PMQ Pizza Magazine reported that the United States saw an estimated $45.1 billion in pizza sales in 2018 — no wonder more and more people are jumping at the opportunity to open a pizza shop of their own.
Follow these steps and learn what you need to know about opening a pizzeria.
Identifying Your Pizza Brand and Style
In today’s world, pizza lovers have a plethora of options to choose from in their local neighborhood. A pizzeria, whether a chain restaurant or independent owner, can be found on almost every block or shopping center. Pizza is tasty, it comes in a variety of options, it’s a quick meal, and it can be healthy — thanks to new trends like cauliflower crust.
As a pizzaprenuer, you have to decide where you fit into the mold — or where you don’t. If you’re opening a pizzeria, you first need to identify the type of pizza you’re going to serve and let that lead into defining your brand. Will your menu have more traditional eats where tomatoes are the main ingredient in every dish or are you redefining pizza with more innovative foods?
The key to having your pizza shop stand out from the rest is crafting delicious, one of a kind pizza recipes. Be daring and innovative with pizza toppings, design, and presentation.
Crafting your menu can be the catalyst for identifying what type of pizza restaurant you should open. It can also indicate what equipment you’ll need, target customer base, staff you’ll need to hire, and the amount of start-up money necessary to open for business.
Determining what kind of service you’ll offer at your pizzeria is essential for developing a business concept, drafting a business plan, and obtaining start-up funding.
Some of the most common pizza shop styles are:
One of the most common forms for pizza shops is delivery. They offer patrons convenience and usually have lower startup costs than sit-down establishments. However, this type of restaurant presents some concern for the safety of delivery drivers and often requires customers to pay an additional service or delivery fee.
Delivery and carryout go hand in hand. Pizza shops that offer minimal seating (no more than half a dozen tables) require less space than sit-down restaurants, but still, offer customers the convenience of a quick meal.
Often a more expensive investment, sit-down pizzerias allow you to create a great customer experience for those that have a little more time to dine.
Your pizza shop’s brand is reliant on the style you choose. Developing a brand gives your pizzeria a personality. For example, your brand could be a traditional pizza parlor with dollar slices or an Italian family-style eatery. Besides the menu, your brand is what will motivate customers to dine with you.
Writing a Business Plan
Once you’ve defined your pizzeria menu, style, and brand, you’re ready to begin drafting a business plan. A business plan is a document that allows you to manage your pizza shops objectives and strategies.
A good business plan will provide you with a base to implement business strategies, stay organized, and obtain investors.
A thorough business plan will include the following sections:
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Legal formation
- Start-up money and funding
- Description of products and Services
- Market strategy and positioning
- Market analysis
- Product and service sourcing
Choosing the Right Location
As you’re developing your business plan, you will want to include how you will go about finding the best location for your pizzeria. Within the start-up money and funding section, briefly explain the area where the restaurant will be and how that will influence business operations such as rental budget, target customer base, and market analysis.
Finding a storefront can be a tedious task for a new owner. Many elements need to be thought through to ensure your business will reach its highest potential. Finding a realtor that specializes in commercial property can make finding a location much more manageable. A realtor can find places that fit your price range in neighborhoods with the clientele you’re targeting.
Deciding on a location for your pizza restaurant goes back to your brand and style of the pizzeria. For example, if you decided on a takeout or delivery style restaurant with limited seating, you may want to find a location in an urban environment that gets a lot of foot traffic.
Next, try to find a location where competition is minimal. It’s never a good idea to pick an area close to other pizzerias — unless you’re convinced customers will choose you.
The equipment needed for your restaurant will also depend on the style of the pizzeria you choose. Typically, a pizza shop will need these specialized tools, equipment, and technologies.
Choosing an oven depends on menu options as well as the volume and frequency of pizzas being made. Most pizza shops use either brick ovens, convection ovens, deck ovens, conveyor ovens, or impinger ovens.
A Point of Sale (POS) System
Ideally, a specialized POS system designed for pizzerias will be your best bet and cause the least amount of frustration. Ordering pizzas is a unique process and require a POS that offers a variety of features that simplify the ordering experience and enhance restaurant operations. Although it may not seem like it, ordering a pizza is much more complicated than ordering a cheeseburger or a medium-rare steak. There are hundreds of possible pizza topping combinations and customizations customers can order. From half-pie toppings to full-pie toppings and toppings that need to go on a specific half, ordering can be a complicated process without the right POS system.
Furniture and Decor
Also in the front-of-house (FOH), you’re going to need seating such as booths, tables, chairs, and even booster seats or high chairs for the youngest diners. You’ll also need menu boards and any pictures or decorations you plan to hang on the walls.
Dough Prepping Equipment
For the back-of-house (BOH), some of the heavy equipment you’re going to need are dough sheeters, dough presses, and proofing cabinets. A cost-effective alternative to purchasing brand new is finding used items that are in good condition or leasing equipment through a restaurant supplier.
Pizza Prepping Supplies
On the lighter side, you’re also going to need pizza cutters, cutting boards, utensils, cookware and glassware.
Now that you’ve found the right location and you know what type of equipment you’ll need, it’s time to start hiring employees. Finding the right staff is vital for any business because they’re the ones interacting with customers and representing your brand. You want to make sure they (and you) put your best foot forward.
Good employees will maintain consistency of service and high-level customer satisfaction. Your ideal candidates should be problem solvers that are also personable, driven, and reliable individuals that you can entrust with your business.
Not only are employees an extension of your brand, but so is your advertising. What does your brand stand for what’s the message you’re trying to convey to potential customers? The marketing strategy and positioning section of your business plan will act as a guide to begin your advertising campaign. Let’s explore a few platforms that will help you get the word out about your business.
Take advantage of free or low-cost social media advertising. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are great places to share information about your pizzeria. You can entice customers with high-quality photos and videos of your menu items. You can also highlight your employees in action and your presence in the local community.
Besides social media, another must-have in today’s digital landscape is a company website. Thanks to drop-and-drag website platforms like Wix, creating a user-friendly website for your business is relatively simple — even if you’re not technically savvy. Make sure to include the necessary information about your company such as the address, business hours, phone number, and menu.
In addition to a website and social media presence, there’s one other digital marketing strategy that’s worth mentioning, and that’s email marketing. For every dollar spent on email marketing, the average ROI is $44 — that’s a return on investment any business owner can applaud. Gathering email addresses before you open for business can be a little challenging, but not impossible. You can add web forms to your website and social media that prompt visitors to sign up for newsletters or email blasts.
Even though a digital footprint is the new standard, print advertising isn’t dead. There are still people in your community that get their news and information the old fashioned way through newspapers and other local publications. Before you open for business, take out an ad in your local newspaper. If your business is new to an area, this will give you a leg up with getting your name out.
Print or digital, every customer likes promotions and discounts. Offer special promotions to new customers and keep your regulars coming back for more.
Host special events at your restaurant such as live music, open mic nights, or the popular paint-and-sip classes where people eat and drink at your restaurant while following an instructor-led painting class. Lastly, before your big grand opening event, you’ll want to host a soft opening. Invite other local small business owners and community leaders to help create buzz and spread the word about your restaurant. Hosting a soft opening before your actual business launch date is an excellent way to work out operational kinks and get feedback on the menu. For instance, you’ll have the opportunity to practice your service strategy and see if the procedures needed to be changed or abandoned.
The Bottom Line
Pizza is in high demand right now and opening a pizzeria is proving to be a profitable venture. Following the steps outlined in the post will get you on the right track to owning a successful pizza shop of your own.
Author: Nathan Falger
As Marketing Coordinator at Restaurant Manager, a leader in restaurant and hospitality point of sale solutions, Nathan Falger leverages his degree in technical communication from Old Dominion University to create valuable content that addresses real problems and solutions in the food-service industry. Prior to Restaurant Manager, Nathan worked in marketing and event planning, as well as several fast-casual and quick-service restaurants.