Know Your Business! Why Pizza Express Is NOT In The Pizza Business

At home my wife and I have three children under three years old. It’s mayhem. As any parent will know, sometimes you feel like you are barely in control – toys are everywhere, someone needs to go to sleep, someone needs waking up, someone needs a nappy changed and then one hits the other over the head and both start crying. And it’s only 8.30am.

It is so important to get out of the house and go somewhere and keep them entertained, and so at the weekend we have an increasingly regular habit of going to Pizza Express. This is a business that is totally geared up for our predicament.

For a start we can book a table for 11.30am. The two youngest kids need to have their day time sleep from 13.00pm, so eating at 12.00, or 12.30 is not an option. I do sometimes feel a bit guilty ordering a glass of Pinot Grigio when I can still taste toothpaste in my mouth.

The door opens and we are shown to the table we booked. It already has the two high chairs we requested and the waitress brings over a colouring book for each child and a big bucket of crayons for them to start drawing. Even Monty, our most lively, is quickly engrossed whilst we order our food.

We order the kids the same each time and they love it – because they know it all builds up to the ice-cream with chocolate sauce crescendo at the end! They get dough balls (which they devour) and then a mini ham and cheese pizza. And then along with their ice-cream they get a Bambinoccino – a mini cup with frothy milk and chocolate on top. They love it and feel very grown up.

Our kids never eat as well as they do at Pizza Express, and they are never as quiet and as well behaved as they are at Pizza Express. For my wife and I it is an hour when we can relax, enjoy each other’s company, and look on proudly at our collection!

And as I look up, around the restaurant I see this story replicated on every single table. It’s now 12.30, the place is full, and all around us are families with kids, and everyone is smiling – enjoying their ‘time out’.

Next door to Pizza Express is another Pizza restaurant. A local ‘authentic Italian’. We looked at the menu once, but we have never been, because we realised that we didn’t go to Pizza Express because of the Pizza (although I am loving the new Calabrese!), we went there because it gave our whole family some time out. Time to really enjoy each other’s company before we returned to the nappies, crying and occasional fights!

Action points

I would urge you to have a think about Pizza Express and then have a think about your own business. Try and separate the actual product you sell from the real benefit you provide to your clients. Have you spent too much time on the features and not enough on the real value that your clients can derive from working with you?

When I look at my company – yes we are a Cloud Service Provider helping people to move to Google Apps and Salesforce.com, but the real business we are in is in business process improvement. Helping clients sell more deals, of a higher value, in less time. Closing more support tickets on a first call. Getting employee’s expenses claims paid quicker. As long as we focus on making our client’s businesses more efficient and profitable then in turn our business succeeds.

Do you have any other examples of businesses who do this really well? Have you spent time looking at what your real business is?

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Charlie Cowan inspires and enables partners at NewVoiceMedia, a Salesforce Appexchange partner routing inbound calls based on CRM data. Unusually for someone in the IT industry, Charlie holds a degree in Rural Land Management from The Royal Agricultural College. He lives and works in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, with his wife and three children.