Halloween, Super Bowl Sunday and Thanksgiving Eve all have one thing in common: They're among the biggest pizza delivery nights of the year. With that latter date less than a week away, there are still measures pizzeria owners and operators can take to make this year their best.
New Orleans-based Naked Pizza's Brock Fillinger, co-owner and director of systems and supply, makes it a point to gather his employees together the night before the "big day" – not just delivery drivers, but managers and phone people, too. One of the biggest factors he's found to having a smooth Thanksgiving Eve, he says, is effective communication between all team members.
Take no directives for granted – but watch the language. "Don't give them a 'get ready for a tough day' outlook, but rather, start selling it as being an exciting, fun and profitable day," said Bob Kulick, president of JMC Restaurant Distribution. "Set challenges or contests for the team. Make sure everyone is ready to get there wearing their best game face that day!"
Prepping your staff is only part of preparing to shine. You also need to ensure the correct amount of supplies are in place for this high-volume time. Guesstimations leave too much to chance. Rather, use your POS system or other technologies to help project supply needs. If you have the tools but haven't learned how to use them in this regard, now's the time to brush up.
"Our POS system helps us make projections on how many deliveries drivers and insiders are capable of producing in each half hour," said Scott Iversen, director of marketing and franchise development for Topper's Pizza Inc. "The POS system also projects how much of each ingredient we will need based on our historical sales data. We then prep the appropriate amount of each of our ingredients and have them stocked and easily accessible."
Once your ingredients are hopped up and prep work ready to go, you might want to hatch a last-minute game plan to help your team pull off plays with ease. Naked Pizza's Fillinger has a favorite of his own.
"We stage our delivery bags slightly differently (that night)," he said. "Because it's crazy during the 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. window – we have the phone people and oven expeditor grouping the hot bags for our delivery drivers. This allows them to come into the shop, drop the old bags, and immediately go without having to worry about routing and times. We estimate that we save a couple minutes per order doing it like this, which definitely adds up by the end of the night."
The sheer amount of people your delivery drivers and phone employees will be in contact with makes Thanksgiving Eve a perfect marketing opportunity. Pair that with the time of year – Rosati's Pizza's Marla Topliff calls it the kickoff to catering season – and you'd be remiss not to take advantage.
"People should be box-topping something to every Thanksgiving order they deliver that talks about catering, and maybe a coupon for an office party in December, just to get the season started the right way," Topliff said. And don't be invasive, but the unnaturally high face-to-face time your delivery drivers are getting in the field could be a great opportunity for them to capture neighborhood-specific e-mail addresses for newsletters or other e-mail marketing. Just be sure to prepare a script for drivers ahead of time to present with checks – and maybe incentivize the amount coming back through contests, like Kulick suggested.
But when everything is said and done, everyone should be praised for the collective pull-off. "Your team worked hard," Kulick said. "Start preparing for the next big day by showing your appreciation to them for what they have done."