Good Day, I always love giving to others without really thinking about getting back. It has been apart of my nature since I was small, always trying to be selfless and think about the needs of my friends, family and even people outside my circle before myself. It’s a good feeling to have when you see the dividends of your labor even better when they show appreciation for the deed. As a thriving entrepreneur my end goals are to be an active philanthropist where the needs for our community within my country and a larger scale are met by not only myself but all who are willing assist as well. That’s why my initiative to learn more about and create a Pay it forward system in Trinidad and Tobago has led me to listening to this podcast. I saw this story a while back about a pizza owner in the states who had a pay it forward system where people buy a slice for a dollar there after they pay for someone else’ slice and leave a little message on a post it. It grew quickly, so much so the homeless got a free meal when they needed throughout the year. This is an interview between Cause talk radio which consists of both Megan Strand from Cause Marketing Forum and Joe from SelfishGiving and the man behind it all Mason Wartman owner of Rosa’s Fresh Pizza.
- Mason’s Background – 0:00
- When did he know that the program had taken off – 1:29
- How the system grew – 3:02
- Do most customers pay it forward? – 5:01
- Using Post-its and other Signage to make customers aware
without pressuring them – 5:53
- Replicating the Pay it forward system in other ways – 8:08
- How much has the pay it forward system impacted his success
as a business? – 8:43
- Can his system be used in a more upscale pizzeria? – 9:43
- Pay when you can vs a pay it forward system – 10:35
- What does the future hold for himself and his business – 14:34
- Getting in contact with Mason – 16:33
Key Points Taken
Worked at wall street and always wanted to start his own business.
The Startup was called Rosa’s fresh pizza which sold a slice of pizza for a dollar and its main customers were homeless. One day a person wanted to pre purchase a slice for the next homeless person that came in short, Mason created a post-it to remind himself and also introduced the idea to other customers. They liked it and he had a bunch of advanced payments and post-its for any homeless who came in for a slice in the future. Eleven months later the word of the selfless pay it forward system has spread and is now viral and has made him a very popular restaurant owner.
When did he know that the program had taken off.
Two months in he realized that the system was not a burden to his business expenses wise and it was helping a lot of the homeless. He plans to expand the business after hearing feedback from the homeless on how inefficient the feeding programs are around the city.
How the system grew.
Initially the post-it notes were kept away from the customers and was used as a method of accounting and proof of transparency for customers. Eventually the amount of post-its became too much for the area they kept them so he moved it to the eating area and kept track of it on the register (one button for paid slice and one for any slice that was taken via post-it). Then at then end of the day he adds up how many times each were hit to keep track. This process in place help the business in two ways:
1) It is an easy and reliable way to manage the sales and pay-it-forwards.
2) With the post-its on the wall of the eating area it raises awareness of the system to customers encouraging them even more to take part.
Do most customers pay it forward?
First time customers do and regulars but there are always some who came to purchase the pizza because its affordable and that is all they can spare at the moment He wants the program to be known but doesn’t want to pressure people into buying extra slices.
Using Post-its and other Signage to make customers aware without pressuring them.
He used signage such as a typed up letter at the counter and the post-its to advertise the cause but not have it be forced upon. Most of his customers are ones on the struggling end of the economy so to keep them comfortable its better just to have them come in and purchase their food and leave. Giving them the choice to add a dollar or not. So this brings up a good point of giving someone awareness of information, having them consume it but without having it forced upon them to act lets them make the decision to do so. This process should be done in a way also to pique someones interest in something, in this case the awareness towards helping the homeless is apparent to each customer.
Replicating the Pay it forward system in other ways.
Strip down a meal to be as basic as it can be so that its affordable and can be pre purchased. An example from Mason is a rice and beans special from chipolte, no increased capital needed and it increases sales because of the incentive of doing good.
How much has the pay it forward system impacted his success as a business?
Since the popularity of the pay it forward system he has been on many things one of which was the Ellen show. His business is more or less the last one standing in on his street, most of his neighbors have either closed down or have been gutted. Being a foot traffic business this would have eventually forced him to close as well but because of the popularity of his program its has gone very well in his favor.
Can his system be used in a more upscale pizzeria?
Depends on what you consider upscale, because no one will consider buying 1 dollar slice pizzas with a waiter service. This system caters more to items which can be sold at a cheaper cost, where the burden of buying another is not high. Offering an option on the side to give away for example Mc Donalds you buy a meal and have a side of fries for another person.
Pay when you can vs a pay it forward system.
Panera Cares is an organisation where you pay what you can when you have a meal and is more funded by donations, but they also try to have a line in the sand based on who can pay and who can’t. Some people have to pay the full amount or even more at times and others can pay next to nothing.
With the pay it forward system its simplistic all you need to do is either pay an extra dollar for a meal or not. There is no need to find out who looks like they should pay or not. There are too many more questions that need to be asked before charging someone for their meal, which over complicates the whole scenario of just feeding the less fortunate.
Another great bonus to Mason’s model is that you can immediately see who it’s helping. “Charity just like business should be very streamlined and simple, especially for something as simple as food.”
What does the future hold for himself and his business.
He wants to have more chains of restaurants with the pay it forward model and charge varied rates based on customer. Also have a more robust menu with more protein foods, but they all must be economical for his patrons.
Getting in contact with Mason.
http://www.rosasfreshpizza.com/ where you can buy a slice of pizza over the internet for someone, order pizza and buy t-shirts where half the sales funds go towards the homeless as well. You can buy a sweatshirt which will give a sweatshirt away to someone who is homeless. On the sweatshirt of the homeless recipient is a tag that gives them information on where he or she can get meals, shelter and computer classes.