Starting a Pizza Place? 10 Tips for success.

BRICK OVENS PIZZA    When you are starting a pizza place there are many things you need to know and consider but this basic list will get you in the direction to start off on the right foot. A firm idea of where you are heading can make all the difference between success and failure. When you open your doors your customer should know who you are providing and get a clear idea of your brand.

 1. What is the kind or type of pizza are you going to make? Sounds too obvious but many people jump in without a clear idea of the type of pizza they are going sell. What do I mean by this? Is it NY Style? Deep dish? Square? Brick Oven? Gourmet? Thin crust? Thick Crust? How about what size? Individual small pies or large family style? How many ounce dough balls will you be using?
 Some people may argue that this can figure out as you go or once you start but first impressions are long lasting and you only get one chance to make that first impression. The main reason to know your type of pie and how to make pizza is that it will determine most of your design and equipment choices and layout for production. Example-a fast casual pizza place where the customers walk up to counter and choose their toppings and then watch the individual size pizza hand assembled and placed in a revolving brick oven will have a different type of pie than a mom and pop place making a typical 16″ NY Style pie cooked in a regular deck oven.

2. What is your concept about? Is it like Blaze Fast Casual or Full service, pizza bar? The type of restaurant you envision will determine the size requirements and its physical layout. Example-a typical slice place with a small seating area and counter space for about 15 customers will require a much smaller space than a full-service gourmet pizza place with table service, a full menu, and bar. A fast casual place can work in 1700 square ft. The idea is to utilize space correctly so you do not pay for extra real estate.

 3. In what location or area are going to put your concept?
If your doing a small takeout and delivery place you may not need a prime location in high dollar strip mall or stand-alone building but you may want to be located near that college campus with thousands of dorms or apartments nearby and lots of families. If you’re doing a fast casual concept you will need to have a high volume traffic area  with lots of foot traffic and local business workers in an area with a  proven need for fast service.
4. Do you know how to arrange and layout space for best utilization? Seems simple but bad flow lines from order to service and delivery or dine in can make your place a production nightmare. If you’re in doubt consult an expert designer check references jobs done. If they are hesitant to give you to them find someone else.  or minimally study the successful places in your area or concepts you like that are successful and you think would work with your demographic.
5. Do you have enough capital to last a few months? Did you take into consideration the basics of rent, insurance, labor, promotion. marketing, equipment, inventory, attorneys, signage, contractors, city/town fees, permits, training. Many people go into a new venture without the capital required. Be sure you get a budget a detailed financial one. Ask others in the field to review it. Being undercapitalized is one thing you don’t want to be.

6.Equipment needs? Do you know what you need for your concept? For instance, what type and how big of a mixer do you need? What type of oven and how much space does it require-will it be part of the concept design or hidden? How big of a walk in box do you need? How many tables and chairs? What about small wares? Get a detailed list together and shop it around for budget planning.    Will it be new or used equipment? Is it better to lease? The main consideration here is initial outlay and cash flow versus the tax savings and continued cost of a lease payment  on a monthly basis.

8. Is labor available in your market? How many staff do you need to open ? You must hire double that amount because many won’t show up and many will not work out. How extensive is the training? Is there a management team in place? Bookkeeping? Cleaning? Maintenance? Think it through and be ready!

 9. Is there a Marketing  plan and budget? How are you going to get your place known? Who will you invite to your opening? What local groups and activities will you support? Are you affiliated with the local school, church, sports team? Handouts, flyers, door hangers,  menus, inserts, val-pak, local newspaper, tv( expensive) radio and any other place you think your customers are. You have to offer them your product and tell them what it is, where they can get it and how much it costs. This is an expense and it is part of doing business unless you are in the home run of all locations with enough customers flooding in daily  .
10, Be diligent do your home work  when Starting a Pizza Place!
These tips are designed to get you looking and help avoid some pitfalls . Future articles will take each up in more detail and mention a few others like social media, pizza contests, donations, and policies. Good luck and happy pizza!
by Marc Cosentino Co-founder of Goodfella’s Brick Oven Pizza

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