Small Business Loans for Pizzerias
Americans love pizza, and the average American will eat, on average, 6,000 pieces in their lifetime. The restaurant business may be tough, but pizzerias are thriving. Whether it’s the corner pizza place that’s been in the family for three generations, with red-checked tablecloths and old-fashioned coke signs, or the hipster place with buffalo chicken and avocado, there’s a pizza for every palate.
Even though several big chains like Dominoes, Papa John’s, or Pizza Hut, dominate big splashy ads, over 40% of all pizzerias are independently . Small business owners can make it and thrive in the industry, but to grow, they’ll need to learn how to market, strategically invest, and obtain capital.
What Do I Need to Qualify?
Below is a list of the requirements to get approved for business funding with our most basic program. There may be additional factors that are considered, meeting these three requirements though gives you a very high chance of having your application approved.
- At Least 2 Months in Business
- 500 Min. Credit Score
- $8,000 Min. Monthly Revenue
Types of Business Loans Available
After you’ve decided that you want in on the pizza industry’s predicted growth, where do you go to obtain financing?
1. Friends and Family
Borrowing from friends and family, or taking on a business partner in exchange for their investment in your business, is a tried and true way to fund growth. But it has risks.
Family members and friends might not have the capital available to invest and could resent being asked to invest. Borrowing from them could strain your relationships, especially if you struggle to repay the money. Or, they may want to offer input and make business-related decisions but lack the expertise to truly advise you on running a pizzeria.
A business partner, or borrowing from family in exchange for a cash infusion, may want to take on an active role in your business. Giving up equity always means giving up control, and an inexperienced partner can do more damage than their initial investment was worth.
Before giving away a slice of equity, think long and hard about the long-term impact it could have upon your pizzeria.
2. Bad Credit Business Loans
Business loans for bad credit serve a purpose in the lending marketplace. They’re often one of the easiest ways to access capital. Bad credit loans work with borrowers who don’t have great credit, lending to borrowers with credit scores ashttps://shieldfunding.com/bad-credit-business-loans/ low as 500. They can approve a loan in as little as 24 hours and disburse funds within 1-2 days.
Bad credit business loans aren’t just for borrowers with low credit scores, however. In the lending world, “bad credit” just means that you can’t qualify for a bank loan. Given bank’s high lending requirements, including two years in business, your inability to qualify could be completed unrelated to your credit score.
These loans can be a great choice for lower borrowing amounts, too. Maybe you only need $15,000 to buy a used pizza oven to support offering pizza delivery. Alternative lenders start lending at $5,000, unlike banks.
Banks prefer to lend in larger amounts because the cost to process and approve a loan application can be the same for a small or large business loan, but they make more money on a large loan. It’s simply not cost-effective for them to work with smaller borrowers. In general, alternative and online lenders have lower overhead than a bank. They don’t have to support brick and mortar branches, or pay bankers and other personnel costs.
Banks also tend to shy away from lending to restaurants, which have a high failure rate. Even though pizzerias are doing quite well, and are predicted to continue doing well, bankers will still consider them to be a restaurant. Alternative lenders approve a much great percentage of loan applications versus traditional banks, and they frequently work with borrowers in industries that banks avoid.
3. Small Business Loans
Banks and alternative lenders offer small business loans with favorable interest rates and terms, but you may find you prefer working with one type of lender over another. A loan product has a fixed interest-rate and fixed payments over the loan’s term, which makes budgeting for your loan payments easy and predictable. Interest rates and terms will vary depending on the lender and the loan amount.
Banks will make you go through their entire application and underwriting process for even small loans. You might have to gather a large amount of documentation, and they still don’t like working with businesses who have less than two years of operation. The approval process can be lengthy, though banks do tend to offer the best interest rates.
They also prefer to work with higher loan amounts to them a “small” business loan could be $50,000. Small business loans at Shield Funding, in contrast, can be taken out in amounts as low as $5,000. Their underwriters can approve a small business loan in 24 hours to 1-2 days, and funds can be disbursed shortly thereafter. They’re the better choice if you’re trying to take advantage of a time sensitive opportunity.
Underwriting for a small business loan takes less time with an alternative lender because they’re primarily concerned about your monthly revenues. Shield requires minimum monthly revenues of $8,000 and a minimum credit score of 500.
4. Merchant Cash Advance
Higher-end and specialty pizzerias that offer avocado, hand-tossed crusts, and more expensive ingredients also have a higher ticket. Their customers pay more for premium ingredients and atmosphere, and likely use their credit cards when paying. As recently as 2015, 80% of restaurant sales were run through credit cards, and that percentage has been growing.
This gives pizzeria owners access to a different type of funding; merchant cash advances. A merchant cash advance lends you money on the basis of future credit card sales. The lender analyzes your past few months of transactions to project future cashflow, and then lends on a portion of that amount. They collect their interest and principal by taking a percentage of every sale you swipe after taking out the advance until its been repaid.
It’s an easy way to get capital in a hurry, and you don’t have to worry about missing a loan payment. Before taking out a cash advance, however, calculate how much of your sales you can afford to send for repayment each month.
5. SBA loans
Small Business Administration or SBA loans are guaranteed loans offered by the government to support small business growth. You can apply through an approved lender or directly with the SBA. These loans come with stringent requirements, however.
Because they offer favorable terms and good interest rates, competition for SBA loans is fierce. They rarely approve borrowers with lower credit scores, and they prefer that your business has been in operation for longer than two years. SBA loans over $25,000 require that the lender take collateral, which you may not want to pledge.
Even if you meet their application requirements, applying for a loan takes a significant amount of time. You could have to pull together bank and credit card statements, two years of tax returns, personal financial information, a business plan, and more. You’ll have to complete a formal application, possibly with both the bank and the SBA. There is a lot of paperwork involved.
After applying for an SBA loan, it can take several weeks to months to find out if you’ve been approved. They could come back and request more documentation, or only approve you for a lower loan amount than you need. Many small business owners would rather not wait this long to possibly get denied for a loan.
6. Equipment Financing
If your expansion plan specifically involves purchasing new equipment, look into equipment financing loans. These loans typically have lower interest rates because the equipment they’re used to purchase also serves as collateral.
To qualify for an equipment financing loan you’ll have to give the lender information on the oven or freezer you intend to buy, and if it’s a particularly high-value item they could require an independent appraisal. If the equipment is worth a lot, the lender may not require a downpayment and might even finance its cost plus delivery fees.
Tips for Growing a Pizzeria Business
There are many paths to growing and scaling up a business, from marketing to expanding locations, or a combination of methods. When choosing the right path for your pizzeria, draw upon your years in the industry and knowledge of the local market.
Current State of the Pizzeria Industry
If you’re thinking of entering the business or want to expand your existing pizzeria, you’ll want to know the industry’s current state and where it’s headed. It’s one thing to open or expand a business in a strong sales environment, but you could fail in the long run if you don’t keep an eye on the future.
In 2018, pizza sales increased by 60.47% over the prior year. Independents and small chains brought in an $18.78 billion slice of the total pizza sales pie. While chains have added locations, fast casual and neighborhood restaurants have seen success expanding their menus into chicken wings, salads, and sandwiches. And they’ve needed to innovate to stay ahead of some of the industry’s pressures.
Today’s consumers demand fresh, high-quality ingredients, which have contributed to higher overhead and decreased profit margins. Rising labor costs and a shortage of good workers have also made it harder for smaller operators to keep their restaurants running smoothly, with 46% of pizzeria owners reporting that staff turnover increased significantly last year.
Sales are predicted to increase by 10.2% in North America over the next five years, to $50.7 billion. The rise of Instagram has exposed consumers to different pizza styles, from Neapolitan to Detroit, and allowed independents to carve out niches and grow.
Expanding to Grow
When you opened your first restaurant, did you dream of growing into a regional chain? Maybe you’ve been making consistent profits in the same store for decades, but finally want to increase your revenues. Expansion is one of the main methods that businesses use to grow.
Opening a new storefront represents a significant investment in capital costs. You’ll need new ovens, tables, and chairs, and might need to retrofit the entire space. The good news is that many landlords offer rent concessions or allowances for leasehold improvements to make it all possible.
When considering whether or not to open a new location, consider your available resources. Do you have the management in place to run the new restaurant, or take charge at your original location while you move to the new one? Will current revenues cover expansion costs before you can open? Put together a business plan and have an accountant and trusted advisors look over it before signing that lease. Don’t forget to include capital costs or the costs to take out a loan in your plan. It’s difficult to impossible to expand without borrowing.
If you’re not ready to add another location or expand your seating area, think about expanding in other ways. Add salads, hoagies, or chicken wings to your menu. Think about comfort food that often accompanies pizza and could be made in your existing kitchen, or with adding minimal new equipment. Add a service time, such as a lunch seating, or offer lunchtime delivery to local offices.
Whether it’s opening a second pizzeria in another part of town, or adding delivery, expanding wisely has the opportunity to push your business to the next level.
Marketing to Grow
Every business should have a marketing strategy. It’s necessary to both grow and maintain business and can increase customer loyalty.
Think about offering customer loyalty and rewards, which you can track through many online tools or paper punch cards to bring back customers and build loyalty. People love to get something for free, and even if you’re giving them the pizza, they’ll still buy drinks and sides.
Offer promotions, from combo sales to gameday deals. Two for one pizzas on football Sunday’s, or free delivery. Pair combo deals with new menu items to entice customers to try your new pizza bites or wings. Think about how you can use marketing and promotions to support your overall expansion or sales growth strategy. It’s not enough, however, to offer specials, you must let customers know about them.
Many “free” advertising channels are no longer free. Facebook has shifted to a model where people who “like” your pizzeria still won’t see your content unless you pay to promote it. And high-quality, professional food photography can make all the difference between an online ad that attracts or goes unnoticed. Investing wisely, however, to make sure your ads get in front of the right audience ensures that your marketing efforts will be a success.
Adding Digital Tools to Grow
Dominos has grown to dominate the chain industry largely in part to their digital tools. They were one of the first to offer online ordering and an app, so customers didn’t have to pick up the phone. Their online pizza tracker tells customers when their pizza is in the oven or has gone out for delivery. While smaller restaurants might not have the resources to build their own app, they can still add digital tools.
Yelp and other websites offer online reservation tools, tracking, and text message alerts to customers that help smaller businesses compete in the digital world. Gone are the days of noisy, flashing red buzzers. With a text message alert, customers can wander into the coffee shop next door and wait in peace. A website and online menus sound basic, yet many businesses still lack these simple selling tools.
Beyond the customer experience, digital tools can help pizzerias control and manage costs. Automating some of your back of house operations, such as inventory and label-making, can relieve staffing pressures and lead to efficiencies. Accurate inventory counts lead to less food waste and spoilage, for one. A new point of sale system, rather than handwritten order slips, cuts back on human error.
POS systems also support another pizza industry trend – that of customization. Millennials particularly like building their own pizzas, as well as adding dipping sauces and picking a crust type. Customization, however, increases the opportunity for error. Investing in a POS system protects against that error and keeps customers happy.
Why you Need Capital to Grow
No matter how good you are at saving money, existing revenues rarely generate enough extra cash to support growth efforts. Keep in mind that with many growth efforts, you must spend money before they generate income. You could have to pay rent before the new location opens, or purchase a new walk-in freezer months in advance to have it delivered on time.
Borrowed capital allows you to push your business to the next level. It pays the rent before the store opens, or purchases new equipment. Borrowing money supports growth efforts, and if you borrow money wisely, it pays for itself. A good rule to follow is that the rate of return on your investment, or how much you’ll make from the increased revenues, should be higher than your interest rate.
Look at borrowing as an investment in your future.
Tasty and Profitable
Operating a pizzeria can be both tasty and profitable, but if you want to take advantage of growth opportunities, you’ll need a great business plan and lending partner. Shield Funding has years of experience working within the pizza industry, and the loan products to help you grow. Reach out today to talk to one of our representatives about how we can help you build a delicious and profitable business.