"The Pizzabilities are Endless"

Albert's Pizzeria

3. Good Health and Well-Being 16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Overview

The business introduced a program they call "Pay It Forward." Customers pay for a pizza box, at $15, decorate the box, and donate it to a cause special to their hearts. This draws people into the business, boosts positive advertisement, and allows the company to build a positive reputation, allowing the word of mouth to help further the reach of this outstanding program.

Authors

Allissiana Licata

Allissiana Licata

Guy LaCognata

Guy LaCognata

Divya Kundnani

Divya Kundnani

School

St. John's University

St. John's University

Professor

Charles Wankel

Charles Wankel

Innovation

The “Pay it Forward” campaign is a business innovation that has lifted its community, and has been very successful with many different people. How it works is, a person can purchase a pizza box for $15, and decorate it however they like. They are told to write a message, essentially to someone, but instead of using names, people write descriptions that can be true to someone’s life. This can be “To the Family of a Police Officer” or, “To A Fellow Marine,” and things of that nature. The message must be personal to your heart, and cannot involve politics. Once the box is decorated, it gets hung on the wall for all customers to see. The owner, or an employee, can nominate someone to be given a box. This can be through getting to know them, or already knowing them. After they are nominated, they are given the box, and they take a picture with the owner, who usually posts them to social media, to show people that “the little things in life make a big difference.” And then the cycle continues.

"The Pizzabilities are Endless"

Inspiration

The “Pay it Forward” campaign started the day after the Inauguration, January 21, 2017. Owner, Richard Baer said, “There was just so much hate going around, I couldn’t stand seeing people so at odds. I figured maybe I could do something to make a difference.” There was a lot going on in the pizzeria’s local community, such as the death of a police officer, hatred being spewed, and the diagnosis of cancer to a long-time customer of the business. The idea behind it was to promote love, and kindness. He also stated, “I want people to love and feel loved. If my pizza and my business can do that? Well, then it’s a no brainer, of course I’m going to do just that!” There is so much evil, unjust, and hardship in the world, and even in this community, that small things, like a free dinner, can mean the world to someone who is having a bad day, going through a rough patch, or even missing a loved one. “You’d be surprised how emotional people get, it makes me feel like I’m doing my part in this world, even if it is just small differences, after awhile, they start to add up!” exclaimed Baer.

Overall impact

This campaign has helped boost town spirits, promotes the wellbeing of other people, tries to bring peace amongst all, and generates love to everyone. It has spread like wild fire, has built the company’s reputation up, and has touched the lives of so many, including the owner, who finds such passion and joy in this. “I didn’t promote it at all, I would post pictures of me and the people who received the boxes, for my friends and family, but I didn’t think it would get this kind of recognition. People just started posting on their own, and the rest is history, I guess.” Baer added as we sat in a booth near the window of his pizzeria. I asked him if he could pick one story that touched him the most, and he just could not answer, he said “I cannot describe the feeling and emotion I get to receive from people through this campaign, I cannot even pick one story that would be my favorite, I just love the emotion I get to feel from different people, because that is something you don’t get to experience often.” He expressed how he felt when it came to emotions. He said, “A lot of the time, we don’t see the softer side of people, we see the feelings they want us to see, a lot of the time, it’s in passing. So, even if just for a moment, I can get someone to show that vulnerable and humane side of them, then that just makes it worthwhile. I have done my job.”

Business benefit

The business has seen an increase in sales, as well as an increase in social media awareness. So many people post their stories on various social media platforms, which spread the innovation, for free, to so many people, which is how I found out about this amazing campaign. Richard noted, “I didn’t expect it to pick up so quickly, people were just spreading the word, like wild fire! It was amazing. Old customers, our regulars, were excited, and a flurry of new customers, who are now regulars, were all coming in to see what we were all about.” There has been an increase in employee morale, and it makes running a business a lot easier. Smiling, Baer added, “My employees are loving it. They get to see the person who creates the decorated box, and they also get to see where that box eventually goes, and it truly moves them, I’ve seen.” There are more aspects of running and managing a business than just the sales, the work environment, and the attitude of the employee makes all the difference. Sometimes, that environment, and those employees, can make all the difference when it comes to a successful business. “Sure, the campaign has been very good for business, it brings customers in to purchase their own dinner, and purchase a box, that will eventually be given to someone else. I’ve also noticed that people like to come here because we do good, it makes them feel like a part of it, even if they aren’t necessarily buying a box every time they come through the door.”

Social and environmental benefit

This innovation has the local society thriving, and happy. Richard thoughtfully noted, “A lot of people walk through the door very happy, if they seem down and out? Well, we try and find a box that fits them that they can be nominated for. Sometimes, if someone is having a really bad day, and a box doesn’t fit them, I’ll buy one on the spot, and nominate them for it. At the end of the day, this helps my business, yes, but it isn’t always about the money. Money definitely doesn’t solve everything.” And I couldn’t agree more! This campaign spreads love and kindness to everyone, especially to people who may really need it. It has helped the environment around them, by putting forth a positive message, in hopes that it will compel people to do good things on their own, and not by just donating a pizza box to someone. Baer stated, “Doing good can be buying a pizza box, it can also be holding a door for someone, or offering a smile to someone who looks down. It can be small, it can be big like paying for someone’s groceries.” There is hopes to bring this innovation even further, to its sister stores, and hopefully to different businesses, hopefully promoting nothing but positive living.

Interview

Richard Baer, Owner

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Albert's Pizzeria

Ronkonkoma, NY, US

Business Website: http://www.albertspizza.com/index.htm

Year Founded: 2017

Number of Employees: 11 to 50

Albert's Pizza is located in Ronkonkoma, New York, and has three sister stores. They are situated on a busy street in the heart of their town, and cater to the whole community. They are rooted in family, and pride themselves on caring for others.