PMQ's online community of pizza store owners and operators have been tackling the fundamental questions of the industry for over a decade now at thinktank.pmq.com. The Think Tank is an online forum, specially made for people in the pizza industry. But what's so great about it?
Well, here are the top 10 reasons for joining the Think Tank, in no particular order, along with links to real forum threads.
1. Seek advice for complex human dilemmas
It gets tricky navigating human emotion, professionalism and morality. What do you do if you catch your manager stealing? The one person you trusted the most? Or how would you approach your new landlord when he hands over your new space in a complete shambles? With the range of conundrums that business owners face, there is almost always a Think Tank member who has been through something similar and lived to tell the tale from an experienced point of reference.
2. Get product and brand reviews from people who have used them
Users have no qualms about venting their frustrations and lavishing their praise on companies they have dealt with in the past. As you're considering a possible new oven purchase or shopping around for a new POS, see what your peers have to say about those brands.
3. Post items you are looking to sell or buy
PMQ Yardsale is a separate category in the Think Tank forum where equipment for sale can be freely advertised, such as pasta machines or POS work stations. But Think Tankers have also been known to post larger items too, like an entire pizzeria. You can also post about items that you are searching for.
4. Unravel what’s going wrong with your dough
Whether you're wanting to get rid of gum lines for good or solve a suddenly "arisen" dough problem, our members know a thing or two (or three) about dough. Why, you can even ask the Dough Doctor, Tom Lehmann, a direct question in an exclusive forum category located here.
5. Rally members for support
Long-standing Think Tank member daisy1 used a service called Kiva to borrow money to move her shop and save on rent. When all her friends and family member resources had been exhausted, she got an extra boost from her Think Tank mates and cleared her goal. Now the contributing Think Tank members are being paid back the money they loaned to daisy1 via Kiva as agreed from the get-go.
6. Find out what kind of marketing tactics others are using and what works for them
What kind of coupons are other pizza stores using? How effective have punch cards been as a loyalty program? Who's paying for Facebook advertising, and is it worth it? In addition to sharing their experience, you will find Think Tank users giving suggestions for wording on others' promotional materials, strategizing how to reach customers most effectively and debating which medium of advertising works best for their situation.
7. Take part in celebrations of life with community members
The pizza business is a family business and we don't forget to celebrate when celebration's due. Perhaps you're proud of an employee who made the papers or are looking back on 60 years of marriage. Think Tankers enjoy staying up-to-date on more than the well-being of your store.
8. Compare what you’re paying on commodities
See how you compare with the rest of the country on things like cheese and delivery insurance. Members openly ask and respond to questions like, "How much are you paying for ______ ?"
9. Ask questions about the equipment/brands you already own/use
Discover new ways of using your current equipment by asking technical questions to people. For example, what's the best way to set the finger profile for an impinger oven when baking a Detroit-style pizza crust? Or how do I stack the set of used deck ovens I just acquired?
10. Create life-long relationships with business owners and friends whom you can actually meet in real life at events like the Think Tank reunion, held in conjunction with the dates for Pizza Expo. The event is free and open only to registered Think Tank members. All you need to do is RSVP on the event page. Sign up for the Think Tank here and come join us March 8th for the next reunion.
If you can't make the reunion this year, you still have plenty of reasons to drop in and say hi at thinktank.pmq.com. Not to mention, once you're part of the community, you may get some visitors along the way. Think Tankers love to visit each others' stores and have been known to drop by shops when coming into another member's town.
See video footage from last year's Think Tank Reunion right here: