Continued — More firsthand accounts of how pizzeria owners and leadership have handled the COVID-19 Pandemic (Page 5)
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Snappy Tomato — Burlington, Kentucky
We were fortunate that all Snappy locations had a delivery/carryout component to them. This allowed us to keep all locations open during the duration of the shutdowns. Snappy has many locations that were primarily eat-in buffet models so the biggest change was reinventing them with a carryout/delivery focus. This focus on ‘delivering’ for the customer is how we are succeeding.
Being a franchised operation with locations in multiple states, it was imperative for us to have a constant line of communication with our franchisees about changes from Federal, State and Local levels. The situation was very fluid and changing daily so being able to communicate these changes and adapt quickly was one of the biggest challenges we faced. Keeping our team members and customers safe was our NUMBER ONE priority. We quickly introduced a curbside pickup service type so the guests did not have to enter our establishment. This kept overcrowding from happening and allowed us to practice safe social distancing. We introduced special incentives for and additional staff and staff training for carryout order success, to keep our delivery operation running smoothly and our service times acceptable.
It is also imperative to have a COVID-19 plan in place should any team members / management become exposed or feel ill. Don’t wait until it happens, plan so you don’t have to shut your doors. You can’t do anything without your staff – they are the most important part of your organization.
Don’t stop advertising. Your customers need you and need to continue to hear from you. Tell your customers you are here, you are open and you are here for them.
The major lesson that can be learned from all of this; is that you need to stay the course, be adaptable and do not panic.
Snappy and our franchise group have always taken the position that we want to be more than just a pizzeria, we want to be part of the community. During the pandemic, more than ever, our community has needed help and we were there willing and able.
– We have assisted the Homeless Veterans in the region and the Veteran’s Administration with housing support and pizza meals
– We have coordinated with the Girl Scouts to purchase cookies and gift them to our customers. The Girl Scouts could not go door-to-door and sell so we stepped up and helped them
-We have donated pizza lunch and dinners to area first responders and healthcare workers
As appreciation for all the support our communities has given our pizzerias, we feel it’s only appropriate to pay it forward.
— Director of Marketing Andy Ritter
Romeo’s Pizza — Medina, Ohio
How has Romeo’s Pizza weathered this time?
The brand was built with a franchise first approach, product integrity/differentiation and to positively impact our environment and COVID-19 did not change us, but it has made us better.
“The pandemic forced a change in consumer behavior and the pizza industry has been a beneficiary of this shift. We have learned to become more proactive than reactive in all phases of our business operations. We are operating as a unified team with improved communication and enhanced trust. As a team we engage in healthy conflict and are committed to our mission and vision through a culture of accountability”, said Ryan Rose, CEO.
During the pandemic, the company has opened five new locations and has laid out an aggressive expansion plan to reach 250 units within the next five years. In addition, Romeo’s Pizza has recently signed several Area Development deals that include:
- A 40-unit deal in Nigeria
A 30-unit deal in Northeast, Ohio
In negotiations/discovery phase within multiple states
Adapting to the pandemic:
With Romeo’s significant growth during the pandemic, it has accelerated our choice and purpose to give back. Our goal is to become the best community partner within the markets we operate. A good example of this is our partnership with the Ohio Restaurant Association who established a Restaurant Employee Relief Fund to assist with displaced employees.
What kind of lasting changes will you adapt moving into 2021?
The power of being a cohesive team.
“Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare” —Patrick Lencioni
Mr Hardy Pizza — Parsons, West Virginia
Our story is we started out July 2019, we purchased the pizza shop my wife Robin worked at, we knew the basics of running the shop, never having our own business before, we were doing really well, we had 3 employees not including Robin and our daughter. Then covid hit, we had just purchased new hand made Amish furniture to make our dining area more friendly and doubling seating to 45, we never offered delivery so we focused on making our shop a place to come in and feel comfortable to eat in, we had to shutdown dine ins, limiting only 2 customers in at a time ,we also offered curbside so customers didnt have to enter, we worried it would damage what we had accomplished, when school was shutdown being a family that has lived here in this town our entire lives we started giving school students free cheese pizzas and burgers daily, we knew times were difficult for some and wanted to do our part to help were we could, the community rallied around us supporting us, instead of losing business we increased our sales by 175% we went from one food delivery a week to 2 a week, we went from 3 employees to 10 sometimes needing 7 on each shift, we had to purchase a new double conveyor oven and double deep fryers to keep up with orders. we are humbled by all the support we have been given, we love our little town with a big heart. We named our shop after our initials MR Pizza Mike & Robin and we hope to be able to continue building our shop into a successful small business.
— Owners Mike and Robin Hardy