Most people open a pizza place because they think it is easy to make dough in the kitchen and the cash register. However, ask people who spent six nights a week working in a hot kitchen for two years straight if they still feel good about their decision. Running any restaurant is harder than it looks, and pizza places face a lot of competition. But it can be done if someone thinks through the entire process before turning on the ovens for the first time.
Decide on a name for the restaurant, a logo and how you plan to make the restaurant different. Will there be 30 kinds of pizza? Will it be a build-your-own pizza place? Is the emphasis on cheap pizza? Authentic Italian? Buffet style? Non-pizza dishes? The key is to look for what works in the market as well as what's missing. If people are saying an area needs a Chicago-style pizzeria, then think about going that route. If take-out places keep going out of business, then avoid that.
Find a space to set up shop that has adequate seating, restrooms, convenient parking, an industrial oven or brick-fired oven (if that is the route you plan to go) and a large kitchen. While you want something in a high traffic area, also look for places in areas that don't have a lot of competition. One trick is to look up traffic counts through local county and state transportation departments. That way you can tell if a place is growing.
Work out deals with suppliers for things such as napkins, utensils, ingredients, condiments and the like. Most towns have a chamber of commerce than can point to local distributors or at least out of town ones that other restaurants use.
Secure a line of credit with a bank. Pizza places that deliver need a lot of steady cash as well as to fill the money drawer every night. That money needs to be coming in even on nights when things are slow. Also, make sure you have machines that can handle credit and debit cards.
Advertise and market your business. In most towns, simply opening the door—especially if it is not an established chain—won't bring people in. You need to create a brand awareness that will help people easily recognize your business. Target magazines, newspapers and websites that cater to your demographic.
Hire a staff that will work hard. Most pizza restaurants will employ family members to start because they know there is loyalty. Food industry jobs generally have a lot of turnover. With that in mind, make sure you trust the person handling the money each night in order to make sure funds are not being misspent.
Keep an eye on inventory and know your busy days. This will be tough at first as a business starts and client patterns aren't set. You and your staff will have to be prepped for rushes of customers that may not come. Be prepared to lose money early on because you will be throwing out ingredients at the end of the night. It will get better over time.
Train your staff to do more than one thing. If your pizza place's biggest seller is the old family recipe that only you know, what happens when you take a day off? Will first-time customers still like the pizza made by the kid whose main job is to clean the toilets?
Make sure that staff know their schedules and have an easy format to call in if they can't make it. Also, make sure staff have your contact numbers in an emergency.
Never have something on the menu that you can't serve. If you promise yellow peppers, then there better be a stock of them in the back or a quick way to get more if needed.
Know your customers. If you are a manager or the owner, make sure to check with customers to see how they are doing. While some may feel bothered, most will enjoy being talked to while they wait for their order. Make sure your wait staff knows that the customer is important as well.
Keep your staff happy. Making sure they have sufficient breaks and feel important to the business is vital. Happy workers make happy customers. If you have a lot of students for employees, make sure they have time to study. Also, look for ways to help them break up the monotony of day-to-day work such as contests.
Think ahead. Companies such as Little Caesars and Papa John's didn't grow by accident. Their owners planned to expand. Make sure condiments and napkins are refilled at tables before each shift. Don't overlook small things such as dusting and cleaning light fixtures and decor. Dust can scare off customers.
Be prepared for hard work. There will be many long nights of toil in the kitchen in order to make a profit.