An interview with Detroit Style Pizza / Shawn Randazzo

From the Blog of Shawn Randazzo of Detroit Style Pizza -

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. 

Shawn Randazzo: You’ve been able to grow million dollar pizzerias in towns populated by fewer than 10,000 people and with minimal advertising budget. What’s the secret to building a million-dollar pizzeria from scratch?

Michael Shepherd: First off you need to have some patience. Slow growth is usually permanent growth. Grow too fast and you risk upsetting customers because you can’t handle the volume. Aside from that the number one thing to focus on is building word of mouth. Getting your name in front of people has gotten harder and harder. No one looks at the yellow pages, no one reads the newspaper, no one is listening to the radio, etc. Besides when people want to find a good restaurant to eat at they usually ask their friends for a recommendation. You need to be the place that they recommend, you need to be the place that everyone is talking about. You have to be something or have something that makes people want to talk about you, ask questions about you and seek you out.

You can’t usually expect to spend nothing on advertising in the beginning. It took me years to get to the point where I no longer spend much at all on marketing. My newest pizzeria is the only one that I spent almost nothing for advertising from day one.

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