International Pizza Expo™ Beer And Bull™ Q&A
Each March, at the International Pizza Expo™ in Las Vegas, Nevada, there are two Beer and Bull™ sessions where attendees can ask questions and share their experiences. These sessions provide a great opportunity to learn from other operators’ experiences, see the variety of solutions to everyday issues, and gauge new trends in the industry.
Here is a brief recap of the hottest Q&A from this year:
Are any operators raising your menu prices? How much?
What is everyone charging for delivery?
- We raise prices based on the food cost increase percentage - if my costs went down I raised the price 1-3% to cover higher increases on other supplies.
- We increase prices on different parts of the menu at different times of the year – so little that customers don’t notice.
- This year everything went up by $1.
- We print our menus 4 times/year and adjust prices with costs.
- We raised them 7% and had no push back from customers.
- My customers don’t care if we raise prices as long as we serve quality products.
- My customers were upset but understand that things are expensive.
What is your policy for delivery driver insurance?
- We don’t charge anything.
- $4 for a 25 mile range.
- $.25 per mile.
- We don’t charge for delivery – we pay the drivers $8-10/hour and they average $5/house in tips – we only allow up to 2 houses per run so that the pizza stays hot.
- $2 per delivery and the drivers keep all tips.
- $4 per delivery with an average ticket of $35.
- We drive junker cars - I purchase them for $500 or less, claim the federal allowance of $.54/mile and we’ve paid for the car, our drivers gets minimum wage plus tips.
- One of my drivers got into an accident and his insurance wouldn’t cover it so I now carry delivery driver insurance to cover myself and them.
- I have heard that the drivers’ insurance companies will cover accidents but people just tend to go after who has more money.
- My drivers are required to have covered insurance for themselves but I carry some as well.
- I have only found one company that excludes delivery drivers from their policies.
With the price of fuel cost we offer free delivery for 5 miles and $1/mile after that. Does anyone else compensate for fuel cost?
- If you take the actual costs for each delivery it is really pennies; to simplify, we just add that minimal fee to each delivery.
- The drivers are always going to complain – we charge for delivery so that we cover delivery expenses without charging all of our customers.
Does anyone give away free food?
Are there any good employee incentive programs that don’t involve cash?
- We charge for everything – it’s our business.
- We give the employees free food – when they’ve worked for 6-10 hours; otherwise, they pay cost and make it themselves.
- Be careful about giving food away – you will need to fill out a 1099 form.
- We give 30% off for employees and their families who come when they’re not working.
- We have free food to all employees at all times – it encourages loyalty.
Can we charge more for credit card purchases?
- We take the employees to local events like races, rodeos, go-cart tracks, etc.
- We give away a European trip for two – they can buy tickets to win the trip for $1/each.
- We give the waiters and waitresses who sell the most of the day’s special a free meal.
- We have an ongoing contest where the bartender who sells the most of the specialty beer get a night off where their manager will work for them and give them all of the tips.
Is anyone using online ordering?
- Definitely – the gas stations do it and we should too.
Anyone selling gluten-free pizza?
- Was 10% of our sales last year.
- Our online average check price is usually higher than phone or in room.
- We pay $50 a month, but it is worth the price.
- I don’t even have a website for my restaurant let alone online ordering or an app.
- 30% of my orders come in online or through apps.
- My customers don’t want to be put on hold when they’re ordering, why not give them an option to go online or use an app?
- We did over a $250,000 in online ordering last year.
Does anyone discount lazy customers?
- We order gluten-free dough so we don’t have to deal with having flour around it. We have a small oven in the back because we don’t have room in the kitchen.
- We have a “gluten-free” pizza but we don’t keep it away from the other areas of kitchen; we have notices so people understand that it may possibly be contaminated.
- All of our flour is rice flour, we have been certified as gluten-free establishment.
- It takes a lot of steps to make sure our pizzas are gluten-free; when we started the GF pizzas were getting mixed up with other ingredients so now we are only using rice flour and don’t have to worry about cross contamination.
- We ask the customer if they are intolerant or if a lifestyle choice. For celiac intolerant, we take more precautions.
- We realized that we had to research all ingredients to make sure they don’t have gluten in them before serving.
- Be careful, if you make someone sick, you are done.
Anyone using LivingSocial or Groupon?
- I don’t reward my customers for bad behavior – coupon shopping, discount dealers, giving lazy customers discounts, etc.
- I don’t want to reward customers for not buying; this causes loss in repeat returns - I reward loyal customers.
- I give special deals to new and loyal customers and reminders to lazy customers.
- I have found that people who buy the coupons tend to be good returning customers.
- Some people only come with Groupons, for us as restaurant owners, we need returning customers so we can’t make enough off of them.
- We will continue to use coupons in slow times because customers tend to be happy with it.
- We wouldn’t use again - they wouldn’t purchase more than the deal and were bad tippers.
- It was a bad decision - we only got deal shoppers.