Who Monetized the Cheese?

Pizza by avlxyzWhen you order a pepperoni pizza – how many toppings are you getting? Most say one, but I am quick to point out that you are getting two.

Like 60-70% of the world population (sources vary), I am lactose intolerant. I find myself at a disadvantage when I go out to eat with people and order a pizza because I am getting one fewer topping than everyone else. Most of the time I can talk a clerk into substituting pineapple or onions for cheese (pineapple and pepperoni > Hawaiian pizza). The logic is fairly simple: cheese costs more. I checked NetGrocer (because I don’t buy cheese) and mozzarella averages between $.34 and $.67 cents per ounce as compared to $.11 to $.13 per ounce for canned pineapple. But some times I get the anal retentive type who quotes chapter and verse of corporate policy and wants to charge me more for a less expensive pizza.

You would think that the people who would be most likely to make this error would be large chains like Domino’s, but I’ve actually had a lot of success with with their service staff because they do a high enough volume that they understand the margins (or it could be their training program or recruiting). Regrettably, the same can not be said of 5 Dollar Pizza, a small chain in the northwest suburbs of Minneapolis. I want to like their stores because it supports local business, the sauce is good, and I am a fan of their business model of creating competition at a lower price point. I’ve been there three times (I live in the southeast metro, so that should say something about my enthusiasm) and the first time I had no problems with the counter staff, but after my second and third visits proved unfruitful, I have no intention of going back.

The moral of this story is that guiding principles are more important than policies. For a pizza chain, the guiding principle might be “Provide awesome customer service that increases the company’s profit margin.” I think it behooves anyone in the position of setting policies to consider the potential for policies to get in the way of growing the business when applied indiscriminately. How many customers can you afford to turn aside in the name of rigidity? I think it’s also something for the service person to consider – What wiggle room should you ask for and when can you implement the “ask forgiveness instead of permission” maxim for innovators?

» Great article on pattern thinking

Epilogue:
I miss Pagliai’s Pizza of Mankato and their lunch special. They need to expand into the Twin Cities.

Photo by avlxyz