Pizza Today - May 2016 - 18

with SCOTT WIENER

man on the street

Converting Your Customers into Fans

Customers at Hello Pizza in Minneapolis take photos in a photobooth, which
are then posted around the shop.

T

hink of your favorite
sports team. When they're
playing a big game, you
get excited. When they win, you
take it as a personal victory. When
someone speaks badly about their
players, you spring to their defense.
As a fan, you are an engine of the
sports business. In much the same
way, your customers are the engines
of your pizzeria. While most of your
customers simply buy your food, you
probably have a dedicated sect that
considers themselves fans. Lately I've
noticed how pizzerias are converting
their customers into legions of active
fans, armed with tools to voluntarily
market on behalf of the restaurants
they love.
Anybody who has ever spent time
at or near Fordham University in
the Bronx knows Pugsley Pizza. It's
an off-campus hangout that gets
more action than the university's
actual student center and feels more
like a dolled-up living room than a
restaurant. At the helm are husband
and wife duo Sal and Pina, who treat
1 8 / P I Z Z AT O D AY. C O M / M AY 2 0 1 6

everyone who walks through their
door as the most important person
in the room. I'm sure you treat your
customers well, but Sal and Pina goes
so far as to name menu items after
theirs. Handmade signs adorn the
counter, advertising specials like The
Elisa (one cheese slice, garlic knots,
medium side of sauce for $5.99) and
The Richie (one cheese slice, one
chicken roll, large fountain soda for
$6.99). It's the goal of every Fordham
student to lend his or her name to a
special. All it takes is a piece of paper
and a marker to make someone's
dream come true by including them
in the fabric of Pugsley's.
Pete & Elda's in Neptune, New
Jersey, has a more direct way of
helping their customers cross into
the realm of fandom. They have a
special that rewards customers with a
free t-shirt if they can finish a XXL
18-inch pizza all by themselves. The
pizza is priced at $16.50, with the
cost of a t-shirt already built in. The
idea is not to make a difficult challenge but to send customers home

with wearable billboards. Shirt designs
change every few weeks, so there's a serious
incentive to come back for new editions.
The pizzeria recently debuted their 195th tshirt design and has sold out of all 200,000
shirts printed to date.
One of the strongest bonds I've seen
between pizzeria and customer doesn't
require signs or t-shirts. Brooklyn's Paulie
Gee's has cultivated some of the most
dedicated fans over its mere six years in
business. Paul Gianonne walks from table
to table to ask how guests are enjoying their
pizza. The act in itself isn't revolutionary,
but the depth to which Paulie engages
his customers helps them make the leap
into fandom. When he engages customers
about their hometowns, favorite music, and
other pizzerias, they get a glimpse into how
deeply he cares without having to hear it
out loud. In one online review, a customer
raves about how Paulie offered to personally
curate his group's entire order. Their review
ends with a line that really sums up their
entire experience: "I'm going to run for
vice president of the Paulie Gee fanclub."
Is there any better marketing than an
unsolicited endorsement like that?
Think of your favorite pizzeria (not
including the one you operate). When
someone says they want to check it out,
you encourage them. When they're named
on a list of top pizzerias, you take it as a
personal victory. When someone complains
about a bad experience, you suggest they
give it another try. Customers buy food
but fans proselytize about it. That's not the
kind of advertising that can be bought, but
it's clearly the most valuable. Think about
what you can do to convert your customers
into fans so you can help them help your
business. ■
SCOTT WIENER owns and operates Scott's Pizza
Tours in New York City.

By JOSH KEOWN


http://www.PIZZATODAY.COM

Pizza Today - May 2016

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pizza Today - May 2016

Pizza Today - May 2016
Commentary
Contents
Contributors
Expo Spotlight
Interact
Conversation
Man on the Street
Respecting the Craft
Trending Recipes
Destinations
Dough Doctor
Liability Issues?
The Grandma Pie
Lowering the Sodium
Trending at International Pizza Challenge
First Steps to Selling a Pizzeria
The Fast-Casual Pizza Players
Indies in Fast Casual
2016 Pizza Expo Wrap-up
Pizza Today on the Road: Slyce Pizza Bar, Tampa, FL
Product Showcase
Pizza Today Yellow Pages
The Marketplace
Reader’s Resource
Snapped
Pizza Today - May 2016 - CT1
Pizza Today - May 2016 - CT2
Pizza Today - May 2016 - Pizza Today - May 2016
Pizza Today - May 2016 - Cover2
Pizza Today - May 2016 - Commentary
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 4
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 5
Pizza Today - May 2016 - Contents
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 7
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 8
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 9
Pizza Today - May 2016 - Contributors
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 11
Pizza Today - May 2016 - Expo Spotlight
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 13
Pizza Today - May 2016 - Interact
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 15
Pizza Today - May 2016 - Conversation
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 17
Pizza Today - May 2016 - Man on the Street
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 19
Pizza Today - May 2016 - Respecting the Craft
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 21
Pizza Today - May 2016 - Trending Recipes
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 23
Pizza Today - May 2016 - Destinations
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 25
Pizza Today - May 2016 - Dough Doctor
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 27
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 28
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 29
Pizza Today - May 2016 - Liability Issues?
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 31
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 32
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 33
Pizza Today - May 2016 - The Grandma Pie
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 35
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 36
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 37
Pizza Today - May 2016 - Lowering the Sodium
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 39
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 40
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 41
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 42
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 43
Pizza Today - May 2016 - Trending at International Pizza Challenge
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 45
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 46
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 47
Pizza Today - May 2016 - First Steps to Selling a Pizzeria
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 49
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 50
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 51
Pizza Today - May 2016 - The Fast-Casual Pizza Players
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 53
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 54
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 55
Pizza Today - May 2016 - Indies in Fast Casual
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 57
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 2016 Pizza Expo Wrap-up
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 59
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 60
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 61
Pizza Today - May 2016 - Pizza Today on the Road: Slyce Pizza Bar, Tampa, FL
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 63
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 64
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 65
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 66
Pizza Today - May 2016 - Product Showcase
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 68
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 69
Pizza Today - May 2016 - Pizza Today Yellow Pages
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 71
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 72
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 73
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 74
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 75
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 76
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 77
Pizza Today - May 2016 - The Marketplace
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 79
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 80
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 81
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 82
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 83
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 84
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 85
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 86
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 87
Pizza Today - May 2016 - 88
Pizza Today - May 2016 - Reader’s Resource
Pizza Today - May 2016 - Snapped
Pizza Today - May 2016 - Cover3
Pizza Today - May 2016 - Cover4
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