Success Stories

Vizzy’s Pizza Palace

Despite Detroit’s tough economy, Independent pizzeria owner Paul Visingardi has still managed to profitably grow his family’s business in recent years. It has not been easy, but doubling down on his food quality, personally connecting with each new customer, and even routinely visiting local businesses have helped the Visingardis gradually attract more customers, sell more food, and make more money despite challenging conditions.

Paul says that when tough times first hit Detroit a few years ago, his customer counts dipped as his loyal patrons began eating out less frequently. At the time, Paul watched several relatively new competitors try to overcome the slowdown by cutting their prices (and ingredient quality), with predictably unfortunate results.

That is when Paul realized that beating tough times required keeping his existing customers loyal (by further enhancing his food quality) and finding ways to add new quality-oriented customers over time. But since all restaurants are also trying to replace reduced revenue, “adding customers” is easier said than done.

For example discounting, even selectively, would have just attracted disloyal price shoppers. So instead, Paul focused on two specific opportunities. First, positive word of mouth was still providing Vizzy’s a slow, but steady, source of new first-time customers. In busier times, the Visingardis had ignored how often first-timers returned. But now, Paul realized he needed to do everything possible to make each first timer’s visit so positive that they would have to return.

Because Vizzy’s business is mostly takeout and delivery, Paul’s POS system tracks each order by the customer’s phone number. So Paul programmed the POS to automatically flag the order ticket whenever a brand new customer is added to his computer.

Then whenever a ticket is flagged, Paul adds colorful refrigerator magnets, take out menus, and a brief handwritten greeting to that person’s order. Later, Paul phones to personally thank them for giving Vizzy’s a try and to ask how they enjoyed their meal. Most folks are impressed that the owner notices new customers and values their opinion. As a result of his “welcome” program, Paul has greatly increased the number of first-timers who become regulars.

Second, because most of Vizzy’s lunch orders are placed by area businesses, Paul decided to strengthen his personal connection with local companies. Now he spends one morning a week walking from business to business in different parts of town, dropping off menus, visiting old friends, and introducing himself to new ones. As a result, lunchtime orders have also slowly grown over time.

None of this has been easy. However, between keeping existing customers loyal with great tasting food and personally embracing new ones over time, the Visingardi family continues to make the most of tough times!