Top 10 Tips for Starting a Successful Pizzeria
The restaurant industry is notorious for eating new restaurants alive and forcing them to close in the first three years. Luckily, pizza is America’s favorite food and a $36 billion a year industry,1 so you have a leg up on the competition by catering to the masses. Listed below are the top ten things you will need to assure that you succeed where so many others have failed:
- Make good pizza. The first and most important thing you need when starting a pizza business is good pizza. A lot of people who go into the restaurant business have already tinkered around in their home kitchens or have an old family recipe that has been passed down for generations. For those who do not have such a solid foundation, there are several basic pizza types that you can choose to offer. >> Learn About Different Types of Pizza
- Decide between franchising and going independent. 59% of the pizzerias in the United States are independently owned or small chains.2 Staying independent means that you have complete control over your business and your brand, which some people prefer. However, franchises already have brand awareness and have already solved some of the problems that new restaurant owners run into. >> Compare Franchise vs. Independent Restaurants
- Overestimate your startup costs. A lot of new restaurant owners underestimate how much it costs to open a restaurant. In order to plan for unforeseen expenses, adding an additional 15 to 25% to your budget will help you get through the crucial first year. >> Read about Funding Your New Restaurant
- Offer delivery and/or carryout. The fact of the matter is, a lot of people enjoy the convenience of being able to place a phone call and have a hot pizza delivered to their door in under an hour. With over 1 billion pizzas being delivered each year in the United States, having some sort of delivery or carryout option will assure that you are not turning away customers that want to eat at home but do not want to cook anything themselves.3 >> Pizza Delivery Business Planning
- Offer more than just pizza. Very few restaurants survive by offering a limited menu. Many pizza shops offer calzones, pasta or other Italian favorites to cater to individuals who are in the mood for Italian food, but not necessarily pizza.
- Lock in commodity prices. Cheese and flour are the most heavily used ingredients in the pizza industry. Unfortunately, the prices for these basic ingredients can fluctuate greatly on a daily basis, which can affect your bottom line. To better control your costs, you can contract with a food supplier to lock in a price for cheese, flour or other commodities so your prices are not subject to the whims of the stock market.
- Control your portions. Portion control is crucial to controlling overall ingredient costs, reducing waste and providing a uniform product. Use restaurant scales to measure dough ingredients, flat bottom ladles for saucing a pizza and measuring cups for your other toppings to ensure that you are not loosing money by putting too many mushrooms on a pizza.
- Cater to the masses. If you provide delivery at your pizzeria, then catering should be easy to implement. Schools, offices or any event that needs to feed a lot of people can easily be catered by a pizza shop. For most parties, you can expect to serve two or three slices of pizza per person. You will also want to include some of your other menu items on the catering menu, at a discounted price. >> More on Catering Events
- Insure your delivery driver. Restaurants are required to carry insurance against loss of their business, worker’s compensation and basic liability insurance. Establishments that provide delivery services will need to carry additional liability insurance to cover their drivers when they are on the clock. >> Learn More (Delivering Pizza)
- Be wary of discounting. Pizzeria customers are accustomed to the coupons that come on their pizza box. Offering coupons and discounts is a good way to bring customers in the door, especially during difficult economic times, but those discounts will eat into your bottom line. Also, if you discount too much for too long, it can erode your brand value. If you feel the need to discount, only do it for a limited time to protect your brand and your bottom line.
Starting any new business can be a daunting task. New restaurants in particular face a steep uphill battle, because the majority of the concepts fail within the first three years. Luckily, you have chosen to provide a food that 94% of the U.S. population enjoys eating, so as long as you educate yourself on starting a restaurant, you stand a fair chance of succeeding where others have failed.4
3 PizzaDelivery.com, “Everything you ever wanted to know about Pizza…” http://www.pizzadelivery.com/funstuff/funfacts.aspx (accessed August 20, 2009).
4 Pizzaware.com, “Pizza Industry Facts, General Sales & Consumption Statistics, Favorite US/World Pizza Toppings,” http://pizzaware.com/facts.htm (accessed August 20, 2009).
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