Scott Anthony has operated a Fox's Pizza Den franchise successfully for 10 years, and yet if you talk to him about his business, you might think he just got in. While many people experience "Aha!" moments, 2004 was an "Aha!" year for the pizza veteran from Punxsutawney, Pa.
You could just about hear him slapping his forehead in an e-mail he sent me several weeks ago: "I have always heard it said that increasing sales 10 percent will double your profits. Now I see it for myself."
How'd he do it?
* By implementing aggressive portion control standards and analyzing his menu pricing.
* With smart advertising (Anthony is a big fan of Kamron Karington's Black Book of Pizzeria Marketing).
* By building customer loyalty on value-added products (read "bundled deals") and services.
"It's funny," he wrote, that "everyone is looking for a big secret" when all it boils down to aggressive and strategic "four walls" marketing. Nothing fancy, just minding the shop like any good hands-on operator.
Seems that same thinking works just as well in Australia, home to John Kozik, a retired quick-service
restaurant veteran. Kozik was on the management team that introduced the Pizza Hut franchise to Aussies in 1969, and he's now the chairman of the board at 154-unit Eagle Boys Pizza, based in Brisbane.
Steve Coomes, Senior Editor
A few weeks ago, I received this message from the man friends call "Koz," a true foodie who still lives and breathes the restaurant business. Seems his mind never slows down, and in the middle of the night, he offered this advice to experienced operators looking to rejuvenate their businesses:
"Go back to where you started from and ...
a) Dig up your old recipes, and see how close they are to what you started with. After all, that's what bought the first customers in.
b) Revisit your original mission statement.
c) Re-learn your original customer satisfaction policy.
d) Re-establish customer service standards for product quality, restaurant cleanliness and product value for the money."
If you're thinking this advice sounds corny, I should point out that Kozik retired a wealthy man in his late 30s. (Sorry, that's not a typo.)
Want more sage advice from this savvy 60-year-old? Read on:
"Most important of all, never forget to use the following phrases with your customers: 'Welcome! How can I help you?' 'Thank you. Was everything to your liking?' 'I hope to see you back soon.'"
Earth shattering stuff, eh? A real restaurant industry Dr. Phil, that guy.
If you ask me, the pizza business — no, every business — could use a few thousand Kozik clones (read also PROFILE: John Kozik).
Here are some more words of wisdom that probably won't amaze you. Rather, they'll probably shame you if you know you should be doing these things in your operation, but aren't. A couple of months ago I called Jim Moran for a story I was doing on POS database marketing. Moran is a former multi-unit Domino's Pizza manager for Team Washington, arguably the most respected franchisee group in that chain.
You can't so much as mention Domino's to Moran without him telling at least one — but likely five — stories about Team Washington founder Frank Meeks. (Meeks died of pneumonia just a few months ago at age 48. Read also Frank Meeks' death marks the passing of a pizza industry legend.) In Moran's own words, his mentor was "an animal when it came to customer service. His standards were so high."
When, during the interview, I asked Moran for his take on database marketing, I was surprised to hear he didn't think much of it. A good mail campaign will generate trial, he said, but if the pizzeria doesn't give customers great service and product, "you can send a thousand direct mail pieces to their house and they'll never come back."
Operators typically call those "lazy customers," people who, for reasons not always apparent, haven't called to order pizza in some time. Moran bristled at the use of the phrase and said, "The best way to get lazy customers back to your business is to never let them become lazy. If you have a good product and good service, there's no such thing as lazy customers. Just do your job, which means delivering a great pizza in less than 30 minutes."
Though Frank Meeks mastered those basics long before Moran started working for him, Moran said he never stopped encouraging his team to reach that standard. How Meeks built 60 thriving stores in two decades was simple, he said: "Frank just did a better job than others of not losing people from his address count. That made his operations ungodly profitable. And what's unbelievable is that people in this business focus so hard on getting new customers, when they would do well just to go and serve their regular customers better."
Sounds like Anthony, Kozik and Moran talked to each other before I got to them.