It’s easy to see why Venezia’s New York Style Pizzeria, with five locations in Phoenix and the surrounding area, is a favorite among locals. Numerous “best of” awards, a 24” Party Pizza eating challenge, a cameo on an episode of Breaking Bad, and pizza roots dating back to the ‘60s are just part of the draw at this family-run pizzeria.
Dominick and Jaime Montanile opened the first Arizona outpost of Venezia’s in 1998 and began offering online ordering in 2013. “Online ordering is 30% of my business now,” Dominick says. “We process 8,000 online orders per month across our five locations.” PMQ sat down with Dominick to find out how online ordering has affected his business and how his processes have evolved to keep up with changing technology.
PMQ: How has your business benefited since offering online ordering?
Montanile: Our customers have gained a greater knowledge of our menu overall, because they can now browse through our expanded online menu to find sandwiches and many other items we offer. We’re also saving money on labor costs, since 30% of our orders are going straight into the POS. Finally, our delivery check averages are increasing.
PMQ: How do check averages compare between phone and online orders?
Montanile: We see an average of $3 to $4 more spent on online orders, simply because guests have more time to look through the menu and make selections.
PMQ: And your online ordering is integrated into your POS?
Montanile: About 25% to 30% of our online orders come directly through our website into our SpeedLine POS system. Another 5% to 9% come from third-party online ordering sites through Chowly, a company that collects orders from sites such as GrubHub, ChowNow and DoorDash and delivers them directly into our POS.
PMQ: What company are you currently using for online ordering?
Montanile: I started with Brygid four years ago and switched to RTO about a year ago. The reason I switched was because RTO is subscription-based, charging $100 per store, and Brygid was charging per transaction, which adds up when you’re processing 8,000 transactions per month. We also were in the process of building a new website and needed online ordering that was really responsive.
PMQ: Why is it important to have online ordering that integrates with your POS?
Montanile: When we have orders coming from third-party sites, a staff member on our end has to click and confirm the order. It’s easy for someone to click “confirm” and then get distracted and forget about the order. This can result in mistakes and upset customers. When the orders are integrated into the POS—including those orders coming from third-party vendors—there’s no room for error. Additionally, when you have a large number of online orders coming in, like we do, if they weren’t integrated automatically, we would have to add extra staff to the schedule just to enter the orders into the POS.
PMQ: If you already have so many orders coming through your website, why use third-party sites also?
Montanile: Your competitors are on those sites—you have to be on them, too, so that your customers see you there. As long as the commission structure makes sense, we list Venezia’s on various third-party online ordering sites. Each site’s structure varies, but they normally ask for 12% to 15% commission from each order. We’ve also gained new customers from those sites who would never have known about us otherwise.
The Montaniles started offering online ordering in 2013, and it now comprises 30% of their business.
PMQ: How do you promote your online ordering?
Montanile: We make sure to promote the fact that online ordering is available on everything that customers see, including our website, emails, pizza boxes and fliers.
PMQ: What’s the process for changing your menu or adding specials/coupons to your online ordering site?
Montanile: When we make changes, we just email RTO, and they are usually able to get the items and coupons updated in their system in a few days. The key is, I have a coupon log sheet, and as long as I keep this managed—with our 300 coupons—and keep up with what has been sent or deleted with our online provider, we’re usually good. We actually just started offering our slice specials as an online ordering option. We have eight slice specials that are combo deals with a drink, all for $8 or less; 75% of our dine-in business comes from these combo deals, so it will be a great convenience for our customers to be able to order them online.
PMQ: Do you use the customer data gathered through your online orders to reward your best customers and grow your email list?
Montanile: We ask for their feedback and get them to complete a survey online, and we get about 15 surveys back per week. If they fill the survey out, we give them a 15%-off offer to use at our stores. It’s great for feedback for our locations. We are also able to continue to compile email addresses if they choose to opt in. We’ve been able to grow our email list to 55,000, which is great for us! We send out two emails per month with offers and promotions.
PMQ: What percentage of your online orders come through mobile phones?
Montanile: I actually just updated these figures with the reporting RTO provides—54% is desktop, and 46% is mobile.
PMQ: Do you find that customers are averse to placing large catering orders online?
Montanile: We’ve started to see larger orders placed online, but I find that if customers are placing an order of $300 or more, they tend to want to make sure it’s confirmed. Sometimes they will place the order, then call to confirm. We have a policy of calling and confirming any order over $80 as well.
PMQ: What’s your advice to operators who are still on the fence about online ordering?
Montanile: You’re losing out on 30% of your customer base, potentially!