Business Builders

Surprising Sales

“Flip the Tip” Night

With his pizzeria located next to Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Noster, MO, owner Scott Pierson knows that military personnel and their families often live within very modest means. To demonstrate his respect for their sacrifice and appreciation for their loyal business, Scott surprised them with a “Flip the Tip” night. That is, when members of the base community paid their bill, Cugino’s Pizzeria “flipped the tip” by chipping in 15% toward their meal in thanks for their service to community and country. Scott’s customers seemed to genuinely appreciate his gesture and continue to reward him with their loyalty!

Scott Pierson, Owner Cugino’s Pizzeria, Knob Noster, MO


“Call Me” Lists

While price-off “specials” may technically increase “sales,” they sacrifice profitability, while training customers to expect future discounts. Instead, when restaurateur Anthony Donatone wants to boost sales and profits, he schedules one of his unique “call me” specials. That is, Anthony has created a number of full price “limited availability” specialties (e.g., wild boar) not on his regular menu. And when customers rave about a given specialty, Anthony offers to call them the next time it’s available. In fact, some of Anthony’s “call me” lists are so long that announcing that specialty a week beforehand doubles its sales (or causes it to sell out in advance)!

Anthony Donatone, Owner Casa D’Italia, Seattle, WA


Tasting Is Believing

When Sal & Lina Pagliarulo discovered a particularly flavorful Chianti, they did not use words to entice customers to buy some. Instead, they let the wine speak for itself by offering guests a complimentary “taste” to enjoy while looking over their menu. By allowing guests to savor their 1 to 2 ounce samples at their leisure (instead of being asked to decide on the spot), many who accept this hospitality end up ordering a full glass for themselves or a bottle to share with the table!

Lina & Sal Pagliarulo, Owners Lina’s Ristorante, Bloomingdale, NJ


Keep Hot Bags Hot

Insulated “hot bags” did not always keep Bob Bleichner’s pizzas hot enough on cold winter deliveries. His inexpensive solution? Homemade box warmers! That is, Bob stacks 16″ x 16″ squares of 1/8 inch Masonite paneling on the top of his deck oven to warm. As soon as each finished pie emerges from the oven and is boxed and bagged for delivery, Bob takes the warmest Masonite square from the bottom of the stack and slips it directly under the box within the bag. In turn, the hot Masonite keeps the pizza toastier in transit.

To make the warmers, Bob uses a table saw to cut one 4′ x 8′ sheet of Masonite (from the lumber store) into eighteen 16″ x 16″ pieces. The resulting squares cost Bob less than $1 each and are virtually indestructible.

Bob Bleichner, Owner Pizza Bob’s Benton, IL

Why Kitchen Layout Matters

While being trained in kitchens across Europe, chef Allan Russo noticed an interesting employee pattern. Kitchens where the entire team worked side by side tended to run smoother than kitchens where some workstations were tucked around corners or on different floors.

Allan believes that is because employees who physically work together constantly see for themselves how well their contribution is helping (or holding back) the rest of the team. On the other hand, employees whose remote workstations prevent them from seeing everyone else’s pace tend to underperform. In turn, coworkers who do pull their weight end up resenting this underperformance as “slacking.”

So when opening his own place, Allan insisted on finding a square kitchen, where every station (including food storage and dishwashing) is visible to everyone in the room. Not only does the kitchen run smoothly, 360 degree visibility tells Allan in a single glance whether kitchen tasks are flowing smoothly or need a quick correction.

Allan Russo, Owner Sette Cucina Italiana Bernardsville, NJ