Expert Advice and Opinions
Capitalize on NCAA March Madness
By Jeremy White, Editor in Chief

Every March, you can count on two things: hordes of college students flocking to the beach for Spring Break and sports fans tuning in to the college basketball playoffs. March Madness has gotten so big that even those who aren’t inclined to follow sports participate in the requisite office pool. Case in point: the Pizza Today office in Louisville, Kentucky.

When myself and a co-worker organized a tourney pool last year and opened it up to both employees and spouses, I expected maybe 8-10 people to get involved. We’re a small staff, after all, and many of my cohorts aren’t sports fanatics. To my surprise, we had more than 20 people in the pool.

The point: March Madness is big. Real big. The question: how can you capitalize on it in your pizzeria?

Let’s start with the obvious. If you have televisions in your shop, make sure they are going to be tuned to the games, which usually begin around noon and run late into the night during the first two rounds of the tournament. Create a “college basketball special” by offering a large specialty pizza and a pitcher of beer (or soda) for dine-in. Take out advertising in the sports section of local publications or during sports programming on radio outlets to let fans know you’ll be showing the games. If you are a delco unit, bundle an appetizer, pizza and two-liter at a price that will encourage orders.

I’m sure you’ve already thought of this. What you may not have thought of, however, is that you can use March Madness as a way to motivate and reward staff, too. Have staff members fill out their brackets and reward the eventual winner with a prize, such as movie tickets or sports tickets. Implement an upselling “tournament” where the employee who successfully gets the most add-ons and extras receives a cash bonus or gift cards to other restaurants, retail outlets, etc. If you plan in advance, you likely can trade $25 or $50 gift certificates with other merchants. Swap with a bookstore, for example, and that $25 gift certificate ends up costing you about $5 in food costs. Not a bad deal.

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