Crisis Communication for Super Bowl Pizza

Being the pizza loving college students that we are, we took our handy-dandy coupon and pre-ordered our Super Bowl pizzas to be ready at 6 pm.

At 6:00 we pull up to the pizza shop to find two firetrucks outside with lights flashing and all of the employees standing in the parking lot. We decided that was the wrong moment to try to figure out what was happening. So frustrated that we couldn’t get pizza from somewhere else, we ran down to the grocery store for some frozen pizzas.

At about 6:20, phone calls finally made it through. The shop’s deep fryer had “exploded” but our pizzas were ready, just not our jojos. So we arrive back at the shop to see all of the employees in an understandable frenzy. The girl at the counter, is immediately defensive to every customer basically scolding everyone that they can’t make chicken or anything in the fryer (not once saying I’m sorry or acknowledging the inconvenience to the customer). She takes her time getting our already made pizzas, taking our coupon and all the while she is talking to another girl who is loitering at the counter about how the owner is coming in and everyone is probably going to be fired.

We left the place angry. With pizza, but angry at the poor experience.

Ok small pizza shop owners, the following is FREE advice on keeping customers from getting ticked at you.

  • Accept that things will happen when you don’t plan on them. No one expected the fryer to “explode” (the exploding part still has me puzzled because with their open kitchen set up I could see said fryer and it appeared normal and there was not fire damage or extra amounts of grease around, but I’ll go with it since there were two fire trucks). If you have any equipment at all, eventually a piece will breakdown at an inconvenient time. Care for your equipment properly and train your employees on how to deal with bad situations before they happen.
  • The fryer exploded. They called the fire department. Good safety move. When you get back in, make a sign explaining that no chicken, jojos, etc can be made. That will save the number of times you have to tell people, the extreme defensiveness in the employee’s explanation, and people wanting chicken or jojos can leave as soon as they see the sign and get it somewhere else, as opposed to standing in line to wait and be told 10-15 minutes later.
  • People ordered food that you can’t make. Call them! Yes, there was one girl on one phone calling about 100 people. This is where you use any available phone and call, ASAP. Calmly explain what happened and apologize that you cannot fill their order. May I say it again, apologize. People want to at least feel like you wish you could have made their food.
  • People are picking up partial orders that are now cold from sitting on a counter while the firemen checked the place out. Yes, pizza can be reheated so that is not a big deal. But several people (including us) could not pick up their pizzas at their scheduled time. If they pay with a coupon, give them the coupon price and give them back their coupon, it’s not a big loss and it makes people happier.
  • At all times: never, ever complain about your boss being angry in front of customers. They like your boss better than they like you. The boss runs the pizza place, you just work there… and maybe not even for much longer.
  • At all times: never ignore the customers to talk to someone about your personal life. They don’t like waiting on you to finish a story before being served. Especially when the national anthem to the Super Bowl is already being sung and they want to just get their cold pizza and go home.

Tips: Have a contingency plan for equipment failure and post it for employees. Don’t under-staff on usually busy days.


One thought on “Crisis Communication for Super Bowl Pizza

  1. Interesting read, and good advice for ALL types of businesses. Based on your location and the description of the girl at the counter I know exactly what pizza place you’re talking about. I used to love their food, but it got to the point where I would make my fiance go in to pick up the order because the girl at the counter always grabbed my hand and touched my ring. Not exactly that brand recognition they were probably going for…

Leave a Reply