An interview with Detroit Style Pizza / Shawn Randazzo

Acclaimed champion pizza maker, pizza acrobat, and pizzeria consultant Michael Shepherd has earned worldwide accolades for his skills. Based in the small town of Bellefontaine, Ohio, Michael has proven you don’t need to be in a large metro market to grow a million-dollar pizzeria. His own pizzeria, Six Hundred Downtown, is one of the most popular in the state; he also consults other pizza makers with his Growing Pizza business. I had the pleasure of meeting Michael through industry events, and he later granted me an interview to lend insight into how he’s been able to grow a million-dollar pizzeria from scratch. 

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Smart Pizz Marketing Podcast: SPM #9: From Failing Pizzeria to World Pizza Champion with Michael Shepherd

oday I got the chance to sit down and talk with 4 time world pizza champion Michael Shepherd. If you are familiar with any pizza trade magazines or show then you have definitely heard Michael’s name before.

We talk about how he went from talking over a failing pizzeria to becoming a 4-time world pizza champion and where he thinks this industry is headed.

He also tells us how his first trip to Italy to compete he place 49th out of 50 yikes. and what made him go back to try again and what happened when he did (hint it’s in the title).

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Five habits of highly unprofitable pizzerias

Last year at the 2014 International Pizza Expo I gave a seminar on how to hit a 20 percent profit margin, which I will be doing again in 2015. I felt that it was important to discuss and share with others how to do so in light of the fact that I recently had found out that the industry average was a mere 7 percent. At the three pizzerias that I have owned over the last 18 years I have routinely generated 15 to 25 percent profit.

A 7 percent profit would mean for every thousand dollars in pizza sales you would only get to take home $70. Wow! I mean, who in the world puts their heart and soul into a business that can’t support itself? Sadly, more people than I ever expected. Over the course of the last year I have worked with many clients of my consulting business that have been struggling to be profitable and I believe I have determined the common factors that run through these unprofitable operations.

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Don't Shame Me Into Buying Local

Don't Shame Me Into Shopping Local, Make Me Want to Shop Local

As someone who has operated small pizzerias in small towns for the past 18 years I totally understand the importance of keeping and spending dollars locally. Additionally, in my humble opinion it is even more important to spend your money with independent locally owned businesses. Supporting locally owned independent businesses keeps the highest percent of dollars in the community and the more money that stays local - the stronger the community.

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Portion Control = Cash Control

Why bother with portion control? Well, do you like money? Implementing a simple and concise portion control program can literally save you tens of thousands of dollars, not to mention that it will also make your product consistent and simplify training. Let's start by looking at the cost savings benefits of a potion control program. 

So how exactly will it save me money? You will eliminate putting

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Taming Online Reviews

Finding a great dining destination has never been easier than it is today with a slew of restaurant locator and review apps for your smartphone. A couple taps using Yelp, Around Me or Urbanspoon and you know instantly what restaurants are nearby. Better yet, you can see reviews of these restaurants from other diners and be able to make an informed decision on where you will be spending your hard earned money.

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A Case for Using One Vendor

I have made so many dumb mistakes over the course of the last 12 years I have been in business that I have stopped counting. Some so bad that I will never admit to them. But learning from these mistakes is what has helped me build my business from a struggling no name pizza shop to a “World Famous” million dollar pizzeria.

And one of the biggest mistakes I ever made was spreading my food purchases across numerous vendors trying to get the best prices.

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