If your pizzeria adds a fixed automatic gratuity to checks for larger parties, you'll need to make sure you're in compliance with revised Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules in 2014. As Nation's Restaurant News reports, the agency now essentially requires restaurant operators to treat fixed gratuities as service charges – that is, part of server wages – rather than tips, which are not factored into an employee's wages. This requirement means that restaurants can no longer cash out their servers at the end of the day and, according to many experts, will likely create payroll accounting headaches for operators. In response, some restaurants are reportedly considering getting rid of automatic gratuities entirely. Operators are advised to talk to their waitstaffs about the new rules and let them know what's coming. PMQ will cover this story in depth in the March issue.
It's normal for sales to take a dip after the holiday season, but there are ways for you to fight back and beat a January slump. Try some of the following: 1) Offer free delivery for the month of January only; 2) introduce something new; 3) show dieters that you have healthy offerings; 4) promote "crazy" specials; and 5) take advantage of the NFL playoffs.
Looking for ways to build traffic to your pizzeria? We checked in with marketing consultant Tom Feltenstein and developed a list of five promotions that could work for you. Topping the list is the Captain Hook strategy: Appoint or hire someone to be your pizzeria's Captain Hook, whose job is to go out into the community for an hour or two every day and "hook" prospective customers. Choose someone with excellent people skills and make sure he knows everything he needs to know about your pizzeria and your menu. Send this person out to neighborhood businesses bearing free pizzas or appetizers, plus lunch/dinner menus, catering menus and coupons for a specific product (say, one free medium one-topping pizza or one order of chicken wings) with an expiration date. The recipients of these visits will be surprised and delighted, especially if "Captain Hook" shows up around lunchtime with some great-smelling pizzas. They'll remember your pizzeria and talk it up to their friends, family members and co-workers, too.
So you think you're taking full advantage of all of your marketing resources? Think again. According to marketing guru Erika Silva Aguilera of MarketingGastronomico.com in Spain, many operators fail to use all of the marketing tools at their disposal. For starters, many restaurant menus are poorly designed and difficult to read, failing to draw attention to the pizzeria's most profitable items or to entice guests with mouthwatering descriptions. Other common errors include 1) failure to make an emotional connection with customers; 2) inadequate use of social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter; and 3) poorly designed websites that don't focus on the customer experience.
Athens, Georgia-based Your Pie was a pioneer in the fast-casual pizza movement, so it's no surprise that the chain is using the build-your-own trend to its advantage with the Pie of the Year contest. Each month Your Pie invites fans to submit their own customized masterpieces on Facebook, and a winner is selected based on fan voting. Monthly winners receive free Your Pie pizza for a month and get automatically entered into the Pie of the Year contest. In this final showdown, fans also vote on the overall winner, with a four-night trip to Italy and a $700 spending card as the grand-prize package. The 12 finalists represent a cross-section of Your Pie's 18 locations in Georgia, South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee. The pies often come with colorful names, including the Bulldawg Bite and Mama Walker's Mediterranean Madness. Voting on the 2013 Pie of the Year commenced on Jan. 2 and will end on Monday, Jan. 20, on Your Pie's Facebook page.
Are You Hiring Turkeys or Eagles? Some employees soar like eagles, and others are just plain turkeys. Pizza 360, the pizza industry's only online talk show, visits with legendary restaurant marketing consultant Tom Feltenstein about recruiting, motivating and retaining strong employees.