09 December 2016

We’re back

Alena Tikhova

Alena Tikhova

CEO of Dodo Pizza USA

As you’ve probably already noticed, we disappeared from this blog for quite a long time. The reason is that we’ve been busy. Oxford is a college town in Mississippi where things get crazy during the fall. Students are back, and even more importantly, the football season takes off. Now it’s over, and we can finally catch our breath and sum everything up.

We started getting ready for the football season in the summer. There were three main areas we focused on: IT, production capacity, and the team.

Our website (dodopizza.com) wasn’t ready for the enormous amount of orders coming in at the same time (it happens right after the home game). Our IT team had to increase the capacity of the website so it wouldn’t crash during rush hours. The tracking system in the kitchen has also been improved significantly.

Each pizza order goes right to an iPad in our kitchen so that a pizzamaker can see what he/she is making. Half a year ago, our tracking system wasn’t fast enough. Things changed in August. Now we can choose several pizzas at a time and everything works so freaking fast!

In July, we bought new kitchen equipment for the kitchen. Before that, the main pizza table didn’t have a space big enough to fit a huge sauce pan. We also didn’t have a shelf for the pizza cutters. We had only one heated shelf for the ready-to-go orders (and used to run out of space often). Small things of this kind matter because they impact production speed.

We desperately needed more members to join our team. At the same time, the experienced people had to oversee the newcomers and take on extra responsibilities. In October, Jessica Perkins became our GM (general manager). Jessica joined us as a delivery driver, then she worked as a pizza maker and shift supervisor. Jessica has a lot of experience in the industry, working several years at Jimmy John’s and running her own restaurant.

In November, we implemented a new shift supervisor assessment form. The shift supervisor is a key position at the store because the overall success of an enterprise is based on the daily success of every single shift. Now the performance of each shift supervisor (we have five) is assessed four times a month by the GM. Each assessment is an opportunity to improve minor things that matter a lot in our business.

Now the results. On the busiest day of the season, we made almost one thousand pizzas.

Our sales in October were $42,000 with a resulting EBITDA of 19.5%. That’s a great surge compared to $31,700 in August.

(For more details, check this spreadsheet which we made for the purpose of managerial accounting.)

However, not everything turned out as well as we expected. We thought that the season would grow our client base significantly and we’d make more sales not only on game days, but on weekdays as well. That didn’t happen; our Mondays still bring us $600–800, as they did before. And all that despite the fact that students got back for their classes and the Oxford population almost doubled since July.

It makes us think that Dodo Pizza isn’t that popular among students (yet), and we have to work on that and maybe rethink our marketing strategy. Getting in the FLEX system might help. As we’ve learned, students tend to save cash to spend on recreational activities (e.g., bars) and spend only their FLEX money on food. So if you’re not in the system, you’re out of the game.

The general population can’t be disregarded either. We can’t say that every single person in Oxford knows Dodo Pizza. So we’ll have to cast our marketing net much wider.

What do you think we should do?

Actually, a few projects are already in the works. But I’ll save them for the next post (which is coming soon).

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