My Turn: Clayton Krueger, Farrelli’s, Tacoma, WA

What Slice of Hope did for us

Everything Pizza Today sets out to accomplish, they do so with the highest class. So when I received a phone call from Jeremy White last year asking for our help with a big upcoming event to tackle breast cancer, I said: “We‘d be honored to help, Jeremy. What do you need from us?” At the time, he was unsure what the campaign would entail, as he was in the initial discovery phase of Slice of Hope. What he did know, having been personally affected by breast cancer, was that he was going to embark on an industry-wide initiative to help find a cure and that it would be a tough hill to climb from every angle. Among the hurdles Jeremy, myself and others anticipated, these were some of the largest:

The need to establish relationships with the top breast cancer research facilities so that the money collected could go straight to the labs.

How would the magazine go about raising awareness for the cause?

Collectively, how could we convince the independent pizzeria operators in America that donating a percentage of their sales from a busy Friday night was a good idea given the nature of the economy?

As anticipated, some operators wondered what was in it for them. At Farrelli’s, we certainly are not immune to the economy, either. In the 4th quarter of 2008, our sales took a significant hit. For the first time in our company’s history, they stayed down. We were reassured by similar stories around the industry that our decline in sales was the result of the sputtering economy. However, action was needed to ensure the future health of our organization. We found screws in our business system that needed to be tightened — screws that we did not even know existed prior to the economic downturn. When things are good, you don’t notice the little things. When things are bad, those little things can make or break you. On top of becoming a more efficient organization, we knew that we needed to continue to do the things that had led to our success up to that point, and that was to continue to find ways to give back to our communities.

Recently at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, I presented a seminar on “Winning Pizza Marketing Strategies.” Here’s a quick recap for those of you who could not attend — find opportunities to make memorable moments for your employees, your guests and your communities. The result will be brand loyalty by your employees and patrons alike. They will be compelled to spread positive word of mouth on your behalf. Slice of Hope was the perfect opportunity to do just that, not just for our company, but for every independent pizzeria operator in the country. To us, that was the beauty of the initiative. Slice of Hope was a campaign that transcended the competition within our industry and brought us all together in one unified front, to fight breast cancer head on. That’s powerful, and that’s why we were on board from Day 1.

After we participated in Slice of Hope 2011, we received a ton of positive press in our community. We enjoyed ongoing engagement with our customers, many of whom have been impacted by this disease. This, in turn, lead to even more brand loyalty and support from our community. Farrelli’s was recognized as the National Neighbor Award recipient by the National Restaurant Association in 2010 for our emphasis on neighborhood nourishment. To win an award of that nature is humbling — but it also assures us that we are doing business the right way. I would encourage you all to seek opportunities in your community to do the same, and when Jeremy White gives you a call this year and asks you to sign up for Slice of Hope 2012 … Well, there’s only one answer to give: “YES, now what do you need from us, Jeremy?”

— Clayton Krueger (Farrelli’s, Tacoma, Washington)

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