Your delivery drivers are brand ambassadors for your pizza shop. A personable and professional driver can quickly forge a connection with your customers and make your brand memorable. An unkempt, surly slob will make those customers think twice before placing another order with your pizzeria. If you’re looking to improve your pizza delivery service, you can start by hiring, training and retaining better drivers. Here are some tips:
Personality matters. Toppers Pizza, located in Whitewater, Wisconsin, selects all of its team members, especially drivers, based on personality, Mark Watt, Toppers’ franchise operations director, told PMQ in a past article on pizza delivery. “Pizza is a party in a box, and our delivery drivers are bringing the party, so we look for an outgoing, cheerful person,” Watts said. “One of our core values is to have fun, so we choose people who truly want to be in this business, not just those who need a job.” Al Newman, director of training at Hungry Howie’s Pizza, agreed, adding, “It sounds simple, but I always look for a candidate with a great smile. You can teach skills, but not personality.”
Teach them to hustle. Dilly-dallying doesn’t cut it with Toppers. The chain trains its drivers to jog to the customer’s door, proving that the company is committed to speedy service. They also carry bags with little extras, such as paper plates, napkins and Parmesan and red pepper packets, to enhance the customer’s experience. Pizzeria operators should also encourage drivers to shake each customer’s hand and thank them for their business. “We stress making eye contact when sincerely thanking the customer at the end of the transaction,” said Jeff Woodruff, VP of Operations for Pagliacci Pizza in Seattle.
Incentivize drivers with bonuses. Pagliacci Pizza offers its drivers medical, dental and vision insurance options and a 401(k) plan with a company match. Of course, most smaller independent operators can’t afford to provide such benefits, but performance-based bonuses are a different story. Pagliacci offers “bonuses aligning our drivers’ interest with what’s good for the company,” Woodruff said. “Our driver-preventable error rate for all of 2017 was .11 percent, meaning we had one driver-preventable complaint out of roughly every 900 deliveries, including catching kitchen mistakes before leaving the store!”
Give them a cool set of wheels. Like health benefits, a customized delivery car might not be an affordable option for many pizzeria owners, but it’s worth looking into, notes Richard Ames, owner of Daddio’s Pizzeria in Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada. “If you look at the cost of vehicle advertising compared to a static billboard, you’ll likely find the costs per month to be lower for the vehicle,” Ames told PMQ in a previous article. “The advantage of a vehicle is that it’s going where your customers are, as opposed to being part of the background clutter or ‘visual noise’ on the side of the road.” Even if you can’t afford a tricked-out set of wheels, you can still experiment with more affordable signage, such as car toppers, magnets and decals or even car wraps with your logo.
Request customer feedback. Every Pagliacci Pizza delivery box comes with a comment card. Customers can also fill out a comment form online. And, of course, customers will use crowdsourcing platforms like Yelp to praise you or vent their spleens. But take all feedback to heart, especially the negative kind. Every customer complaint should be viewed as an opportunity to improve your business.