Problem solver: How can I keep a big slice of the pizza business?
Q: I own an independent pizza shop and have found over the last number of years that I have got dragged into a price war and I find it difficult to make a profit. Could you suggest ways I could get the consumer focus off value onto other things?
A: To some degree consumers have now been 'trained' to focus on value and that is probably here to stay. That doesn't mean that they won't look at anything else. We all know that at the weekend we like to treat ourselves and perhaps spend more than we normally would for something unique or special.
Why don't you consider developing a specialist range of pizzas or a specialist range of toppings which you place greater emphasis on at the weekends and for which consumers would pay a premium.
If you haven't done so already, look at upselling and bundling items together. While I know it is common in the pizza industry to sell bundle offers, I have noticed that the focus is on individual products rather than the bundle offers. How good are your staff at upselling and recommending items to accompany the pizza? Are the existing items that you have interesting and innovative?
You might also find that bringing in some limited edition pizzas for a week or two would be a good way to get customers away from the routine toppings.
The good news is that across all businesses I am getting feedback that the consumer is beginning to be more adventurous and loosening their belt slightly so now is probably a good time to put some of your new strategies in action.
Q: Do you have a view on companies using green and sustainable strategies to differentiate their business?
A: Bord Bia research would suggest that one of the key trends is that there is a body of people who are seeking out suppliers of products and services who take sustainability seriously.
I am aware of a number of farm-based businesses in North Dublin who have installed wind turbines, and reed beds for water treatment etc. These are positive developments and demonstrate that a large business can operate in partnership with nature. Bord Bia has an Origin Green Programme, a business-to-business scheme to promote the green credentials of food producers to the international buyer community. This reinforces the image of Ireland as the green food island and is a natural fit with our marketing position. A green and sustainable business strategy makes sense. But it has to be done for genuine reasons and not some marketing gimmick to gain the attention of consumers. It needs to be done because it is the right thing to do: the fact that it makes commercial sense is a bonus.
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