So you are thinking about becoming a pizza entrepreneur and joining the ranks of pizza makers around the country engaged in keeping Americans well fed and happy? Fantastic idea and as always-easier said than done but with today's opportunities and the internet it is a whole lot easier than it used to be. In fact it's night day when you compare opening a place today with opening a place 20 years ago. "How can that be ?" you may ask. Well consider a few things like:
1. Recipes. There is an infinite amount of recipes available on the internet to choose from with sources like Google, Facebook, Youtube and celebrity chef TV and the food network. Anyone with basic skills and desire can get online, look for the hottest trends, find a recipe and get busy. Why reinvent the wheel when you can easily what is popular in the food world and duplicate it?
2. Restaurant type. You can easily take a look at the different types of locations and layouts such as a slice joint, fast casual or sit down waiter service. You can also do some research and see if delivery and take out or even a brew pub-bar will fit in with your plans. Size of location and type of pizza will be a factor in determining if you do sit down, fast casual pizza with an assembly line or just slices.
3. Equipment. It has never been easier to see the different types of equipment being used in successful places than it is now. Currently the hottest trend is hand assembled brick oven style pizza with places like Revolve, Spin Neapolitan and Pie Craft leading the way with Revolving Brick Ovens and gourmet pizza. Pizza stations, walk-in boxes and mixers such as the old reliable Hobart are available new and used for the budget minded along with tons of information on sizes, capacities along with industry comparisons.
4.Finance. Today you can basically call up a company like Lease Corp Of America(LCA) fill out your application online and know virtually the same day if you are qualified for a loan. Those of us who remember having to make an appointment with loan officer, fill out endless paperwork while being scrutinized within an in inch of your life under a microscope will attest that the process is light years from where it has been and tell you how lucky you are.
5.Printing. This may seem like something too little to mention but with today's digital media and the ability to do it all virtually on line there is an amazing amount of time, effort and money saved. In the old days you would have to consult with a printer to make your deal on printing. Then you would have to consult with a graphic designer to do your layout and maybe even a specialized menu designee to help you. This took time, from appointments to initial design to a rough sketch. Then you would have to go back and forth on corrections as you finalized your idea. Once that was done you have to have it proofread and hope you and your proofreader caught all the errors. One error I fondly remember was at the First Goodfella's Brick Oven Pizza on Staten Island. We were all set and made our first huge purchase of several hundred thousand menus for in house, mailing and door to door delivery but we all missed the "Ground Bee" instead of ground beef on the pizza menu. We laughed about it for a long time since we had to print so many menus to save a few dollars. Fortunately you don't have to got through that incredibly time consuming operation today. Not only that but you can do it all from the comfort of your home and with computers, digital design, limited run printing options, cheap online graphic designers and still save time without taking the big risk of large runs.
6.Staff. Hiring and finding employees is easier than ever. You don't have hand a sign in the window and hope someone sees it or spend ridiculous amounts of money on classified ads in the local papers. Graig's list will get you more applicants than you can shake a stick at in most areas.
7.Promotion. Getting yourself known with the internet makes it simple. Social media, websites, blogs and press releases will get you known and open the door to customers. If you do a great job with your product, service and presentation people will talk. Your signage, uniforms and design have a lot to do with this. Yes people will talk so make sure you do it right from the start with all your ducks in a row and a great pizza. You can call the Pizza School of New York if you are not certain of your product.
7. Marketing. Yes this is different from promoting yourself or your place. This is actually offering your product for sale by way of Newspaper, social media, TV, Radio, mailings, door hangers and however else you can get your product in front of a potential customer and tell them to buy it.
8.Location. Location scouting can be done via many outlets now with many realtors competing for business. With the internet, emails and google earth you can even see a place from a street view and decide if it is even worth looking at before wasting your precious time.
9.Training. With video, internet, Youtube, Drop Box etc. there are so many ways to present data to your staff, update recipes and procedures and keep everyone on the same page that even multiple locations become easier to manage when you get to that point.
10.Computerization. Point of sale order taking, inventory, ticket printing and display have made management a great deal more organized. The systems can track best sellers integrate promotional items and sales while even tracking deliveries and scheduling orders of food or reminding you of up coming catering or previously scheduled deliveries.
Of course all these wonderful reasons for it being easier still require the entrepreneur to step into the ring and make his purpose known. My respect and admiration goes to you my friends that make the attempt. I wish you the best of luck. Marc Cosentino