned members who can show you the ropes and lend insights into how the forum has benefited their businesses.
Real Name: Nick Sasso
Pizzeria: Nick’s Pizzeria, Grantville, GA (former owner)
Date Joined: January 7, 2007
Number of Posts: 3,792
PMQ: How many years were you in the pizza business?
NicksPizza (Nick): I had my own restaurant for eight years. After my restaurant closed, I consulted for four months with a property owner to prepare his space for a new pizzeria.
When did you first start using the Think Tank, and do you remember why you joined?
I joined in January 2007. I had been a subscriber to PMQ for a couple of years and owned my pizzeria for three years. I found out there was an online forum, and I was looking for connections with other professionals living the life I was living. I knew I needed encouragement and fresh ideas to keep my place growing. I thrive most when talking about the business with others who are walking the same road. I met up with a member named j_r0kk, who was quite the energetic poster at the time. We had several private message conversations that energized me to get more involved. The rest of the community at the time really encouraged and challenged each other. I was so immersed in the pizza business and soaking up as much as I possibly could. I was posting and reading in the early mornings and then late at night after we closed.
Why have you continued to return to the Think Tank over the years?
I always get new ideas or impressions from the people I’ve met here. They challenge what I think I know. I also wanted to give other new people the encouragement and insights I picked up over the years. I began to learn so much more by telling people what lessons I thought I had learned. Turns out I had to double-check and challenge myself every time one of the pizza people called me out or encouraged me.
When we relocated and had to physically build out our new space, the Tankers kept me going. I designed the place myself on my laptop. My driver and I framed the walls, hung the stud frames, installed the ceilings and drywall, did floors, and placed all the equipment. I designed, built and installed the hanging light fixtures. It was an enormous task that was profoundly satisfying when it was finally all done. I would not have made it those last three to four weeks without this group of people.
What do you use the Think Tank for most?
Now I use it to stay connected to the industry. I closed my restaurant in 2011 because the local economy crashed. I still think about getting back to the pizza life if the right situation comes along. I try to stay current with what people are talking about here. There is a wealth of ideas, wisdom and challenges here. I’ve learned a lot of basic lessons that could be useful to others looking to start up or kick-start their pizza place. Still, I have to keep learning myself and stay honest about what I really do know and what I just think I know.
Can you share an example of a business tip or tips you picked up in the Tank that helped your restaurant?
The No. 1 philosophy I learned from talking to the community here is: Decide who you are as a business. Write a formal business plan—actually write it down, and make all of your decisions based on your identity and goals. I blew past so many distractions living that way. If it turned out an idea was too good to pass up and had to be done, then we amended our goals or identity or target audience and continued on. Decide who to be and be the best at it. Our marketing, print assets, charity work, community involvement, business relationships and more were all connected to what we wanted to accomplish in our business plan. If it didn’t advance our goals or brand, then we didn’t do it.