Keep It Simple, Stupid: Business Lessons From A Pizza Box


Susan Payton

April 14, 2016

There’s a pizza joint in San Diego called Bronx Pizza. They don’t deliver and they don’t take credit cards. They don’t sell garlic knots or wings. In fact, their menu is extremely simple: pizza slices, whole pizzas, and calzones. They only offer one size of pizza.

It doesn’t get simpler than that. Here’s what they’ve got at the bottom of their menu:

We’ve done our best to keep things simple around here. Easier for you … easier for us. All our pies are the same size … 18 inches, 8 slices a pie. One pie will feed 3-4 people.

Facts to keep in mind while ordering:

  • Cash only! No credit or debit.
  • We don’t offer ham, chicken, pineapple, jalapenos or Canadian bacon as toppings.
  • That’s ricotta cheese on the white pies, not feta.
  • We keep our salads, as well as the ranch dressing, at the supermarket down the street.
  • Please don’t ask for buffalo wings.
  • No slice orders over the phone.

As I drove across town to pick up a pizza (Yes, it’s that good!), I started thinking about the simplicity of this system. Bronx Pizza doesn’t need to get fancy. They have simple and amazing products, and they are unapologetic about their system. We could all stand to learn a lesson from them.

Here’s a KISS for You

We’ve all heard the advice to ”Keep it simple, stupid.” But how many of us actually apply it to our businesses? It’s easy to get trapped into thinking that we’ve got to continually increase the complexity of what we’re doing. In fact, complexity only brings chaos.

Here’s an example: McDonald’s has tried over the years to overly complicate its menu with wild-card items like the McLobster and McSpaghetti. Nobody expected these items to do well because McDonald’s thrives at making hamburgers. And so they failed—to no one’s surprise. But recently McDonald’s decided to do something super simple: offer breakfast all day. And guess what happened? Sales went through the roof. It didn’t require scientists squirreled away in an R&D center creating some magical new failure. The company just took one simple idea and ran with it.

Why Simplification Is Essential

I’m not known for taking the path of least resistance. If there’s an issue, I’ve already mapped out a complex and drawn-out solution. Then someone points at a map and says, “Or we could just do this.”

Lightning bolt. Simpler is always better.

Consider your marketing strategy. If you tweak five things at once, how can you know which tactic is driving results? Which is holding you back from growth? Focusing on one change at a time allows you to measure it and assess results before moving on to the next change.

Offering too many choices to customers can overwhelm them and keep them from buying anything at all from you. It’s called analysis paralysis. Just try shopping on Amazon. I needed a phone wallet for my S5, and upon searching for one, was presented with 1.2 million results. How am I supposed to filter through all of those??

Trying to use 10 keywords on a web page to attract the maximum amount of customers can work against you (and piss off Google). Instead, simplify. One keyword. One focus.

What Can You Simplify?

I encourage you to look at your business and ask yourself what is unnecessarily complicated. What stresses you out every time you’ve got to deal with it? And don’t forget to look at things from the customer’s perspective. Maybe your checkout process involves three pages. There’s no reason for that. Cut it down to one and I bet sales rise.

Once you identify the things that are overly complex, brainstorm ways you can simplify them. This may be challenging because the way you’ve been doing things is now ingrained in your brain and you’ve lost perspective. So ask your employees, friends, and colleagues how they would simplify the situation. Then do it. Realize that it might take some work to get to simplicity, but in the long run, it’ll be well worth that time investment.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m hungry for pizza.

Read all of Susan Payton’s articles on

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This article was written by Susan Payton from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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