Far too many times I’ve heard pizzeria operators say, “We were doing great until the competition moved in a couple of blocks away; then sales started to slip.”
Here’s the truth: You will always have competition; it’s a given if you’re running a pizzeria. However, the way you handle that competition can mean the difference between success and failure.
While I’ve heard of some pizzeria operators going to extremes such as parking their own delivery vehicles in front of other pizzerias and stalking the activities of other operators, I’ve got a much more productive–and less “I’m the crazy pizza guy”–plan in mind.
Before anything else, take a deep breath and accept the fact that you have a new competitor; you can’t be the only game in town forever. Now, let’s explore how to make sure your business keeps going strong despite the new guy.
Step 1: Focus on the Big Three. I’m not talking about pizza chains here; I’m referring to three factors that can help any business stand out from the rest–quality, service and price. It’s OK if you can’t hit all of three, but focus on offering the absolute best in at least two of these areas and your customers will notice.
Step 2: Reinforce Your Brand to Your Customers. It’s natural for people to try out the new pizzeria in town, but it’s up to you to keep them from returning to your new competition. Use your powers of direct mail, social media, email newsletters and more to remind your customers about what your pizzeria offers and why they are so important to you. Actively communicate with your customers for several months before, during and after the opening of your competitor’s store.
Step 3: Promote Something New. Help alleviate the desire for your customers to go to the new guy by giving them something new at your own pizzeria. Promote new weekly specials, a new beer pairing program, a Sunday brunch or a lunch buffet. Be the pizzeria that they already love, while also offering them something new to try each time.
How do you fight back against competition? Let me know in the comments section below.