The January "Jobs Report" released earlier in the month showed continuing improvement in the unemployment rate.
I am an economist by training; please do not hold it against me. We economists generally find data that contradicts or refutes other data and are well known for saying, "...but on the other hand ..." Ronald Regan famously said, "All I ever wanted was a one-armed economist." But I digress.
I will say it out loud, I do not believe the government data, unemployment at 8.3 percent. This is election year reporting. In today's world, people that have given up looking for work are no longer counted in the data, they simply vanish.
I am not making a political statement, just pointing out that the data reported does not match the reality on the ground. Politicians from both sides of the aisle over sell their accomplishments and under state their weaknesses. Many Americans find themselves unemployed or under-employed. The success of the restaurant industry is based on employment, disposal income and consumer confidence. We see the economy slowly improving but restaurant sales are not jumping, yet.
The macro-economic scene has to improve first. The keys are more jobs, less foreclosures and the belief that things are improving. On the positive side, cheese prices have moderated and seem low at the moment. Predictions for the next few months are to remain in this lowered range.
So how do you use this information to drive pizza sales?
Create a positive work environment
Your front line employees communicate much with their physical language AND their body language. Good times from management filter down to guests. Keep your team positive. Tell them at the pre-shift meeting that things are beginning to improve and watch that positive energy transfer to extra drinks, desserts and bigger tips.
Promote the improving economy
Here is an example, use a past success to create more success. Have a "Super Bowl Thank You Promo" – We had such a great Super Bowl; we are extending our half-time, half-price wing promotion on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.
If you are an owner-operator, come out of the kitchen and out of the office. Walk around your shop, smile, and buy regular customers an appetizer or a drink "on the house." When happy owners are generous, customers reciprocate with extra purchases and bigger tips, this is infectious. Remember, one of the keys to recovery is consumer confidence, create some of your own. The economy is improving, push it along in your place of business. All politics is local, go sell it.
Ed Zimmerman is a pizza industry veteran and President of The Food Connector. His almost four decades of foodservice experience includes food manufacturing and distribution leadership, food industry technology, marketing services and restaurant and grocery operations management.