By Anna Johansson
Millions of people dream of opening their own pizzeria. You’ll get to come up with creative new pizza ideas, work with and serve countless people, make a significant stream of revenue, and possibly sample your own delicious fare on a regular basis.
That said, opening a pizzeria is certainly no guarantee of success. Every year, thousands of hopeful restaurateurs are forced to close shop because of dwindling sales, inefficient practices, or just a surplus of competition.
So what does it take to run a successful pizzeria?
An Original Idea
How many pizza restaurants are in your city? Chances are, you can think of at least three or four immediately. If you do your research, you may find a dozen or more within convenient driving distance. Restaurants are a common and popular business to start, and within the restaurant industry, pizzerias are especially popular. If you want any chance of attracting your own target audience and standing out from the crowd, you’ll need some way to differentiate your brand—something that makes you different.
You could use this as a platform to create some kind of unique gimmick; for example, you may make your pizzas in a specific way, using a unique piece of equipment or relying on an unconventional structure. You could also offer flavors and types of pizza that no one else can, or you can serve them in an atypical setting. What’s important is that you have some distinguishing characteristic that can’t be easily replicated by a competitor.
Efficient Internal Systems
Restaurants are much more likely to succeed when they can operate efficiently from an internal perspective. The right pizza POS system can instantly make it easier to collect payment from customers, helping your employees get their jobs done faster and resulting in quicker transactions for paying customers. Well-trained employees will work more efficiently, serving more customers and providing better quality service. And of course, good workflows will enable more collaboration, teamwork, and smooth work.
The Right Location
Restaurants often live or die because of their choice of location. If your pizzeria is located on a busy street corner, it’s going to be seen by thousands of people daily, and it’s going to be a convenient choice for lunch. If it has available parking and ample space, it’s going to be even more attractive to potential customers. By contrast, if this is a space that has housed many failed businesses in the past, it could reflect negatively on your pizzeria—even if your food and service are exceptional.
A Defined Target Audience
Everybody loves pizza, right? That’s not exactly true, but there are many segments of people who love pizza. Your instinct may be to target the largest audience possible by making pizza that everyone will love, but this isn’t necessarily the best path forward.
It may be better to define a specific target audience; you’ll alienate a portion of the broader pizza-loving audience, but you’ll have a much higher appeal to the people you’re targeting. For example, you may focus on serving children with smaller-sized slices and fun shapes, or you may focus on serving affluent adults with gourmet pizza varieties and a quiet, luxurious interior serving environment. Try to target an audience that isn’t being effectively served by a competitor in your city.
An Effective Marketing and Advertising Strategy
If your pizzeria serves good food and creates a nice environment, it should generate more business through word of mouth marketing; your earliest customers will want to tell their friends and family members about their experience, spreading the word about your amazing pizza. However, you’ll still need some way to generate those initial customers.
Accordingly, it’s important for any pizzeria to invest in a marketing and advertising strategy. Make sure your physical location is visible with clear branding, and invest in strategies like printed advertisements, digital ads, and search engine optimization (SEO). With the help of marketing professionals, you can ensure a positive return on investment (ROI).
No pizzeria can be successful without good pizza. Even if you follow all the strategies on this list, you may fail if your pizza simply isn’t up to snuff. “Good” pizza is a bit subjective, so whatever strategy you use to improve your pizza recipe, make sure you test it with your target audience and get their thoughts. Sometimes, tweaking the source of your ingredients, the blend of your ingredients, or your preparation methods is all it takes to take your pizza from mediocre to unforgettable.
One more important thing to note—even with the best business practices in place, pizzeria success is still partially dependent on luck. If you’re in the right place at the right time, you’ll have a much easier experience attracting a customer base.
Anna Johansson is the founder and CEO of Johansson Consulting, where she works with businesses to create marketing and PR campaigns.