Pizza-making and technology: Is it a love affair?
There is a famous saying that every company is a tech company. I realized how powerful this was after I had a meeting with Little Caesars CEO Banu Arıduru. Pizza and technology seem like an odd couple, but in reality, they are a very good match. The reason why you would think that pizza-making has nothing to do with technology is the fact that pizzas are best when they are handmade. And we always think that when technology is involved, food would be more artificial. But Arıduru thinks otherwise.
She had been working in the industry for a long time before joining Little Caesars. So, she already knew what was missing, a combination of the taste of the handmade pizza from natural ingredients and the heavy use of technology for customer satisfaction.
The pizza you eat is the end result of a long process. First the ingredients have to be harvested, prepared and transported physically to the restaurants. Little Caesars, for example, is a chain of 90 restaurants. Some 65 in Istanbul and the rest are all around Turkey. For this to happen, you would need to know how many kilograms of each ingredient need to be used every day at each of the location. You should be able to track the logistics chain and must never break the cold chain from the farm to the fork. Each day the pizza dough has to be prepared by hand. For this to happen, you need to know how many pizzas you will be serving every day. You must know how many of those will be regular, how many would be large, how many would have a delicious side (a Little Caesars specialty), etc. Then there is the cooking. The oven should be so good that it would bake different pizzas in the best possible condition. Then there is the human resources’ aspect. You must know how many people can prepare the orders of the day. How many couriers you would need at every location to deliver the pizzas at less than 30 minutes at all times. If you don’t know these at the beginning of the day, you would be losing money at the end of the day. Also you have to teach your employees about the new offerings and provide them with opportunities for self-growth. It is done by the Caesars Academy e-learning platform. There is also the digital marketing side of all this. You have to receive as many orders as possible with a limited budget, which means that you have to know your audience very well. Should you put your budget on Instagram or Google AdWords, or should you depend more on programmatic buying? For example, Digital advertising investments constitute 60 percent of all advertising budget for Little Caesars.
This is a huge market. The whole, out of home consumption, is at 55 billion Turkish Liras. The fast food sector that includes pizza restaurants is at 17 billion liras. Pizza alone is at 2 billion liras. And it is growing.
The rival pizza chains also invest in technology. Dominos is well-known in that manner. Especially in the U.S. market both Dominos and Little Caesars are competing to become the most innovative fast food chain, very aggressively.
Let’s hope that CEOs like Arıburnu, with their love for the business and devotion to innovation, keep on transforming our experiences to have a satisfactory meal.