Friday, February 27, 2009
As the economy continues to fall into recession, many companies must look at areas where they can cut costs. There are a variety of ways to reduce costs, and one of the more popular choices is to reduce labor to meet reduced sales. But companies have to be careful to balance costs with customer satisfaction. You can’t make cuts in areas that will reduce customer loyalty, so it turns into a balancing act for managers.
When it comes to delivering service, what is important to you? What would you sacrifice that would have little impact on you, and what is it that you just wouldn’t give up? History shows that recession-successful companies cut in areas that don’t impact customer satisfaction and that don’t sacrifice loyalty for short-term gain.
Lou Malnati’s has created a loyalty program that rewards customers. We want to make sure that our current customers are treated better than ever. In good economic times and in bad economic times our customers can count on great service and food quality. But what is important to you? What type of rewards would really make you feel special?
For more information on Lou’s customer loyalty program, please click on the link on the home page called Deep Dish Dough.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Why do you eat?
Most people eat for sustenance. When they get hungry, they go get food. Usually it fills people up and satisfies them in a totally incomplete way. Lately I’ve realized that although I enjoy food and the taste of it, I enjoy the process of it even more.
When I eat I want companionship. I want the food around me to take second place to the company I’ve surrounded myself with. Although food can tantalize in the most extraordinary ways, it always takes a back seat to my friendships and the people who take part in a meal with me.
Here at Malnati’s we strive to connect with our guests. Knowing who you are and what you need creates the kind of atmosphere for you sit back and enjoy a meal with friends. So come on. Take a seat at our table and let us fill you up. KS
Monday, February 23, 2009
What sacrifices will you make?
In President Obama’s inaugural address, he called on Americans to make sacrifices in order to get through these difficult economic times in our country. He asked for each one of us to stand up and take action. So, what does this look like to you; how can you sacrifice to help others in our country? With more layoffs expected throughout the nation in 2009, how can we make a difference?
There has been quite a bit of discussion on what workers are willing to do to help fellow employees as layoffs seem imminent in many American businesses. Would you be willing to take a pay cut or have your hours cut in order to save the job of a friend or coworker? Doesn’t it make sense for a company to temporarily cut wages for all employees by 10% instead of cutting 10% of the workforce? Yet, statistics show that this is not the case. Most employees when given the option do not support the idea, and businesses still chose to slash jobs over wage rates.
Is it really more disruptive and damaging to morale to lose staff instead of wages – even temporarily? If that is the case, then what sacrifice can you make to help others – and will you really do it?
Friday, February 20, 2009
How well do you dance?
Not only do we dance through life, but we dance well. We can Two Step around an issue, Waltz through a situation and Tango our way to an end result we’ve pre planned. Gliding and stomping our way to what we think we want, but dancing alone.
How often do we realize too late that any predicament is more palatable if shared? A judgment, a loss, a cause to celebrate; all of these things are likely to have more meaning if we open ourselves up to sharing and dancing with others.
It’s time to stop dancing alone. Don’t you want to feel people’s arms around you, and to know that if you leap you’ll be caught? Wouldn’t life will be better lived if we learn how to Square Dance. There’s a lot more people involved in the same steps. With every count you change partners and yet you end up where you started.
Working for Malnati’s is similar. We never have to be alone, and yet we can dance by ourselves until we figure that out. Malnati’s is like a never ending Reel that keeps investing in the dancers; waiting to be asked to dance. KS
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Marc Malnati vs. Bobby Flay
No. No, it was NOT a well-rehearsed or staged event when world famous chef and Food Network star Bobby Flay walked into our Buffalo Grove restaurant recently and challenged me to a “Throwdown.” We had been filming what we believed was a segment for a new Food Network show in production called “Pie Nation.”
I was doing a demonstration for about 100 of our loyal customers that had gathered to be part of the episode’s studio audience when Flay suddenly appeared. It turns out that the “Throwdown” crew of chefs had holed up at a hotel down the street days prior to the shoot, trying to develop a dough that would compare to Malnati’s. When the competition began, Chef Flay tried to produce a product with spicy sausage and broccoli that could out distance our famous, yet simple, cheese and sausage pizza.
If you had a chance to see the show, which aired in December, you already know how the pizza judges ruled at the end of the day. It was indeed a thrill for me and for our staff to compete at this high level, and to prove that nothing compares to authentic Chicago pizza! Marc Malnati
Monday, February 16, 2009
Accessing Lou's Information
In the age of technology, information is at our fingertips. We can get it from multiple sources, any time of day or night. So when you start craving a fresh, hot Lou Malnati’s pizza, where do you go for the phone number of the Lou’s pizzeria near you? We want to make sure that we have all our bases covered, and that you can access Lou Malnati’s information on all your favorite sources.
We received an email from a potential customer who said that because our web site isn’t optimized for iPhone searches, and because our locations aren’t on UrbanSpoon, we lost him as a customer. We don’t want to lose any customers, but we need your help in making sure you can access Lou’s info in all the ways you use. So tell us what you use. Do you use the yellow pages? How about a website search engine – and which one(s)? Would you be interested in ordering online, too – if so, which sites do you use for online ordering? Have you ever used Google text (46645) to find a phone number? Program us in as one of your “Fav-5”. Which of the many restaurant/entertainment sites do you use (like Metromix, CitySearch, Yelp, Chowhound, etc)? What are we missing?
We’d love to hear your opinions on how we can reach out to you and make it easier for you to find us.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Happy Valentine’s Day
Like most restaurants and retailers, when it comes to Valentine's Day we decorate, we advertise, and we try to think of creative products and promotions that our customers would like. Even with today’s economy commerce keeps its fingers crossed that an occasion like Valentine’s Day will help boost sales. But, somewhere along the way, as we try to take full advantage of the event, we might forget that Valentine’s Day is really just a day to take the time to tell your loved ones how special they are.
So, although we hope that you show your love by enjoying Lou Malnati’s heart-shaped pizzas with your friends and family, or by bringing Lou’s heart-shaped pizzas to your loved ones, we really want to take this opportunity to tell you that you are special. There are many ways we can show we care, and we hope this comes through by the way we treat our staff, our customers and each other. We value our customers, our employees, and our family, and we wish you a wonderful Valentine’s Day.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Delivery Tipping Etiquette
Do you think pizza delivery drivers are like your in-restaurant servers, and they should be tipped? How much? When researching tipping ettiquette for delivery drivers, we found many sites offering advice on how much to tip. Don't you think it should relate back to good customer service?
Should you tip a delivery driver for the same reasons you would tip a great server in a restaurant? Are they providing you with a service, and helping you have that great Lou Malnati’s experience, but this time in the comforts of your own home? Even though a small delivery fee is charged, this is only to cover a portion of the driver’s travel expenses (fuel, etc.) and the company’s additional costs for delivery orders. How do you feel about delivery fees? Do you think they are reasonable?
Lou Malnati’s believes that our drivers may be your “first impression” of our company. We hope that they bring the same level of service and quality to your front door that you would receive if you came in our front door.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Does this apron make me look fat?
One of our district managers worked in the kitchen on Super Bowl Sunday, and she wore an apron. Not a pretty, flowery apron. It was a red one; a plain, ugly, functional, red one. No pockets and no catchy phrase like “kiss the cook.”
As she tied it on she thought about the men and women who wear them every day in Lou Malnati’s kitchens. Every day they tie those ugly red aprons on without complaint. And with a positive attitude they make thousands of delicious handmade pizzas. None of them ever ask if they look fat. They smile, make jokes and talk amongst the rest of the staff. They work hard all week long making a product that has set the industry standards for over 30 years. Without these hard working, dedicated employees we would not have such a great pizza, or such loyal customers.
So, as she asked, “Does this apron make me look fat?” she realized that it really didn’t matter. She was proud to wear it alongside her staff.
Monday, February 09, 2009
Really? I have a choice?
So often we are faced with decisions in our daily lives. Regular or decaf? Try to beat the yellow light or sit through a one and half minute red? Call your Ex or sign up for Eharmony? Do something or do nothing? That last one always seems to slip under the radar of our consciousness.
When we do nothing, we convince ourselves that we haven’t made a choice at all. However, the opposite is true. Consider a situation in which you find out that a friend is stealing from the company you both work for. You have two choices:
1. Don’t tell your managers and watch them be constantly lied to
2. Tell them and risk the loss of a long time friendship
Stressed by the choices you face, you do nothing. You sit back and tell yourself that you don’t need to get involved; this is not your choice to make. But is that really the case? An outside observer can tell you instantly that in doing nothing, you have indeed chosen to do something – you have chosen to not tell the truth.
Such situations present themselves much more often than we believe both in large situations and small. So bear in mind that the next time you comfort yourself with the idea of doing nothing, really, you’ve made your choice.
Friday, February 06, 2009
Customer Service vs. Auto Attendant
Have you ever been lost in voice mail purgatory? You know – when you call a company and are greeted with an automated attendant that gives you 10 options, you push one only to get 10 more options, and so on. It is frustrating when you have a specific question, and the options offered don’t really meet your needs. Whatever happened to a live operator who can direct your call appropriately, and be the first impression of a company and its customer service policies?
Yes, maybe it costs less to pay for the automated attendant instead of an employee. Although there may be some argument for efficiency, it is doubtful that the customer on the other end thinks it is very efficient. There are some cases where it is great (airline flight info, banking balance and transfers), but when a company bases its business on customer service it is important to have a live person on the other end to greet and direct callers. In an age of technology advances, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Appreciating Your Job
In our Malnati 2009 Kickoff Meeting last week, I spoke about the importance of appreciating one’s job. It can become easy to take what we have for granted when we have always been employed, but in the midst of this particular economy I would not want to be on the outside looking in. I have several friends that are business owners who have been forced to shrink their workforce, and it has been painful for them to burn down what they have invested so much time in building. But that doesn’t compare to the people I know that are out searching for a company that is hiring.
One man who had been with his firm for 17 years, growing in stature and salary, suddenly lost his job. After two months of pounding the pavement, he has only been offered $8/ hour, and that with very part-time hours. Another real estate executive, who believed that he could hook on with another company at any time, has realized after eight months of interviews that he will be very lucky indeed to find anything this year!
It’s time to dig in, and bring fresh energy to your job, wherever it might be. I think that someone who understands the concept of being a team player, and also gets what it means to be willing to sacrifice for the greater good of one’s company, has a far greater chance of survival than those who do not. Marc Malnati
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Hope for 2009
Yesterday we held our annual manager’s meeting. Our president, Stu Cohen, went over the 2008 business results, and our owner, Marc Malnati, discussed 2009 goals. We all know that 2008 was a difficult year for many industries, and the restaurant industry was hit very hard. But Lou Malnati’s is fortunate to have loyal customers who continue to desire our quality product offered at a great value. Thank you loyal customers!
It is also because of our customers that we have hope for 2009. Even though the financial analysts are calling for continued economic struggles throughout the country, we have the desire and determination to weather the storm. We will continue to offer the qualities of product and services that our customers expect. We want to go the extra mile to make their experience at Lou Malnati’s the best it can be. We want to earn the trust and loyalty of each of our customers. In this time of economic doubt, what can we do new or better to keep them coming back to Lou’s on a regular basis?
Monday, February 02, 2009
Pizza arrived for the troops
The Super Bowl is over, and after a great game the Steelers came out as the champs. Most of us enjoyed a evening filled with friends, family, and food, hanging out on a comfy couch in front of a big screen television. Many of us probably took yesterday for granted.
Although we face danger and threats every day here in the United States, we are still fortunate enough to be able to venture out to the grocery store, or gather with friends to watch a football game without the looming aspects of war around us. Thousands of our fellow Americans are placing their lives on the line, and living daily in the midst of war defending the values and freedoms of the United States. We owe our gratitude to the many US men and women overseas who are fighting to protect us here at home.
Last week 2,000 pizzas were shipped to the Middle East for the troops to enjoy during the Super Bowl, and although it is far less than the thanks these brave men and women deserve, we hope that by providing Lou Malnati’s pizzas to the troops that we brought a small “taste” of home and a bit of comfort to those keeping us safe. And after a long journey the pizzas have arrived! We hope you enjoy the photos of the delivery as much as we did, and remember that not all of us were able to enjoy the comforts of home.