Janie Van Winkle is a franchisee with Nick-N-Willy’s Pizza. Van Winkle is set to open her second store this year and recently did a light remodel of her current location to align it with the new Nick-N-Willy’s look.
Q. Community service is a big part of your operation. How does it help in your marketing efforts?
A: That’s the main focus of all of my marketing. The biggest piece that we do is our fundraising cards. We support local non-profits, and we’ve helped local non-profits raise over $50,000 since we opened the store, in five years. I call that a ‘win, win, win.’ The customer gets a great value, the non-profit gets a great fundraiser and I get new customers. That’s been our cornerstone. After that, I rarely say no to a donation request, as long as it’s a non-profit.
Q. With many restaurants taking a hit thanks to the economy, how is take-and-bake fairing?
A: We’re take-and-bake as well as baked, so we do both. I had an ‘up-year’ in ’09 as compared to the previous year. I think a lot of that is due to the fact that we do take-and-bake and baking. People are beginning to understand the change in our format.
Q. To what do you attribute that success?
A: We’ve had a good year, and I attribute that mostly to our community involvement and that connection that we have. Another example is on Halloween, we do some sort of a promotion with a local partners’ program, which is similar to a Big Brothers/ Big Sisters program. I hear over and over, when we do those kinds of promotions –– we donate a dollar for every pizza sold on Halloween to Partners –– “thank you for supporting our organization” from the board members to people who have been involved previously. It just creates a real awareness in the community. I think that attributed not just to the business, but overall.
Q. You recently remodeled your interior after only five years being open. Has the move helped in your day-to-day operations?
A: We added new paint, and we added another oven. … It was directed by the franchise, and in the last year-and-a-half, we changed the logo and (developed) fresh colors and a fresh look. Our store was five years old and needed to be updated to those colors. We now have the new logo throughout the store and in all of our collateral.
Q. After five years in the industry, you’re set to open another franchise. Why now?
A: It just feels like the right time. It feels like I obviously have a handle on the business. I feel like I do know the business (and) I know the market. … Certainly, real estate is a challenge anytime, but I feel like we’re going to hit that market right at the right time.