After studying the Google satellite map of your area, here are some of my impressions:
- Your location looks convenient and accessible.
- Judging by the apparent size of your space (from overhead), as well as the bench out front, I'm guessing there is no dining room.
- Looks like there should be decent exposure to traffic, with the shopping center across the street. Especially with the Kroger there.
- It looks like it should be relatively easy to make left turns into your parking lot.
- Alcohol next door. (Alcohol and pizza tend to go very well together, and every liquor store customer should at least notice your presence.)
- There's room out front, by the road, for someone to hold up a sign announcing your "special of the moment" when business is dead (most likely during typically slow periods, like 2-4 pm). Or just someone dancing around in a pizza slice costume once in a while so people will know you're there.
You want to try to get large catering orders during weekday lunch. Like for monthly employee meetings at car dealerships and stuff like that, where you'll be selling 10 or 20 pizzas, a huge container of salad, several 2-liters of pop, etc. (Don't confuse my use of the word 'catering' with actual catering, because 'catering' in the pizza industry basically just means large orders, packaged and priced for a specific quantity of people, then delivered.) You need to create catering-related marketing materials to give to businesses, then you have to find these places and get your materials to the right people (usually receptionists). And while you're there, give them your latest fliers and coupons, with coupons for both individual and group-sized lunch specials. Because these coupons will be used, but only if these materials are there for mechanics and parts drivers and salesmen to see.
And remember this: You get to decide what the coupons say. I'm not telling you to make ridiculous lunch specials. If you want, your coupon can offer something without even decreasing the price. It's the dotted line that does the trick, not necessarily what's inside the dotted line.
The chains can offer ridiculously low prices (which are still higher than yours) because:
- Chains use mostly cheap ingredients.
- Chains get their ingredients for much better prices than you'll ever get because they buy their ingredients on a massive scale.
- Chains pay minimum wage and place ridiculous demands on their employees.
- When employees can't quite meet the time demands of customers, it's not a huge deal because chain customers are loyal.
- The chains have figured out how to be a lot more efficient than you'll ever be. They have expensive special equipment, commissaries, and other efficiency tools that will never be practical or affordable for you.
In other words, their costs are a lot lower than your costs (and always will be). You cannot compete with the chains.
Looking at the big picture, the one thing that stands out to me (and keeps standing out) is that your low prices are killing you (or will kill you). To survive with those prices, you'll have to sell hundreds of pizzas every day. That's not gonna happen. And if it ever does happen, it'll drive you and your staff nuts. You'll have such a high turnover of staff that you'll constantly have to be hiring and training new people, which takes a lot of time and costs a ton of money.
Right now Pizza Amore is just another supplier of cheap pizza; even cheaper than cheap pizza. At least that's how people see it. And the only reason they see it that way is because that's what you're showing them. One great thing about operating an independent pizzeria, rather than franchising a chain, is that you get to make your pizzeria unique or better than the chains. You get to create your own specials or choose not to offer certain specials. If you put in enough thought, you get to serve a market that has not already been tapped. You can't beat the chains at their game, but they can't even try to compete with you if you play your own game. Their bosses won't let them.
You created an opportunity for yourself to play by your own rules, but instead you're playing by the chains' rules, which they get to rewrite whenever they want. If you keep playing their game, you won't be in business very long.
$5,000 in monthly sales would scare me. It would tell me I'm not getting paid this year. Even worse, it would tell me it's gonna cost me money to work this year. It would tell me I'm doing something wrong. It would tell me I need to change what I'm doing wrong.
This much is clear: Something is wrong. You seem like a nice guy, so service is probably not what's wrong. Location doesn't seem to be what's wrong. Based on very little evidence, food quality doesn't seem to be what's wrong. Still, something's wrong, and everything seems to point toward your low prices and the position you've chosen to place Pizza Amore within the local pizza market.
Your low prices are killing you, in more than one way. As a business owner, no one else is gonna change that for you. You have to change it yourself. But you also have to understand why you might change your prices. You have to understand why you give certain items certain prices. You have to constantly focus on figuring out what you may be doing wrong, then start doing it right.
Success in the pizza business is a choice.