Focus on delivery, social media contributes to Naked Pizza Middle East success

DUBAI — Naked Pizza, known as N_K_D Pizza in Dubai, is thriving since Ian Ohan opened the chain's first international and Middle Eastern location there in 2011. The New Orleans-based pizza chain with more than 20 stores now has five in the UAE, and Ohan is planning another two in the next year or so. (Click here to see a slideshow of photos of Naked Pizza.)

"It's a great international launching pad for North American and Western concepts, you know with Emirates Airlines connecting around the world, it's a hub for tourism," said Ohan, who spoke about how he uses social media at the International Franchising Forum this week in Dubai. "It's a great place to showcase new products, and it's in a very multi-cultural environment."

Ohan has relied on social media  — mainly Twitter and Facebook — to engage his customers in Dubai, who are very savvy when it comes to using the medium.

"The per capita rate per usage here is huge, even bigger than in the States, and we really use it to engage and connect with our customers," said Ohan, who stressed the importance of addressing customer complaints.

"We love complaints because that means people care enough about us to tell us," he said. "If they don't care, they just won't say anything and won't come back. When it's our fault — we're not perfect — we apologize right there on Facebook for the world to see. Those customers usually end up becoming our most loyal fans."

A focus on delivery

Most Dubains experience Naked Pizza via delivery; in fact, 95 percent of the buisness done in the 1,600-square-foot flagship unit located on the Dubai Marina is from delivery. The chain recently added online ordering and payment and is now looking into mobile payments as well.

"On Thursday nights, we literally have 60 drivers packed in here, and our goal is to deliver in less than 23 minutes," said Ohan, who also has the franchise rights for Naked Pizza in India. "India is going to be amazing; we are really excited about that."

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