5 Things You Need To Know Before Selling Pizza by the Slice

Posted by Brandon Tucker

Brandon was the Marketing Content Specialist for SpeedLine Solutions from 2019 to 2022. He ensured the content we provided was the top-notch quality we are known for by staying up to date on industry trends, tips, tricks, and best practices to help our customers' businesses grow.

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The rise of the by-the-slice pizza model has been prevalent in the U.S. for a while now, with New York City having over a thousand of these fast-casual pizzerias alone. If you're considering opening a "slice shop" or looking to include this service in your current operations, you'll want to know everything you need about selling pizza by the slice; that's why we've put this post together for you. 


1. Your Display Can Make or Break Your Sales

In a full-service pizzeria, your menu photos will be the only chance customers can see your food before eating it. At a by-the-slice pizzeria, your food is displayed for all to see, and how you do it will be crucial to the success of your restaurant. 

Let’s start with the basics; clean your display well and frequently! Smudges and grime on the glass display or congealed cheese and dried sauce on the shelves will be the quickest way to make your food less appealing. 

You’ll also want to invest in sufficient lighting within the display. How the light shines on your pizzas will significantly impact your sales since color and gloss are customers' most significant visual cues. Warm (slightly yellow) white light is ideal for pizza, so try looking for some display lights that shine at around 3,000K. 


2. There’s a Sweet Science to Finding the Best Slice Price

Many restaurant owners are drawn to a by-the-slice model because it appears more profitable than a traditional pizzeria. The average cost of a standard NYC 18-inch pizza is $17. Still, the average price for a single slice is $3.14, which means that the 10 slices you usually get from an 18-inch pizza can easily net you over $30 - nearly double the revenue for the same amount of pizza sold. 

But what do you charge for a slice at your shop? Charge too much, and you’ll struggle to stand out amongst the countless cheap by-the-slice pizzerias in the area, but charge too little, and you might not be taking full advantage of the beneficial price model in a slice shop. 

Figure out your food cost for each of your pizzas, divide it by a per-slice basis, and then multiply this number by a predetermined markup. For an entire pizza, the average markup hovers around 600%. But we’ve already covered that single slices come with a higher markup, so it’s pretty common to see per-slice pizzerias charging an 800-1000% markup. Regardless of whether you want to be known as a cheap or a luxury option with a higher slice price, the first step in determining what to charge should be calculating your food cost.


3. Timing is Everything

Unless you operate like a Little Caesar’s, the standard pizzeria will make pizza to order. But when it comes to operating a slice shop, the common practice is to make the pizzas beforehand so that they can be ready as soon as a customer orders. However, you don’t want to make all of your pizzas just before the store opens because the visual appeal of your food declines after two to four hours under the heat lamp. 

An excellent way to make your food order-ready while maximizing its quality is to have your food ready just before the expected lunch and dinner rushes. Hitting this ideal prep schedule is much easier when using a point-of-sale system with an integrated prep planner


4. Your Supplies Will Be Much Different Than a Typical Pizzeria

The vast majority of the by-the-slice pizzerias tend to be takeout-only or offer minimal seating. Because of this, the supplies they require will be much different than that of a full-service or delivery-focused restaurant. 

Instead of paying for reusable plates, you can purchase a ton of disposable plates that customers are free to take with them out of the restaurant. And if you want to appeal to a younger customer base, you might want to use eco-friendly material for your plates

You’ll also be able to save on the endless stacks of pizza boxes that other pizzerias need to have on hand. Since your customers are likely only transporting a couple of slices at most, you can swap these bulky boxes out for some smaller and cheaper containers. 

While all restaurants need napkins available to their customers, a slice shop will have an even greater need for them. When customers are eating a slice, especially a classically large New York slice, the greasy mess is inevitable, so you’ll want to be handing out napkins two or three at a time with each order.


5. Be Prepared to Change the Menu Fast and Often

Typically, if you have a menu with 10 different pizzas and nobody orders one of them for a couple of days, it’s not the end of the world because you won’t have wasted any ingredients. But every pizza you offer is likely made daily at a by-the-slice shop. So if no one orders even just one of them, that’s a lot of wasted inventory

That’s why your menu needs to be able to adapt at a moment’s notice. If you’re consistently struggling to sell even half of your supply of a specific pizza type, it might be time to consider removing it from the menu or lowering the number of pies you make each day. 

Don’t be afraid to introduce new pizza types as well. Customers will be more willing to try a new flavor at a slice shop because they don’t need to commit to an entire pizza. And by offering unique combinations of pizza toppings regularly, you keep your customers interested and improve the chances that you’ll stumble upon a new bestseller. 

But whether or not the by-the-slice model appeals to you, knowing how to successfully make menu changes and create the most effective menu possible is critical. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive menu management guide.

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Posted on Wed, Jul 06, 2022 @ 08:07 AM.
Updated on July 6, 2022 @ 3:30 PM PST.

Tags: Menu Management, Menu Pricing, Pizza Industry, Pizzeria Owners

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