August 16, 2011

DOES YOUR “PIZZA” TASTE LIKE CARDBOARD?

pizza = cardboard + paper mache + acrylic paintThat long-term customer just said your pizza tastes like cardboard. Your pizza tastes okay to you.

Sure you've been finding ways to cut down on the costs. Mushrooms cover more of the pizza but the slices are thinner and cost less per pie. Ditto for the onions and other toppings. The cheese is cheaper too.

The ‘za tastes fine as long as you don't reheat it the next day. Your dough is drier than ever which helps sell more drinks. Besides, customers can buy back the sauce you've taken away. You call it "dipping sauce". Your sauce has cheaper ingredients and more filler too.
The taste is fine ... once you get used to it.

Insignificant

The changes shouldn't matter to the customers and the price increases were minor. The modifications boost profitability. Besides, you need to spend more on advertising to get back some of the customers who didn't like the last batch of changes. Switching to spring water and recycled cardboard wasn't enough of an offset.
You didn't like all those changes either but as a franchisee, you have no say.

Annoying

Still it's annoying when customers complain. They're getting so particular. If they had their own pizza store, they'd be doing the same things you are. You’re running a business, after all.

What's really annoying is that pizza place down the street. They're not part of a chain. They don't advertise. They don't offer pasta or wings or desserts or specials. How do they survive in today's economy? They charge more but use fresh toppings and real cheese. That's no way to run a business. What are they trying to prove? They don't have a catchy jingle or an easy-to-remember phone number. Forget about ordering online. They're behind the times. But they're still in business. Why are they still so busy?

Submersed

Pity the submarine shop too. Customers see their subs being made. They know how fresh ripe tomatoes look. Luckily, they aren't good at spotting the slightly thinner cheese or the savings from switching from slices to triangles. They don't know how the ingredients have been cheapened either. Still, there's less leeway with subs.

At least your customers can't tell what grade of tomatoes are going into the sauce. Chemicals aren't exactly cheap. Even you know that a pizza baking doesn't smell as nice as before. Next month, the aroma designers will launch a scent to fix that.

Cardboard

There's that customer's car again. They're coming back. They always get pizza on Tuesdays. Wait … they're passing by you. Doesn't that box pressed against the window look like it came from that other place pizza place?

Maybe their cardboard box tastes like pizza?

Lessons

Small changes build and big consequences. The hotel that gradually deteriorated is an example. It’s like diluting the soup and cutting down on the portions. Each compromise was insignificant on its own. Now there's no point returning ever again.

Are you adding more filler or using cheaper ingredients ... without passing on the savings? Undoing the damage isn't easy and might be impossible. Maybe your customers would prefer higher quality and accept higher prices? Even if your competitors don’t think that.

Links

PS Have you had a great pizza lately?

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