As a consumer it’s easy to feel taken for granted. You support a business through buying their products, following them on social media and even referring new customers. Then you get a scripted and impersonal, “Welcome to ……..pizzeria, how can I help you?”.
There are business owners who have realised that they could be doing more but find themselves asking the question “How?”. Loosing patrons to a flashy pizzeria chain is no joke. Have you considered why you might be losing those customers and how your pizzeria can maintain its personal touch?
The answer to this question is listed below in three simple (yet difficult to master) steps.
Staff morale is critical.
The way in which you treat your staff is essential to your success. This is the number one hurdle for many businesses.
The simple fact is that without staff you have no business. It may be tempting to disagree, after all you put in the blood sweat and tears to get this business off the ground. But, business owners rely on their people to successfully run a pizzeria.
Paying well is not the only motivation required for your staff to do a great job and treat customers in a way that has them returning again and again. As Dale Carnegie wrote in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, the real secret is arousing in the other person an eager want. The truth is, if your staff does not have a passion for your brand or thrive in the culture you’ve created, they will not enjoy the job. It will become about the paycheck. Take suggestions, praise staff for going beyond the call of duty, be generous with words of kindness and appreciation, and develop a culture of respect and sincere care. Have a staff discount program, invest in their growth and well-being and most importantly ensure the workplace is fun and energetic even on tough days.
2. Customer feedback
Ever walk into a pizzeria and see a customer feedback box that’s gathering dust, or visit a social media page which was last updated a year ago?
In the digital age, before a customer visits a pizzeria to part with their hard-earned cash, they will often times have a look at your website or social media page to read the feedback of other patrons. Gone are the days of filling in paper feedback forms covered in happy and sad faces. Now consumers are speaking directly to businesses using the digital platforms available. If they believe their complaints are falling on deaf ears, chances are they won’t come back. No matter how good the pizza is. Treat customer feedback like the gift it is. A sincere response and appreciation for the opportunity to improve will go a long way.
So how do you do it: identify a staff member who has a flare for writing and assign them to deal with all customer feedback. Respond to all feedback within 24 hours – or even better set up an auto responder which acknowledges receipt of feedback. Reply your customers showing gratitude, acknowledgement of any criticism and an embracing of suggestions. Encourage and reward feedback by giving a customer 15% off their next meal and encourage them to return to see how you’ve put their feedback into action.
3. Customer loyalty program
Customer loyalty programs are a dime a dozen and many are little more than an attempt to collect information. This is a great opportunity to offer something of real value and to make it worth the customer’s while to participate. Less admin and more fun. A simple card that is stamped for each pizza purchased or an app which collects points to redeem a free meal, is practical and achievable. Issue special offers that are exclusively available to loyalty customers. Bear in mind this will only work if your staff promotes the system and encourages customers to redeem rewards.
A discount coupon is great, but nothing beats getting something for free! It’s more often than not the simple things that make customers feel the greatest sense of appreciation. In reality there’s a limit to how much you can give for nothing. Get creative if the budget is tight. Partner with other local businesses to run campaigns that reach a wider audience. Put a bit more thought into the prizes you offer for competitions. It could be putting up the customer’s picture in the store, engraving their name on a floating trophy or a limited edition t-shirt. All simple and inexpensive but it gives the winner bragging rights and adds a personal touch that will make you stand out of the crowd.
These are among many aspects which you as a business owner have to take into account to ensure your success. As consumers, pizza lovers and pizzeria frequenters, we hope these tips will help you offer the customers who spend their money with you the best possible experience, which is what they deserve.
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