Business Builders

Attracting Families

“Free Pizza” Snack Wins After Tournament Parties

During the winter in “hockey country,” many towns regularly host tournaments between youth teams. Realizing that such tournaments represented a concentration of potential customers, this pizzeria owner regularly visits scheduled tournaments with enough free samples to give each hungry team a light snack (and whet their appetite for more). As a result, many teams return the favor by celebrating their victory (or good effort) at her pizzeria!

Wishes to remain anonymous


“Pizza for Book” Attracts Young Readers”

After reading the April ’95 La Trattoria, Bill Morrow decided to try a Key Idea (originally shared by Pizza Factory owner Darlene Kovach) by rewarding local school children with free mini pizzas for reading a set number of books. According to the school’s librarian, Bill’s sponsorship pushed the number of kids participating in the literacy program from a typical 20 to a full 125! And Bill enthusiastically reports that in redeeming the prizes, all but two families ordered additional items to the free pizza. “What a great return on investment!”

Bill Morrow, Owner Morrow’s Pizza Deshler, OH

(Editor’s note: A special thanks to Darlene and all the other past contributors who’ve shared their valuable ideas through La Trattoria!)


Pizza Box Decorating Makes Tour Memorable

Many pizzerias and restaurants have discovered that hosting preschool and elementary school class tours on a slow day of the week is a great way to win over the youngsters (and their families). To make a good idea even better, Sara Waldecker sends visiting classes plain 8” pizza boxes to decorate in advance and bring with them on their tour. That way, after the children have each built their own pizza, it returns from the oven in their own personalized box!

Sara Waldecker, Owner Dominic’s Italian Restaurant  Monroe, MI


Self Service Incentives Reward Customer Satisfaction

For traditional tableservice restaurants, customer gratuities can help give servers a personal stake in satisfying guests. However, employees at self service restaurants and pizzerias often don’t receive this form of customer satisfaction based incentive. Therefore, restaurateur Joe LaMarca has developed a unique incentive system for his prix fixe cafeteria style pasta restaurant which rewards employees daily cash bonuses of various amounts based on how many customers they serve during a given shift. (i.e., If the number of meals exceeds 100, each of Joe’s half dozen employees receives a $10 bonus. 120 means a $20 bonus, 150 means $30, and so on.) The bonus points were selected so that there is almost always some bonus, but not always. Joe says that the secret to the system’s effectiveness is the fact that rewards are paid daily. Since the reward is sizeable and tied to performance, his employees are motivated not only to sell more meals, they recognize the connection between how well guests are treated today and whether they return tomorrow. As a result, Joe says his employees are motivated to keep the place cleaner and treat the customers better, which helps them make future bonuses – while growing Joe’s business!

Additionally, because the bonus is paid only to employees who are working that day, absenteeism is virtually nonexistent. Also, Joe doesn’t have to worry about theft from the till since every employee is watching to see that the maximum number of meals gets recorded. While Joe’s simple format and prix fixe menu make it especially easy to count and pay bonuses, this powerful concept can be successfully applied to other self service settings.

Joe Lamarca Lamarca Pasta Restaurant New York, NY


“Host for a Day” Motivates Servers

Restaurateur Diana Masci wanted the freedom to take an occasional day off from her role as the “chief greeter” at her upscale restaurant Borsa di Roma. Therefore, on a slow Monday, she chose her replacement from among her waitstaff to serve as “Host for the Day.” Diana’s day away left her refreshed and did wonders for waitstaff morale! As a result of the special recognition paid to their comrade, the other waiters began “sprucing up” and working doubly hard at satisfying guests – in competition for the honor of being “Host” the next time around! A definite win, win, win situation!

Diana Masci, Owner Borsa di Roma New York, NY


Storeroom “Sale” Educates Employees on Food Costs

After observing needless food waste in the kitchen, this restaurateur decided to find a way to educate his staff as to the true cost of his ingredients. So to prove the point, he opened his storeroom to sell foodstuffs to his employees at cost. The exercise taught employees firsthand that even small items are worth something, and some were very surprised to learn how much he invests in superior quality ingredients. As a result, they have become more careful to avoid needlessly wasting food!

Wishes to remain anonymous


Paycheck Notes Grab Employee Attention

After struggling to discover a way to effectively inform employees about schedule changes, holidays, contests, etc., Bobbi Hannigan hit upon a surefire winner by clipping the notes to the one place where every employee is guaranteed to look – their paychecks! Since that time, her employees have had absolutely no credible excuse for not being informed!

Bobbi Tolve Hannigan, Owner Giacomo’s Italian Café  Littleton, CO