I want to encourage all our readers to check out our new Expert Advice section on the lower right portion of the PizzaMarketplace home page. There you'll find hard information and helpful hints in five (for now, as I expect the list to grow) monthly columns submitted by some of the top advisors and analysts in the foodservice industry.
This is the latest of our efforts to connect our readers to the pizza industry pros in the know, veterans who've been there, done that and succeeded in the restaurant trenches.
Beginning next month, a new submission from a different columnist will appear each week. That way their information remains fresh, timely and topical.
Steve Coomes, Editor
Here's a look at the categories our columnists will cover, plus a little background on each of them:
Cheese Market Analysis: Jerry Dryer has spent more than 30 years analyzing the dairy industry as an observer, editor and reporter. In 1977, he gathered that expertise and launched his own consultancy in which he advises dairy products producers on where he believes the market is heading and why.
Near the middle of each month, Dryer will supply PizzaMarketplace with his analysis of the cheese market and its possible affects on the pizza industry. The timing of his columns will coincide with the release of major reports for dairy industry watchers. Translation: You'll have the latest information -- an insider's perspective, really -- on the most costly item that goes on your pizzas.
Marketing: Seemingly by luck, Kamron Karington stumbled in to the pizza business several years ago. A marketing expert, Karington was answering an ad for Rolling Stones tickets and wound up speaking to a business broker who also sold him a pizza shop (Perhaps I need to have that man write a column on sales strategies!)
Karington liked the pizza business well enough not only to learn it, but to turn the money-losing independent operation into $1.6 million producer by applying his knowledge of marketing.
Later, after selling his operation, Karington returned to marketing consulting full time and went on to write "The Black Book: Your Complete Guide to Creating Staggering Profits in Your Pizza Business." Each month, he'll share insights based on the knowledge collected in this seminal text.
Service: Paul Paz also got into foodservice via an indirect path. Despite being a highly successful insurance salesman, Paz burned on out the business and started looking for more people-centered work. Much to his family's dismay, he changed careers and became a table server at a mid-scale restaurant and found that he loved the work.
As it turned out, his customers loved him, too, and Paz proved that waiting tables could pay well when the right techniques were applied to the task.
In the two decades since, Paz has turned his work as "a career waiter" into a training, speaking and service consulting business under the umbrella of Waitersworld.com. He also is the author of "Service At It's Best: Waiter-Waitress Training -- A Guide to Becoming a Successful Server."
Operations: Few know the pizza industry as well as Jim Moran, who amassed his operations knowledge as an employee of Domino's Pizza Team Washington, the legendary franchise operation run by Frank Meeks. While working for Meeks, Moran won that franchise organization's Driver of the Year and Manager of the Year awards. After becoming a regional director, he owned his own franchise.
Now a trainer, consultant and speaker with Restaurant Trainers, Inc., Moran travels the country helping clients improve their operations. He speaks at restaurant tradeshows and is the author of a training manual titled, "77 Winning Strategies for Restaurant Management."
Financial Management: When I first saw Jim Laube speak on tracking restaurant numbers at the 1999 International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, one question leapt to mind: "Where was this guy when I was in operations?"
Laube's gift for simplifying sometimes-confounding financial management issues and showing people how to make sense of their numbers is unique and valuable.
After 25 years in the foodservice business, Laube founded RestaurantOwner.com, a subscription-based educational Web site that trains operators how to control costs, track expenses and make a profit by analyzing their numbers. And every month, he'll share some of that wisdom with readers of PizzaMarketplace.
If you would like to know more about any of our experts, click on their names in this column or on the links in each of their articles.
Lastly, if you have a particularly puzzling issue that any of our experts might help you with, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll pass that suggestion along to them.