Technology a Key Ingredient for Pizzerias
There is something magical about old-school, neighborhood pizzerias, ones that have been family run for generations. They have an undeniable ambiance of warmth and passion.
The rise in technology within the restaurant business has given big brands a significant advantage and they’re grabbing market share from the “Mom and Pop” pizzerias.
Independent pizza shop owners have a lot of reasons for procrastinating on adopting new technology: the investment, time, expertise, etc. Recent studies show the tech gap is widening. Consider online ordering where the large chains attribute more than half their orders from tablets, computers and phones. By contrast, independents receive about 10 percent of order from online.
Even more alarming, a recent survey indicated that 75 percent of independent pizzerias have a website and only 50 percent are active on social media platforms. These are key 21st century opportunities to obtain and engage with customers. The large chains are 100 percent involved with social media and all have websites. Phone apps are another area where the big brands are playing and the independents are on the sidelines.
It’s difficult for the independents to keep up with larger chain which have budgets and staff to take full advantage of technology. But there are ways for the small pizzerias to work smarter, be creative and most importantly, stay close to their customers to give them what they want. Here are a few suggestions on strategies for independent pizza shops to hold onto and gain back market share:
- Focus on natural products – Natural pepperoni and other premium meats always beat the low-cost formulated ones typically found in lower priced pizza. The same goes for fresh, locally-sourced vegetables. It is immensely easier for smaller restaurants to use fresh, local ingredients. Larger chains simply cannot source local ingredients nor have the flexibility to change menu items based on consumer interest and demand.
- Quality over quantity – In order to differentiate themselves from the pizza chain restaurants, smaller restaurants should focus on the quality of their pizzas instead of how many they can make and sell. They are more like fine craftsmen than factory line workers, able to put the time and energy into every pizza to make it special for each customer.
- Marketing to the right audience – Unlike large chain or franchise pizzerias that have locations all over the country, independent pizzerias are not marketing their restaurant on a national level. They have grown through word-of-mouth or advertising through local television, radio, or print ads. Because of this, small shops are able to be more personable to their customers and often have regulars whom they know by name.
- Play the local card – One key promotional channel that’s easier for an independent versus a large chain is to work with local schools, athletic teams and non-profits to sponsor events and offer pizzas at fundraisers. Get your brand in front as many local people as possible, so they can taste the difference and come back for more.
- Incorporate a few online platforms – The areas where an independent can really express the unique, family brand is on the internet. It works great on Facebook and of course, on a website. Every pizza shop has to have a website. A Facebook page is also critical to build a following and to offer customers a place to express themselves with the brand. If your restaurant isn’t online, it’s time to take the plunge.
Local, independent pizzerias also have history on their side. If families have been going to a restaurant for years, it becomes a tradition that is passed on to their children and their children’s children. The memories created there are undeniable and cannot be completely wiped out by fancy new technology or big businesses.
Small pizza shops can’t stop technology, but there are certain aspects that need to be embraced as well as other ways to make sure your pizza stays popular and relevant.