5 key concepts from restaurant designers in Milan

In my latest quest for pizza overseas, I attended the HoReCa (Hotel, Restaurant, Café) Architecture and Marketing Workshop in Milan, the fashion capital of the world. After three days of lectures from architects, designers and lighting experts, I came back with a new perspective on how to more adeptly use commercial space to get the sale. Here are the highlights from what I learned there.

  1. there is no ‘pretty’ or ‘ugly’

    By far the most recurring theme of the workshop was viability first. “In restaurant design we don’t speak about what’s pretty or ugly because beauty is subjective. The question we must ask is, does it work or doesn’t it?” says Nicola Ticozzi, Head Coordinator at HoReCa Workshop – Architecture & Marketing.

    Designing a restaurant, bar, or café requires the appropriate layout for its proper function.  For example, a lounge bar is centered around the art of cocktail making (and drinking) so the bar is placed in the center. In a nightclub (discoteca), the primary focus is on the dance floor so it is placed in the center and couches face outward towards it. (Slide courtesy of Andrea Langhi)

    When choosing restaurant design elements, rather than asking yourself “What would look nice?” think about “What do I want the customer to experience?” For example, if you own a lounge, you might consider comfortable chairs that invite guests to linger, whereas a fast casual restaurant that benefits from fast turnover would do better with chairs that aren’t too comfortable. Each element, such as color, light, furniture and decorative objects, must be considered from a functionality standpoint before aesthetics.

  2. You must tell a story with your design

    People remember stories, and, most of all, they remember stories that they understand. Andrea Langhi, architect behind the highly successful Italian pizza chain Pizzikotto, characterizes a good design as one that is understandable and translatable. In his design of Pizzikotto, he sought elements that are simple, striking and different to set them apart from other Italian pizza chains. Langhi points to the lamps made from plastic water coolers as unattractive but successful in reflecting the brand’s values, particularly its commitment to sustainability.

    Andrea Langhi used non-traditional design to reflect a brand of innovation
  3. The Bathroom really doesn’t get enough attention

    Nisi Magnoni, an architect and HoReCa Workshop teacher, takes a certain pride in building bathrooms because, frankly, they have a big impact on your experience at a restaurant. “If you have a large, beautiful restaurant but then only one bathroom and people have to wait in line, they’re not going to have a positive experience,” says Magnoni. In his design, he doesn’t overlook this oft-neglected yet essential place for your customers.

    At first glance these bathrooms are transparent. But close the lock and microparticles turn the glass translucent.
  4. Chiaroscuro is back!

    Remember the light technique DaVinci (and his contemporaries) were so famous for? Chiaroscuro, which means “light dark,” is the practice of drawing the viewers’ attention to a specific area of a painting by brightening some areas and darkening others. According to bio-architect and inventor Massimo Duroni, “The human eye physically cannot take in too much information at once. In places with uniform, diffused light, our eyes are not drawn to observe anything in particular.” The use of chiaroscuro lighting to create a contrast allows you to direct the attention of the customer to whatever it is you want to sell more of.

    Massimo Duroni designed Liquid Bar, which draws customers’ attention to the bar using chiaroscuro lighting. The lamps above the bar alternate through a range of colors throughout the evening to continuously alter the customers’ perception.
  5. Beware of Excitement “sickness”

    Remember that the concept must be easily understandable and that too many elements are difficult to process. Nisi Magnoni describes the common “illness” of a restaurant entrepreneur who has had success and gets particularly excited about including all of his favorite elements in one restaurant. “Over-enthusiasm can happen to anyone. Don’t let it happen to you!” warns Magnoni.

    Magnoni referenced this restaurant (presumably in Milan) as an example of one that has too many design elements, to the point that it doesn’t communicate a clear concept/brand.

    So when choosing a layout, remember to keep in mind the demands and needs of your target audience, the experience you want them to have when they get there, and the understandability of the overall concept to perpetuate good experiences for you, your staff and your customers.

    This information was presented at the HoReCa Workshop in downtown Milan. The workshop is a collaboration of the Milano Business School, Il Politecnico School of Architecture and some key companies specializing in interior design materials.

    This HoReCa Workshop also organizes events in Russian, Portuguese and Spanish, and heads up a prestigious design competition for pizzerias and bakeries. Their international contest for planning a successful pizzeria centers on design, concept, marketing and architecture in one. It is done in collaboration with 5 Stagioni and offers up to 7,500 euros in prizes.  For more information visit http://www.concorsole5stagioni.it.

5 Italian cooking tips from the Barilla Academy

The Barilla Academy doesn’t teach recipes; they teach Italian food culture and gastronomy.  Their mission is to empower people to choose the right ingredients and cook delicious meals with their families, all while promoting a global brand and being an authority on nutrition.  On the U.S. Pizza Team’s visit to Parma, we visited The Barilla Academy and came back inspired.  Here are 5 highlight tips from the Italian kitchen.

  1. Safe and Authentic TiramisU

    Chef at Barilla Academy Marcello Zaccaria strays from the official tiramisu recipe and incorporates hot simple syrup into the raw eggs.  Simple syrup is made by boiling sugar with water and is most often used in bars as an ingredient for cocktails since the sugar is already dissolved.  “At the Barilla plant we pasteurize our sauce and pesto in a sort of oven, but you can’t do that with eggs or they’ll cook.  If you add hot boiled sugar to the raw eggs it also has a pasteurizing effect to make it safer to eat,” says Zaccaria.

    Avoid raw eggs in italian desserts
    Let your raw eggs get fluffy in the mixer before slowly adding hot simple syrup
  2. Softer Focaccia

    Standard Italian focaccia crisps up in a bakery pan, but in the region of Puglia, potatoes are added to the dough to keep it soft after baking.  Potatoes are peeled, boiled and mashed before being incorporated into the dough during initial mixing.  It may be acclaimed in the region of Puglia, but many of the U.S. Pizza Team members found this bread too soft, like focaccia that needed more time in the oven.

  3. bitter chocolate bread with seafood

    Pure, sugarless cocoa powder can be added to a bread recipe for a distinct color and aroma.  However the taste of chocolate bread varies little from that of normal bread.  Chef Zaccaria suggests eating chocolate bread with salmon, tuna, or any other type of seafood.

    Chef Tomasso Moroni points to a correctly executed chocolate bread with the signature cornucopia shape with slits in the center to allow the roll to open during baking.
  4. perfectly charred piadina

    If you haven’t made a piadina before, it’s not too different from making a tortilla or a crêpe.  Piadinas are Italian flatbreads used for making wraps or sandwiches.  Chef Zaccaria advised us not to use any oil when baking a piadina in a pan to get the same “rustic char” of the classic Italian food.

    Don't use oil when cooking a piadina
    USPT member Massimo flips a piadina in the pan
  5. how to make a cornucopia

    The ancient Greek symbol for plenty, the cornucopia is still being used in bread imagery today.  It’s commonplace in the Parma region to find bread rolls with the iconic swirling shape of a cornucopia.  These dinner rolls are very soft on the inside and extremely hard on the inside, served without butter or oil!  Chef Tomasso Moroni demonstrates how to roll out and roll up a cornucopia-shaped bread roll.

5 robots taking foodservice jobs today

Across the world of foodservice, robots are getting hired for the jobs us pathetic humans used to do.

What’s the driving force behind it?  Price, novelty, oh and fewer mistakes.  To err is human after all.  Here are five jobs that robots are sneaking their wheelie feet in the door with and the countries that are hosting them.

1. Sweden: Kebab Slicing Robot

This bad boy was on display at the FastFood & Café Expo in Stockholm.  It makes the perfect cut of shoarma meat so your employees don’t have to!


    2. France: Ordering Kiosk

    France, which boasts some of the best labor rights in the world, is also the country which has the most ordering kiosks.  In fast food restaurants, touchscreen automated kiosks are commonplace.  A representative at SoftCaisse explained that ‘hiring’ a kiosk is about 3 times more cost effective than hiring a human.  Plus, you don’t have to put up with their whining or worry about them showing up on time!

    parizza, softcaisse, pmq

    3. Italy: 24/7 Automated Pizzaiolo

    Many of the pizza vending machines on the market today finish baking a par-baked or even fully prepared fresh pizza.   But Let’s Pizza lets you have the full experience of watching a pizzaiolo through a pizza shop window, except it’s a robot doing the job.  This pizza only takes 2.5 minutes to be mixed, topped and baked which begs the question, why would you use one of these if you’re in Italy?

    4. Australia: Robot Pizza Delivery

    Now launched at Domino’s in Germany and the Netherlands, Domino’s delivery robot DRU (Domino’s Robotic Unit) is taking to the sidewalks.  The droid was first developed with the help of an Australian company using “military technology” and has proven to be less dangerous, less regulation bound and much cuter than delivery drones.

  2. 5. San Francisco: Sandwich making machine

    Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can be SO complicated.  Now with the Bistrobot, located in San Franciso’s Bernal Heights district, you can have a machine make one for you.  It looks like the company hasn’t advanced with more sandwich building technology since 2015 or maybe they’re just keeping their next product… under wraps.


Your Symbiotic Relationship with Customers

Control. To call one’s own shots. To be the master of your own destiny. That’s part of the American Dream; part of the entrepreneurial dream.  

Every entrepreneur has worked for bosses somewhere along the way that they didn’t see eye-to-eye with. You may have had your own ideas about how things should be run.  And one day you knew you’d eventually be the head honcho.  This is a theme in an old Roy Oribson song, “Workin For The Man.”

Oh Well I’m pickin em up, and I’m layin em down
I believe he’s gonna work me right into the ground
I pull to the left, heave to the right. I wanna kill the man but it wouldn’t be right
Cause I’m working for the man, working for the man
So I slave all day without much pay, cause I’m just bidin’ my time
Cause the company and the daughter, you see, they’re both gonna be all mine
Yeah, I’m gonna be the man, gonna be the man.

But will you REALLY control your own destiny, even when you become “The Man”? What IS control? In The Matrix Reloaded, Councillor Hamman poses the question to Neo who insists the machines in Zion are under their control:

Councillor Harmann: Down here, sometimes I think about all those people still plugged into the Matrix and when I look at these machines I… I can’t help thinking that in a way… we are plugged into them.   

Neo: But we control these machines; they don’t control us.  

Councillor Harmann: Of course not. How could they? The idea is pure nonsense. But… it does make one wonder… just… what is control?  

Neo: If we wanted, we could shut these machines down.  

Councillor Harmann: That’s it. You hit it. That’s control, isn’t it? If we wanted we could smash them to bits. Although, if we did, we’d have to consider what would happen to our lights, our heat, our air…  

Sure, you might have developed five of the most perfect pizza recipes of all time….but what if the general public won’t buy them at a price that generates a profit point? Can you afford to keep them on the menu? Do you call the shots, or does the consumer? The answer lies somewhere in the middle.

Just as the machines in the Matrix can’t survive without humans who also can’t survive without machines, a boss is in a symbiotic relationship with her/his customers.

Consumers respond to a number of factors. Taste, perceived quality, price point, service, atmosphere and experience, and sometimes even human relationships. These factors also exist in a symbiotic balance.
Finding the sweet spot requires tweaking and fine-tuning.  It also requires information from your customers.

Now that I’ve got you thinking about symbiotic relationships and communication, maybe it’s time to take stock of yours. You may be doing enough communicating on your end, but how do you improve your listening skills when it comes to the consumer?

Fortunately, in the information age, it’s never been easier. Your consumers live on their smartphones and in their social media spheres. Go where they live! I’m going to leave you with this tip today: Twitter polls.  If you’re not on Twitter – get on it. But if you are, and have a lot of followers, you can take advantage of surveying specific questions with a twitter poll.

You can make a poll about anything you want. Whether people like a particular dish, how they feel about items you’re thinking about adding to a menu, what to name a new product, what area you should expand to, even who they think is going to win the big game if you just want to have fun creating interaction with a poll.

To learn how to set up a Twitter poll, here’s Twitter’s article explaining it: https://support.twitter.com/articles/20174524

Hope I’ve given you some food for thought. Until next time, take the red pill.

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3 Reasons Why Social Media Marketing Isn’t Working for You (and How to Change That)

By Bruce Irving
So you say social media just doesn’t work for you? You’ve given it the old college try and decided it was a waste of time? Don’t throw in the towel just yet. Social media is a new marketing tool, and you simply may not know how to use it correctly at this point. Here are three reasons it might not be working for you—and what you can do about it.

1. You don’t have a strategy. This is the most important reason. If you have a strategy and a plan of action and you stick to it consistently, it will work for you. Trust me. But if you’re just posting stuff and hoping for the best, you will not get the results you’re looking for. All too often I see restaurateurs post something on Facebook once, then three or four days later, they post something else; two weeks go by, and they’ll post again, and then a full month goes by before the next post. Then they give up and say, “Well, Facebook doesn’t work for me!”

To develop a strategy, you must first spend time on the platform—whether it’s Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat—and learn how it works. Before you try to market with, say, Instagram, spend some time being a user of Instagram. The more you use it—and study how other successful restaurateurs are using it—the better you’ll understand it, and soon you can develop the strategy you need to get results.

2. You’re posting the same content on every social network at the same time. You have your Instagram post also appear on Facebook, and the same Facebook post shows up on Twitter, etc. You think this is easier for you because you just hit one button and your post gets distributed across the various social networks. But, in reality, you’re just wasting time. That’s not how you build a community on these individual platforms. Remember that each social network has its own type of user, with his or her own reasons for being there. Younger people use Snapchat, while an older demographic uses Facebook. The “in-betweeners” use a little bit of Instagram and a little bit of Snapchat; they also have Facebook accounts, but they’re not heavy users.

The important thing to remember is that every platform is different, with unique features all its own. Instagram, for example, is all about really good photographs—perfect for showing off your pizzas and appetizers—and now, with the addition of the Stories feature (borrowed from Snapchat), you can also show behind-the-scenes glimpses of your restaurant. But you wouldn’t get as goofy as you would get on Snapchat, which is a place to let your hair down a little bit. Facebook, meanwhile, is great for advertising your restaurant and building your brand.

It’s a lot to learn, I know, so if you’re busy—and we all are—start with just one platform and learn how to use it properly. Once you get the hang of it and you’re getting good results, move on to the next platform. Don’t start out trying to learn all four at the same time because you will get overwhelmed, and it definitely won’t work for you. (Oh, and by the way, stop trying to sell something with every post. It’s called social media for a reason—it’s about engagement and building community. The best way to do that is through asking questions, responding to your fans’ questions, telling people who you are and how your business works. It’s not always about this or that special offer.)

3. You just don’t believe in social media. Maybe you’re old. Hey, that’s OK. We all get old. I’m getting old, too. Maybe you’re thinking, “Look, I’ve built my business already—I don’t need social media. My customers aren’t using it.” Let me tell you something: They are using it. Facebook alone has 1.89 billion monthly users as of January 2017. Your customers are definitely using social media. Just because you’re not a user doesn’t mean your customers aren’t using it.

You will have to take a leap of faith and give it your best effort. Believe in it, be patient and give it some time to work. Start with one platform, learn how it works, come up with a strategy and give it your all for the next six to nine months. Pay attention to what other accounts are doing that makes the needle move and learn from them. Start by posting three days a week—say, a Monday, a Thursday and a Sunday. Follow a schedule and post consistently. And don’t just post specials and “sell” messages—interact with your followers, learn about them and let them learn about you. At the end of that nine-month period, step back and look at your results. I can almost guarantee a positive outcome!

Bruce Irving is the marketing visionary behind SmartPizzaMarketing.com and host of the weekly Smart Pizza Marketing podcast. On his podcasts, he interviews the leading minds of the pizza restaurant industry. Irving, a top marketing consultant and former pizzeria owner, also hosts PizzaTV’s Marketing Insights livestream program, which streams at 8 p.m. (ET) every Tuesday on Facebook. You can listen to his Smart Pizza Marketing podcast at www.smartpizzamarketing.com. In addition, Irving speaks at conferences about how to better use social media in your restaurant or small business.

San Francisco’s Go-To Place for New Jersey-Style Pizza and Cuisine

A Taylor Pork Roll Pizza does exist!

New Jerseyans are filled with pride. Prideful of our Jersey roots. Prideful of not having to pump our own gas. Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi. Having the best damn bagels. And, of course, PIZZA.If you’re a Garden State transplant in the Bay Area, searching for pizza that reminds you of home can be quite challenging. So if you’ve been searching long and hard, look no further. Located in the heart of the bustling SOMA district of San Francisco lies a hidden Jersey gem. With a brick wall on one side of the bar, a graffiti-styled mural on the other side and a lengthy American flag draping in the front, the interior boasts an urban yet cozy vibe in Jersey.
Mitchell and Steven Rosenthal | Photo courtesy Jersey SF
The Trenton Tomato Pie

It’s a low-key Monday afternoon during happy hour. ESPN is playing on the televisions, and the cooks are preparing for the after-work rush. I glance through the menu and when I read “Trenton Tomato Pie,” I immediately feel at home. The bartender pours me a beer. “A lot of people from Jersey come here,” he says, with a grin on his face. “You know how I know? They tell me within the first five minutes of meeting me.” (See what I mean? Prideful.)Steven and Mitchell Rosenthal, brothers and owners of Jersey, are no strangers to the culinary world. With an extensive resume as cooks in various restaurants, the brothers permanently migrated to San Francisco in 1994 to work as executive chefs at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant, Postrio. This was the stepping stone in the Rosenthal brothers’ journey to creating their own restaurant empire.

In total, the brothers are partners in four restaurants and two coffee shops. While the menus at their first three restaurants—Anchor & Hope, Town Hall and Salt House—range from “East Coast meets West Coast fish house” to southern and new American, they wanted to open a place that represented their Jersey roots. With inspiration from their hometown pizzeria, Ferraro’s Pizza Parlor in Edison, N.J., their travels to Italy and experience as chefs on the West Coast, Jersey was born in 2015.


Bianca Pie

“Jersey is close to our hearts,” said Steven Rosenthal. “From the music to our food, everything about this place represents who we are as people.”The pizzas in the menu are separated by “Jersey style” and “California style.” The dough’s fermentation process is a bit longer than usual, and the crust on the pizza has a nice crunch to it. The Rosenthal brothers made sure to include menu items that would make any homesick New Jerseyan feel at peace. Key menu items include the meatballs, Trenton Tomato Pie and Taylor Pork Roll pie. So if anyone in the Bay Area is missing the classic Taylor ham/pork roll, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich, they can have it in pizza form at Jersey.

Jersey is located at 145 Second St., San Francisco, CA 94105.
Must try: Trenton Tomato Pie, Bianca Pie, Taylor Pork Roll Pie


Lights, Camera…..Wait, Let’s Re-Cast The Lead!

“You were expecting someone else?” –
James Bond
You may have found yourself here at Pizza Perspective by way
of our editor-in-chief’s column in the March issue of PMQ Pizza Magazine.
Although he cited my colleague Andy Knef as the author of this blog, Mr. Knef
informed us mere days after the issue went to print that he’d gotten a great
offer in teaching that it would be almost criminal of him to pass up. And so
Andy left in pursuit of new opportunities.
But have no fear, the Pizza Perspective blog will continue
under the penmanship of Yours Truly.
me to re-introduce myself.” – Jay Z

It’s actually fortuitous timing that I take
over this blog during the March issue. The cover story is “Lights! Camera!
Pizza!” A feature on the importance of video content in marketing. For the
past six years, I’ve served PMQ and the pizza world as the Senior Media
Producer. That’s a vague title, because I wear many hats here. But the heavy
lifting in my responsibilities is video production.
If you’ve taken even a cursory look at the modern world,
you’ve probably noticed how often people check their phones (I’ve even watched
Cleveland Indians playoff games and pro-wrestling pay-per-views on mine.)
There’s a slew of social media apps, and every single one of them utilizes
video (some more than others.) From subways in Shanghai 

that project ghostly, holographic video ads onto the tunnel
walls, to the sensory overload of Times Square, to custom ad screens on gas
pumps all across Middle America – there is nowhere you can turn to avoid seeing
moving images. It’s kind of the reason I have a job.

“Video killed the radio star.” – The Buggles  

With video so prevalent, you can’t afford to be left behind when it comes to
promoting your products and brands with video. Fortunately, there are a LOT of
different ways to use video and no single “right way.” Even if all you’ve got
is an outdated iPhone, there’s a marketing avenue for you. Our March 2017 issue
will help you learn how to get in the game of video. 

But just because I’ve taken over Pizza Perspective in March
doesn’t mean it will become a blog about video. Pizza Perspective will continue
to cover a wide variety of topics, subjects, ideas and cultural

In my experiences with PMQ and Pizza TV, I’ve
trekked across this continent chasing the American Dream, delved into the
cradle of pizza in Napoli, and explored the next frontier of pizza in Asia. If
I’ve learned one thing in the process, it’s what noted poet Maya Angelou wrote
so eloquently: “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.”
 I hope, with this blog, to share new perspectives with you, that you will
in turn share your unique perspectives with me, and together we’ll share our
perspectives with the readers. That’s a win-win-win.

The 5 Key Traits Shared by All Successful Pizzeria Operators

In my consulting business, I’ve talked to and interviewed hundreds of highly successful restaurateurs. As a former pizzeria operator myself, I’ve been especially struck by the similarities in the stories of entrepreneurs who’ve taken their pizzerias to the next level. That could mean multiple stores with hundreds of employees, or it could mean one store and a satisfying lifestyle. Happiness and success are subjective measures, but I have found five key characteristics, time after time, that are shared by thriving restaurant operators.

1. They have a passion for what they do. I didn’t say they have a passion for making money. Most will tell you they didn’t start out with a plan to make millions, but to practice a craft they love. Whether it’s making a great pizza or managing a restaurant that customers love to visit, these achievers are passionate about the daily grind of running a restaurant. You can see that passion in the amount of time they spend talking to other operators about their business. You’ll see them at industry trade shows, find them online interacting with colleagues on web forums, and you’ll hear them constantly interacting with customers and staff to get feedback and improve their processes.

The best pizzeria owners talk to their fellow operators on a daily basis even if there is great competition out there. They might be solo entrepreneurs, but they’re never introverts. Successful operators aren’t afraid to make a call or send emails asking the pros they respect for help or posing a question. When I find folks in the restaurant business who are reluctant to reach out for help or to solicit ideas on doing something different, they’ll typically say something like, ‘That idea will never work here because our customers are different.’ Andy my reply is: ‘How do you know unless you try?’

2. They have a CAN-DO mentality. They don’t attack a challenge with a “that’s impossible” mindset. To them, everything is “figure-outable,” which should be a word if it’s not one. These dynamic leaders know their business is a marathon, not a sprint. They’re not the people who complain when I tell them it will take six months to turn their revenue around through social media marketing. “Why so long?” such folks ask, because they haven’t committed to the long haul. Nothing happens overnight. At the same time, operators who seem to have enjoyed rapid success achieve that level only through putting in the 17-, 18- and 19-hour days building systems that work and taking responsibility for their mistakes. And yes, you’re not improving if you’re not making mistakes.

Successful restaurateurs don’t embrace the “poor me” mindset of blaming setbacks on employees or bashing competitors or degrading anyone else’s work. They concentrate on creating the best possible product they can and they don’t sweat the small stuff. When an employee doesn’t show up for work, it doesn’t derail their day. When a product is missing or an employee calls in sick, it isn’t the end of the world. These dynamic role models know where the ultimate responsibility lies. They take total control of the decisions in their life.

3. They embrace technology. Whether it’s new kitchen and oven tools, online ordering, point-of-service integration or social media marketing, successful operators simply can’t afford to say, “We do things this way because that’s the way we’ve always done them.” Just because you built a temporary business surge in 2015 with a direct mail campaign doesn’t mean that same approach will work in 2017. It’s imperative that you keep your eyes on the technology trends that are dramatically changing the modern marketplace. Read resources like PMQ Pizza Magazine, go to online forums like PMQ’s Think Tank, listen to the latest podcasts about technologies that are proving effective around the world. Don’t be afraid to make a change; after all, you can always change back if you need to.

The operators who are setting the trends in today’s restaurant and pizzeria business use social media to test out changes before they’re even fully implemented. Through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, you can go directly to your customer base, where they live, and transparently get their input on menu changes, specials and promotions, and operational changes. Here’s the reality: My 9-year-old daughter found a phone book on my porch the other day and asked me what it was. When I replied, “It’s for looking up phone numbers,” she responded, “Isn’t that what Google is for?” We live in a digital age, and that’s where our customers reside. If you’re not using Facebook advertising—and by that I mean paying to boost your Facebook posts—in 2017, you’re missing a huge opportunity to advertise your business and stay competitive in today’s online environment.

4. They practice teambuilding. The most common question I receive is, “How do I find good employees?” It’s another mindset issue. I always respond, “Do you have any good employees now?” Everyone always cites a couple of great ones—and I add, “Do the same thing.” Typically, it’s a matter of always being on the lookout. When you’re out and about, keep your eyes open for service professionals who impress you. Even if you don’t need help at that moment, don’t be afraid to give that impressive performer your card and invite them to be part of your team.

When you do hire, hire for attitude and train for skills. Don’t fall into the trap of depending on that tired application that lists skills and hiring people solely because they can do the things you already know how to do. Bottom line: You can always train someone to cook a pizza, pour a drink or wait on customers. You can’t train great attitude, work ethic and personal responsibility. Smart operators grow by building great teams, and knowing what they don’t know. Maybe your passion is making delicious pizza, maybe it’s running the dining room. Successful bosses do what they do best and look for great people with the skills to fill out the team. Don’t enjoy bookkeeping? Find a trustworthy person or accounting firm. Not an instinctive chef? Hire a master cook to put your menu over the top. Intimidated by modern social media marketing? Hire a plugged in individual or team to reach your digitally dependent customer base. And when it’s appropriate to fire an employee who is not living up to expectations, do it quickly. Successful operators don’t delay that decision because they’ll be temporarily shorthanded. They understand that no short-term fix is worth allowing bad employees to represent their business to customers.

5. They express gratitude. Noted marketing author Gary Vaynerchuck explains that the statistical likelihood of human existence on this planet is a one-in-a-trillion phenomenon. We could have been born a bug or a tree. Entrepreneurs who excel appreciate that point instinctively and take every available chance to say thanks. They appreciate every day—the good and the bad. Every day is another chance to say thank you to an employee for a job well done. Or to thank a loyal customer or someone experiencing your pizzeria for the first time. Remember, customers are distracted and have more options today than ever before. Successful operators know they must constantly work to improve, appreciate the accomplishments AND mistakes each new day brings, learn from them, and treat their employees like a family. That’s the key to making customers and staff happy and nurturing a growing, prosperous restaurant or pizzeria.

3 Strategies to Double Your Instagram Following Over the Next Six Months

Bruce Irving
In the last few
months, Instagram has made tremendous changes that can help you use this red-hot
social media tool to grow your pizzeria. By copying some fun features from the
popular Snapchat app, Facebook-owned Instagram is now a great place to build your
brand and get your business some future exposure.
That’s why I want to share three strategies that will take your Instagram
account to the next level. They’re easy to execute, although potentially
time-consuming. But the way I look at it, you have two equally valuable
personal assets to invest—time or money. If you’d rather invest the money to
pay someone to carry out these steps, go for it! If you’d rather invest a
little time to learn for yourself and you implement these three Instagram
strategies, I can say confidently that your Instagram account will explode!
1. Use Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories, like Snapchat, gives you the option of posting temporary videos or photos that,
collectively, tell a story. This new feature is available as an app for your
iPhone or Android, and it allows you to get really creative with overlays,
emojis or stickers with your visual images. The feature works on a 24-hour
cycle, so whatever content you create on your phone in that period will appear
sequentially on Instagram Stories.Here’s a tip: When you post, add your little picture icon, and the content will
be thrown to the top of the Instagram Stories feed. The best way to make
Instagram Stories work for you is to add a video or photo every 2-3 hours. That
sounds like a lot of posting, but if you make your first post at 11 a.m. when you
open the shop, and add two or three by late afternoon, you’ll always be at the
top of the Instagram Stories feed. The great thing about this new Instagram
product is your photos and videos don’t have to be on the ultra-high technical
quality level as before. Quality still applies, but this app allows you to be
creative and even goofy with your content to tell an engaging story. Stuff that
you wouldn’t have added to your Instagram page is now fair game. Mix it up!
Above all, be creative and monitor who is viewing your content and engage with

2. Make sure you use
hashtags on every Instagram Stories post. 

You can use up to 30 hashtags per
post. If you’re interested in an insider’s tip on how to blow past that hashtag
number to 40-50, check out the latest episode of Pizza Marketing Insights.
Personally, I don’t recommend overloading with that many hashtags because your
Instagram Story gallery will begin to look “spammy.”So why hashtags on every post? We live in a social media world, and the people
you want to reach are searching those hashtags and live in that environment. My
advice to you is to hop on the hashtag bandwagon. Attach at least 10-20
hashtags to your Instagram Stories posts. Which ones? Research the hashtags
that are trending—the most popular ones in your area. Use the ones that are
relevant to your market and that will help you the most to build exposure.

3. Build
relationships with social media influencers.

Monitoring popular hashtags is
great, but you also need to build relationships with those same local social
media influencers. The whole point of social media marketing is to get
attention in whatever platform you’re using. What local influencers have in
abundance is people’s attention. Think about offering a local influencer—for
our purposes that means anyone with a ton of social media followers—20 bucks to
mention your pizzeria on one of her social media pages. Or work free pizza into
a trade for social media promotion. Nobody turns down free pizza! This approach
works especially well with a food blogger who needs a chance to sample food to
do his job. Since research shows that photos and videos move consumers the
most, ask that influencer to post a picture or video of your shop on her
Instagram page.


If you’re going to pay or trade for exposure on an influencer’s
pages, make sure they follow the criteria—tagging you, adding you into the post
description or referencing you in the post text—so that it appears that the
local influencer is promoting your business. The goal is for all of your
followers to see the post, but the positive impression is coming from an
independent source.Collaborating with local influencers can be a great, cheap way to reach and
engage your local audience. But you have to do the legwork. Take the time and
do the research to build a relationship with that local influencer before you make
the “ask” for social media exposure. Find them, interact, follow their social
media pages and make comments. After you’ve done that a few weeks, spring the
offer. As marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuck describes the process: Jab, jab,
jab—right  hook. I guarantee if you
execute these three strategies over the next 3-6 months, you will double your
Instagram followers.

Six Ways to Celebrate National Pizza Day

Happy National Pizza Day! Here are some fun ways to celebrate the best day of the year!

National Pizza Day falls on February 9. Yes, you can celebrate by simply having a slice of pizza, but here are six suggestions to make the most of this special day:

1) Have a Pizza Party

Since National Pizza Day falls on a Thursday, chances are you may be stuck at the office. Whether that’s the case or not, get all of your friends or coworkers together and order a variety of pies for everyone to try. 

2) Go On a Pizza Crawl

Ever heard of a pizza crawl? It’s exactly what you’re thinking: a bar crawl but for pizzas. Sign up for an organized tour in your nearest city or simply plan a route of pizzerias in the area. Grab a friend, and see who can eat the most pizza!

3) Wear Pizza Clothing

Can’t get your hands on pizza on this special day? No problem. You can still celebrate by dressing the part. There are pizza onesies, shirts, socks, hats, and virtually any piece of clothing that is pizza-themed. Check out these on Etsy.

4) Make a Homemade Pizza

Sometimes nothing is more comforting than a homemade meal. To make a pizza, you can purchase the dough pre-made or make it from scratch. Gather your favorite ingredients and toppings, throw it all together and put it in the oven. Here’s a recipe on how to make a simple yet delicious pizza at home.

5) Surprise a Friend with a Pie

Random acts of kindness? More like random acts of pizza. People love surprises no matter what shape or form it comes in. Whether you order a pizza to your significant other’s office or to your grandmother’s nursing home, it is guaranteed to put a smile on their face.

6) Come Up with a Pizza Bucket List

Have you been dying to check out the new pizzeria that opened in town? Or try out a gluten-free or vegan pizza? Whether it’s wanting to consume different styles of pizza or traveling all over the world for the best slice, grab a piece of paper and start writing down your pizza to-do list.