In my 10 years at the magazine, I’ve met some pretty great families in this industry. Top of mind is the Hadjis family in California. I flew out to sunny San Diego in my first year with the company to profile their small growing chain, Oggi’s Pizza & Brewing Company. I broke bread with co-owners George and John Hadjis and their families. I spent time with them at a private party for their employees at the Wynn one year during International Pizza Expo. I love to see how their grandchildren have grown over the years on Facebook and Instagram.
Consequently, I enjoy stopping in at Perfetto Pizzeria here in Louisville. Owners Dan and Cindi always recognize me and ask how the magazine is doing. I ask about their family up North and how business is for their small pizzeria. And Chubby Ray’s Original Louisville Pizza Company and Sports Cafe owner Ray Perkins is a familiar sight around our small town of Jeffersontown, Kentucky. Not only is he on the city council, but he is a fixture on social media as well. How else would I have known that his stepson Corey Littrell was drafted by the Boston Red Sox last summer in the 2013 MLB Draft?
So what have these relationships done? Most importantly, it has fostered a sense of brand loyalty –– even though in the instance of Oggi’s, I am literally on the other side of the country. Guess where I told my husband to eat on a recent business trip out there?
While the majority of local customers typically don’t have these kind of interactions with an owner-operator, I do think it is important to show your customers that you are more than just a logo or a faceless business. Encourage them to get to know your family. Do you have a succession plan to keep your business in your family once you are gone? This will generate generations of brand enthusiasts for years to come.