How to renovate your pizzeria – complete guide
Catering is one of the sectors that has been most affected by the crisis caused by the pandemic, due to not being able to work at full capacity for several months. Indeed, in many cases it was not possible to work at all.
Many businesses have had to reorganize themselves and by the summer of 2020 there were several solutions adopted by restaurateurs to cope with the new situation, for example by setting up an outdoor cooking area or focusing on take-away and delivery.
However, numerous food services did not manage to organize themselves in time to face the change. Many still manage to get by, yet unfortunately there are also many who have had to shut down their business.
It will be essential to take advantage of the summer months by working to the maximum of our abilities so as to recover the losses due to the intermittent closures that we experienced between autumn and spring.
To do this, it is essential to organize the work efficiently, managing on the one hand to contain fixed costs and on the other hand to attract customers, not only in our restaurant (when the dining rooms are reopened), but above all by focusing on the sales of meals thanks to ‘take away orders’ or ‘home deliveries’.
We decided to create this guide to help restaurateurs to deal with the changes imposed by the situation, trying to provide useful advice to be able to renovate a pizzeria, adapting it to the needs we have to face during this period.
We will start by hinting at the trends that we have seen consolidating over the last year, looking at how many restaurateurs have found a way to work and cope with closures.
In focusing on the matter, we will see how to renovate a pizzeria to attract customers during this difficult period, illustrating four different strategies that can be useful in increasing customers. In fact, we will provide some tips to renew the menu and the image of the pizzeria, to take advantage of digital tools or to diversify our business in parallel to catering in the strictest sense.
Finally, we will summarize the advice provided to renovate a pizzeria by discussing the possibilities offered by Alfa professional ovens. Tools that allow us to make the most of outdoor spaces, increase productivity and produce extraordinary quality cooking results.
How to organize the pizzeria during the pandemic
Let’s start by talking about the particular conditions in which it has been possible to work during the pandemic. Covid-19 has upset our habitual activities, both in everyday life and at work.
Those who manage a catering service open to the public have in fact had to respect the health regulations, rightly issued by the institutions, which provide for three general rules, namely:
- Requiring both workers and customers to wear a mask
- Arrange for a hand sanitizer to be available upon entering the room
- Limiting entrances according to the available space, to avoid crowds
In addition to these three universal standards, each sector may have further provisions based on the type of work carried out and the extent of the risk of contagion.
The restaurateurs who were able to work had to organize themselves taking into account the anti-covid restrictions while trying to take advantage of the opportunities granted.
The most effective strategies (and the only ones possible) to work respecting the restrictions were two, that is:
- Focus on take-away and delivery
- Make the most of outdoor spaces
Let’s see how to best make use of them.
1. Focusing on take-away and delivery
Despite the health precautions we just mentioned, all the Italian regions (at more or less alternate periods) have had to face, and are facing, moments of more stringent closures, in which it is only possible to work with take-away or home deliveries, without being able to provide table service.
Furthermore, the traditional plate pizzeria has suffered even more from the closures because this type of catering service often only works in the evening. On the other hand, restaurants or pizzerias that provide pizza slices have been able to hold out thanks to opening (albeit limitedly) during lunch hour.
This has led many pizzerias that only worked for dinner to try to open for lunch, perhaps expanding the menu to also offer other dishes, or providing special offers.
In many cases this idea has been successful and numerous activities have managed to work even during the day, however, having to change their schedules and above all the type of offer aimed at their customers.
Nevertheless, even those who have tried this path have had to face periods of more stringent closures, due to the worsening of the pandemic situation. In fact, during the toughest lockdown periods, the only working solution was to be able to organize the business efficiently with take-away and home deliveries.
The main feature of this type of work is that usually the time slot in which most of the pizzas are baked is restricted, as most people normally have dinner between 8pm and 9pm. Most of the work for a pizzeria is therefore concentrated in a short time and it is necessary to reach high levels of productivity, managing to churn out several pizzas quickly without lowering the quality of the product.
Another disadvantage of working without an available dining room or rooms is that customers become more sensitive if we are a few minutes late with their order. This is caused by the fact that they have to wait with nothing to do, (perhaps standing or outdoors), instead of sitting comfortably at the table where in the meantime they can get a drink and have an appetizer.
In order to be able to work well, when providing only take-away service, it is necessary that those taking the orders manage not to accumulate too many pizzas, so as not to put the pizza chef in difficulty. Furthermore, it will also be essential to have a high-performance oven, which allows us to cook many pizzas in a short time without lowering the oven temperature.
Those who take orders in the traditional manner, that is, only by telephone, should be able to manage customer requests and combine them with the needs of the pizzeria (which, nevertheless, is the main duty of the waiters even when they take the order at the tables).
If we begin to take orders via social media as well as over the phone, it will be necessary to take into account the various communication channels and manage them in order to satisfy all customers, regardless of the method they have chosen to contact us.
This can be difficult to manage if there are different people concentrating on the various channels, or if we choose to offer our pizzas on external delivery apps such as JustEat or Deliveroo.
While it is true that these tools can make us reach a large number of potential customers, it is also true that we must be ready to promptly meet unexpected requests, since waiting times in these platforms must be very limited.
This is why many restaurant businesses prefer to organize themselves for home deliveries, that is, dedicating a person to make continuous trips between the pizzeria and the customers’ homes.
Ideally, to be able to reduce costs, it makes sense to have the courier make two or three deliveries for each journey, in order to amortize the delivery costs when delivering to several customers. To do this, it is obviously necessary that the destinations are not too far away from each other and that the times required by the various orders allow us to get the pizza still hot to everyone.
Being able to efficiently organize deliveries has proven to be the golden rule for earning money in this difficult period, as it is the only way that allows us to reach customers, guaranteeing an excellent pizza for dinner to those who do not wish to leave their homes.
Do you want to know which is the best oven for you?
2. Make the most of outdoor spaces
The second strategy that has proven to be effective for working during the pandemic is the efficient use of outdoor spaces.
The catering services that were lucky enough to set up outdoor spaces found themselves at an advantage, especially during the summer when the limitations were less stringent. In fact, science tells us that the likelihood of contagion is significantly reduced outdoors rather than in a closed area.
This factor has allowed those who provide tables outside to be able to work almost normally, guaranteeing their customers a safe service.
Having clarified the reason that led many restaurateurs to focus on this strategy, let’s now see how many of them have concretely organized their outdoor work.
In fact, making the most of outdoor spaces does not only mean arranging the tables so as to accommodate as many people as possible, but it is a strategy that also includes other factors, such as:
- The ability to increase table turnover
- Creating a comfortable environment
Let’s see briefly what these aspects consist of.
The ability to increase table turnover
This parameter indicates the capacity to take advantage of the spaces available and it enables us to establish the revenue index per square meter (valid for both internal and external rooms).
In order to work to the maximum capacity we need to provide a quick service, so as to be able to seat other customers at the same table during the same evening.
To make the most of table turnover in times of high demand, many pizzerias have organized table reservations over two shifts, thus dividing the arrival of customers throughout the evening.
By adopting this method, we can not only double the revenue of each table, but we can also avoid customers having to wait a long time to sit down.
We wish to remind you that it is necessary to sanitize the tables and chairs before accommodating subsequent customers and to make sure that there are no crowds of people waiting, all the while taking into consideration the flow of customers who come to collect the take-away food.
Creating a comfortable environment
The second factor to consider when making the most of outdoor spaces concerns the functionality of how the catering service is set-up, which will lead to the choices in creating a versatile work environment suitable for our needs.
Restrictions on interpersonal distances have often driven restaurateurs crazy. Armed with measuring tapes, they’ve tried adhering to the regulations by arranging as many tables as possible in their outdoor spaces.
In addition to meeting the operational needs of those who work, it is obviously essential to consider the customers’ needs. The setting up of the outdoor spaces represents the business card of our business and must be in line with the identity of our restaurant. In other words, we need to create an environment that is aesthetically pleasing and welcoming for our customers, while also taking into account our operational needs.
In order to provide greater comfort, many restaurants have chosen to set up their outdoor spaces with mobile tools, so as to modulate areas quickly and in total freedom.
To do this, tables and chairs for the outdoor area need to be chosen focusing on light and easy-to-move solutions including, in this perspective, the covers or partitions aimed at avoiding contagion between the tables using, for example, equipment with wheels.
Many, among the restaurants that have an abundance of outdoor space, have chosen to cook pizza in a mobile outdoor oven, not only to be able to move it easily around, but above all because it is a tool that helps to furnish the eating areas and highlights the skill of the pizza chef.
A high-quality professional cooking tool such as an Alfa steel oven can give a touch of class to your outdoor space, capturing the attention of customers who will also be satisfied by their excellently baked pizzas.
We also mentioned the various solutions implemented to take advantage of outdoor spaces during the pandemic, with our ovens as protagonists.
After seeing what solutions were adopted in the first unexpected phase of the pandemic, let’s now enter the heart of the discussion by illustrating four strategies that are useful to overcome this difficult phase and, above all, to develop your business in the medium to long term.
4 ways to renovate your pizzeria
The strategies we are about to see are all valid alternatives to increase the volume of work, diversifying our efforts on various initiatives to seek new lines of development.
All these solutions already existed prior to Covid-19, but the pandemic has forced restaurateurs to reorganize their work and many of them have exploited the situation for an in-depth review of their business, in some cases taking advantage of all the ideas we are about to suggest (in addition to the two fundamental points seen in the first paragraph).
The four strategies aimed at renovating a pizzeria that we are about to explore are:
- Renew the menu
- Update the activity image
- Take advantage of digital tools
- Diversify into parallel businesses
These suggestions can help you to overcome the crisis period and, above all, they are excellent tips for relaunching a restaurant and laying the foundations for solid growth once this health emergency is over.
Let’s now have a look at what the four strategies to renovate a pizzeria consist of during this particular pandemic period.
1. Renew the menu
The first and perhaps most immediate idea to think about concerns what we offer, that is, the menu made available to our customers. In addition to being graphically appealing and capable of communicating the soul of the pizzeria, potential customers must be able to find it easily through our communication channels and we need to present it in the best possible way.
Renewing a menu is always a source of attraction for customers, both for loyal ones and for new ones that we can reach by doing a little bit of advertising.
We can take advantage of this opportunity to rethink our shopping list and eliminate the ingredients that we use the least and especially those that require the most complicated management, i.e. foods that need long preparation times, that are very sensitive to storage temperatures and that have very short expiration dates.
Eliminating these types of ingredients so as to introduce food preparations that are quicker to make or that allow us more organizational flexibility, will enable us to both save time and work more comfortably.
By introducing new ingredients on our menu we can instead invent special proposals for our customers, which can concern both particular toppings for our pizzas and other dishes, such as appetizers or side dishes.
One piece of advice we’d like to give to those who believe they have a food proposal that needs updating is to think about how to take advantage of the opportunity to renew the menu to try to attract new types of customers.
For example, we might think of introducing lactose-free or gluten-free ingredients (taking the necessary precautions when preparing them), to meet our customers’ particular needs, while notifying the inclusiveness of our restaurant.
Another way could be to dedicate the updating of the menu to local products, looking for artisanal suppliers of food of extraordinary quality. If it is true that these foods are more expensive than similar industrial products, it is also true that many customers are willing to pay a bit more to enjoy a quality product that is deeply rooted in the territory of origin.
We can also introduce new dishes by changing how we organize our work, for example in the case we mentioned earlier regarding the pizzerias that have opened for lunch, while also offering alternatives to pizza.
Here too, we can experiment with dough to make sandwiches to be prepared in various ways (which could be more successful than pizza for lunch), or to expand the choice of first, second and side dishes, depending on the tools we have, available staff and skills.
Whatever your culinary idea is to renew your restaurant’s offer, the following principle is always valid ’it is better to focus on high quality and manage to get it paid well, rather than waging war through lower prices’.
A pizzeria that serves exceptional pizzas in an impeccable manner can also charge more than ten euros for a Margherita, for example, if it can convince the customer that it is worth the price.
2. Update the activity image
The quality of our offer, and therefore the price we can ask for it, is not given only by the goodness and quality of the dishes served, but also by the consumption context that we are able to create with a convincing preparation of our restaurant and with attention to detail.
The second strategy consists of taking the opportunity to reorganize the spaces and working methods so as to renew our pizzeria’s image, combining the needs of practicality with aesthetic features. A good layout of the spaces (internal and external) includes many aspects, ranging from the style of the fixed furnishings and the mobile arrangements to the way of actually setting the tables.
In the last part of the initial paragraph we mentioned the fundamental role played by the open oven in attracting the attention of customers, simply because its mere presence entices customers to enjoy excellent pizzas.
Every pizzeria can find the ideal outdoor oven for its spaces and production needs, that can provide excellent cooking and enrich the design of the pizzeria’s exterior ambience.
Another aspect not to be overlooked is that of the packaging of our take-away dishes, given that during this period it is a method of working of fundamental importance.
Our image is seen through the graphics and practicality of the pizza boxes and containers for other dishes, whether customers come to collect our dishes or if we make home deliveries.
Do you want to know which is the best oven for you?
3. Take advantage of digital tools
A positive aspect of the lockdown periods we have faced is that of the great boost of digitization.
Many people now rely on social media, or the many delivery apps, to choose what to eat and this makes using digital tools a decisive factor in developing our business and fighting this period of crisis.
All digital tools are used to be easily traceable by the people who are choosing where to order food, based on their searches and where they are located.
We can build our digital presence in various ways and include different tools, which we can choose based on assorted factors but which will all have to work synergistically to attract customers.
We have already mentioned food delivery apps, which are useful for reaching a large number of people if we are in a big city, but which complicate our order management a little and also require us to respond to reviews, both positive and, above all, negative.
The other fundamental digital tools to be exploited are website and social networks, whose great advantage lies in the possibility of using them for free as a virtual showcase and the ability to carry out targeted advertising on the various platforms.
These communication channels must be managed skillfully and consistently to offer lasting results and this is why many businesses in the restaurant industry have decided to turn to digital communication professionals.
Once we have incorporated the main digital tools into our business organization, we can implement a large number of ideas to offer our pizzas to people online.
Another important aspect of these tools also lies in the fact that they make it possible to study data relating to our customers, in order to obtain useful information so as to provide goods aimed at individual customers or to sponsor a specific product.
Another idea is to carry out influencer marketing initiatives. This strategy is based on collaborating with people who have a lot of followers on social networks, so as to exploit their image as an advertising medium.
It goes without saying that we don’t need to contact celebrities who have millions of followers and want exaggerated fees just to have a picture taken; instead we should try to find the right people.
The choice of influencers to collaborate with is based on several parameters, which mainly concern the quality of the audience that follows them and the ability to influence the choices of these people to become our customers.
4. Diversify into parallel businesses
The last strategy that we wish to suggest when renovating a pizzeria concerns an actual expansion of the business, in the sense that in addition to the pizzeria work that is already being done, we can also begin to offer other services.
In fact, we might want to look into various ideas to diversify our business, launching those that can become an actual businesses parallel to the pizzeria and that can allow us to increase revenues.
For example, many businesses that have not been able to take advantage of outdoor spaces have decided to invest in a mobile oven or even in a complete food-truck, so as to reach customers in various areas open to the public.
This type of work requires an oven that is not too large and easy to move, as we learned in depth when we talked about ovens for food-trucks.
When holding events with numerous people will once again be admissible, having a mobile oven can also prove to be a considerable advantage, since in addition to our pizzeria we will also be able to take advantage of many other opportunities to increase revenues, by participating in public or private events in which to bake our pizzas.
A final idea that may help expand our business can be to organize online courses to make pizza at home, offering theoretical (cooking shows) or practical (cooking classes) lessons.
This idea can serve both to offer something new to our most loyal customers, and to reach a lot of other people who have no way of enjoying our pizza, should they reside far away.
If done well, these initiatives can lead not only to having an additional source of income, but will also help consolidate the image of our business as authoritative experts in the field of pizzas.
How to renovate your pizzeria with an Alfa oven
In addition to the strategies and tools we have looked at, another correct way to renovate a pizzeria is to look at the trends in the sector and forecasts for the near future, trying to seize the various opportunities based on the context in which we work.
Among the trends that were implemented the most due to the changes in working tendencies as a result of the pandemic, home deliveries and the use of digital communication channels are particularly important, aimed at reaching people directly in their homes.
In this guide we talked about the two main strategies that have allowed restaurateurs to continue working, namely the ability to take advantage of outdoor spaces and the ability to organize work with take-aways and deliveries.
In addition to these two essential conditions in this Covid-19 era, we have also illustrated four other ideas for renovating the pizzeria.
In fact, we have seen that renewing the menu and image, diversifying and digitizing the pizzeria’s activities are useful processes not only to overcome this pandemic moment, but above all to have an edge when we return to normal conditions.
Proper strategy planning, including the right tools and people, will be the key to being able to consistently attract customers and differentiate yourself from the competition.
A significant renovation of our pizzeria cannot ignore the choice of a cooking tool that guarantees reliability and exceptional cooking quality.
We would like to therefore conclude this guide by mentioning the possibilities offered by Alfa professional ovens; cooking tools chosen by thousands of professionals around the world to best meet the demands of their customers.
Alfa has been making ovens for pizzerias for more than forty years and has often contributed to innovations in the sector, especially by introducing wood-fired steel ovens.
Thanks to Forninoxtm technology, which combines the core of a refractory stone oven with a steel dome, we have developed wood-fired ovens that reach 500°C in just several dozen minutes and keep them constantly heated even when baking numerous pizzas.
The steel solution also allowed us to develop mobile outdoor ovens, thanks to the significant reduction in the weight of the instrument and the creation of solid bases equipped with wheels. This solution also provides for dedicating space under the oven to arrange the wood or to place the gas cylinder.
In addition to the great thermal performance and the advantages of practicality, Alfa steel ovens boast great care in design that makes them capable of finely furnishing the outdoor spaces of your pizzeria.
The steel dome and the open fire allow our ovens to express the harmony between innovation and tradition and are therefore perfect for providing a substantial soul to your business.
We wish all restaurateurs to overcome this difficult period in the best possible way, but above all we hope they are capable of renewing their business effectively thanks to the ideas we have suggested.