Criminal Pizza

I was recently in Orlando for a conference and this was on the inside of my hotel door…

Pizzascam

I get it. It’s a bitch when you’re running the “official” pizza place inside the hotel and you have to compete with guys putting flyers under sleeping room doors, apps that let guests know there’s a cheaper or better pizza place next door, and other things that make it easy for people to get food that’s nor yours…

But don’t lie to people. And don’t try to scare them.

Neither will help your business survive in the long run. At best, you’ll only delay the inevitable. At worst, you’ll piss people off and they’ll go out of their way not to do business with you.

How This Plays Out (And How To Come Out On Top)

I know a guy who had a video rental business. From 1985 until 1999, he was making money hand over fist. However, even then, his business was dying.

Let’s call him “The Movie Man.”

The DVD player was the fastest-selling piece of home electronics ever. Because of this, the video rental business changed within a very short period of time. However, the Movie Man, because he was in a small town with people who didn’t seem to have the desire to upgrade, had a little more time than most before he was affected by the change.

But people did upgrade … eventually. So he did also. Fortunately, it was an easy transition. The only thing he had to do was replace the videotapes on his shelves with DVDs.

Then DVD-by-mail services, like Netflix, came along. They had a much bigger selection of movies and charged less than brick-and-mortar stores.

He lost a few customers, but very few of his customers had computers, so he lucked out — for a while. As more and more people started to get computers, he lost more and more customers.

Fortunately, he had something Netflix and the major stores didn’t: porn. And his tiny “Adults Only” room in the back corner kept the rest of the store in business — until his customers discovered the Internet was full of porn and it was a lot less awkward to get titles like “3D House of Boobs” online than from him.

Then Redbox and other automated kiosk services came to town. How do you compete with a service that costs as little as $1, has more locations than you do, and never closes?

His solution was similar to the Orlando pizza place — he used fear, telling people that those who used Redbox were at risk for identity theft. Most people aren’t idiots, though, and a lot of the ones who are will take convenience over risk, so he lost to Redbox anyway.

In the end, he was bringing in maybe $200 on a good night. Sure, there were people who were still interested in coming to a physical store for their movie rentals, but there wasn’t enough money coming in to keep the lights on, employees paid, and the racks filled with the latest releases.

Does This Sound Like You?

You may be extremely skilled at marketing or work in a business that hasn’t been as affected technology, low-cost options setting up next door, or whatever else everybody else seems to be dealing with. You will be affected eventually, though.

Change isn’t something to be scared of; just be aware. Had the Movie Man been paying attention to the shift in his industry, he could have sold his retail store and gotten in on the automated kiosk business. Instead of the situation that ultimately put him out of business, he likely would have been making more money than ever.

The same thing applies to you. Sometimes the things that can crush you will be your biggest opportunities for growth.


Originally published at 23 Hours.

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