2010 November: Marketing Matters

2010 November: Marketing MattersWhat is the next level for you? Boosting sales, opening another location, franchising? Each has his own mission; each must take critical steps to bring his operation to that new level. My personal mission is to make my pizzeria the best it can be — the talk of the town. My obstacle: The Big Three and me. How can I make my advertising, and thus the brand image that I present, look world class on my budget? More importantly, what about me and my approach to taking the next step?

I interviewed several expert business consultants for this article, and the one point that stuck out with all of them was best summed up by James Sinclair of OnSite Consulting: “Operators generally tend not to love advice, especially advice that counters their own system or beliefs, and especially if they have to pay for someone to give an opinion they disagree with.” When all the experts are saying, “Here is a way to increase your sales, brand yourself with a customized look and complement that with enticing images by a world-renowned food photographer,” the question becomes this: Will you lean on your own understanding? Get over yourself. Let’s be doers, not forgetful hearers of what experts preach.

Peter F. Drucker, American educator and writer, said “Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.” As operators, we need to decide to listen, profit from the advice and be courageous.

Sinclair concurs: “Operators can benefit from outsiders who understand the market from a macro perspective and franchisees that have worked closely with a franchisor either for testing or on a model variation. Being a franchisee does not waive your requirement to innovate and be dynamic. Localization is 90 percent.”

Doing so gives you a concise and well crafted message. You are now on the same playing field as the big guys — and you have a home field advantage.

Tony Troiano, co-owner of J.B. Alberto’s Pizza, spent 32 years growing his business into a Chicago tradition. Troiano says: “I certainly think, from a food standpoint, we (independents) have a huge advantage over the Big Three, but we can learn a lot from them as far as marketing and operations are concerned.”

Troiano learned to profit in several ways. “I promote online ordering on all of my printed material,” he says. “This is something the Big 3 have promoted for many years — and, thanks to them, it has certainly taken off. Why not piggy back on the millions that they are spending to promote this? Let’s face it, online ordering is here to stay and growing every year.”

My pizzeria has seen online sales double in the past year, and Troiano reports similar results.

We can also take a design lesson from the big operations. J.B. Alberto’s Pizza, for example, is a delco unit (offering only delivery or carryout). Since no one spends much time in there or dines inside the unit, how much does the small interior space of the pizzeria matter?

“Last year, I remodeled the carryout area to create a warm and inviting feel with cherry wood and granite countertops,” says Troiano. “Our carry out sales increased 6 percent.”

Statistically, most franchise chains either strongly encourage or require their franchisees to remodel or upgrade interior spaces every fi ve years. Troiano’s results show the importance of this. ?

Scott Anthony is a Fox’s Pizza Den franchisee in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He is a monthly contributor to Pizza Today.

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