Chains VS. Indy's

Someone mentioned in another thread that “Soccer Moms” would rather order from a chain then an indy… I’d just like to continue on this subject, but of course in a
new thread… Since that was not the original topic of the other thread… Anyway…

Is there any real data behind people choosing chains vs indy’s?

I personally have caught myself ordering from the chain pizza restaurants, here are my reasons.

1.  I don't feel like doing the research to find the indy's in my area and wether or not if they deliver, etc.
2.  I just sometimes don't care about having superior quality.  A chain pizza satisifies my tastes on most occasions.  Even tho its not an uber pizza.  I just dont care sometimes.
3.  They all have great professional websites with solid online ordering & credit card payment over the internet.
4.  and Sadly but they usually get here faster then the indy's.  A majority of the time, I'd rather have a fast made pizza delivered to my house fast, then a slow baked superior pizza
     delivered to my house slow. 
5.  I know that I'll get a decent pizza from the chains and its usually unknown from the indy's and hardly consistent in quality. 

So thats just me personally… Same goes for fast food… I could stop and get a sub at Jims sub shop but 90% of the time, I’ll just opt for subway because I know their product is usually consistent, I’m in and out pretty fast. Where as with jims sub shop, its all unknown and I’m not necessarily ready to take that risk… Especially when I’m on a schedule and budget.

I definately think chains have a huge advantage over indys because of these reasons… But… those are just my personal thoughts…

What does everyone else think?

I often get calls from guests in the motels in town who tell me they only order from indy places because they get better food. I have asked how they chose which indy to order from and most say it is in the name. If the name indicates supercheap 2 for 1 then it is not concidered but if it is something like Cindy’s or Daddio’s or Mama’s they will give it a shot.

I was recently oput of town for business and brought my wife and daughter and her friend. The Kids wanted to stay in the hotel and order pizza and watch movies while my wife and I decided to go out for dinner. I wanted to find an independent pizza place but didnt know the area. I looked in the yellow pages but couldnt figure out which one was close to the Downtown area we were at, so guess what I did after trying to find a indi for about 15 minutes I called pizza hut I figured they would have a store in the area. The on line ordering was down so I called the call centre 15 min later they took the order. My daughter called us 1 ghour later and said the pizza hadnt come yet. I told her to call them back well I guess they lost the order, so they took it again. 40 min later still no pizza. They called again and when we got back to the room they had been on hold for 15 min so I got on the phone and when they finally answered they said they sent the order to the store but didnt realize the store had short hours due to staff shortages. I told them off cancelled the order and went downstairs and asked at the desk if there was a good pizza shop near by. Well there was less then half a block just around the corner. It was 2 nice guys didnt look like much of a place but the pizza was great and I had it 15 min after I walked in and ordered!! I guess I will stick with the mom and pop stores from now on.

I had a similar experience with pizza hut while out of town in a hotel. At about 10 PM I placed my order, an hour later I call to see where my order is of course they were backed up they tell me pizza will be there shortly 30 to 45 min later I call back and they were closed.

At least you had the satisfaction of telling them off.

My experience over 10 plus years is typically to ask a hotel what pizza places deliver and most times they refer me to a franchise. Indy’s should try to build a relationship with the hotel and offer a kickback if the hotel guests order from them, perhaps even try and put ads in the rooms.

If an indy gets calls from motels and the reason is they want quality, I would bet the number of calls to franchises from the same motel far exceeds the indys (of course there will be exceptions in smaller towns OR with local indys that have solid reputations/products in the eyes of hotel employees). Normally at hotels I will see delivery guys in the lobbys and almost always are from chains.

If I am traveling for pleasure with Family I would never order from an indy without knowing them first. Doesn’t take much to get 5 cranky people in a room because the pizza was completely different then what we are used to.

If I choose to look for an indy via phone book, I always look for the largest ad. I know that doesn’t neccessarily mean the best pizza, but does mean they likely are doing decent financially and is a sign of popularity in the area. As a traveler though I typically stick with franchises since I know what I am getting. Pizza is not just pizza and every indy seems to do things differenty and that difference can be dramatic between stores and cities.

I would think the biggest reason people use chains is consistency. I’m sorry but to say that indy’s produce ‘better food’ across the board is just rubbish. For every good indy there are plenty of bad indy’s we’ve all seen them in our market place. Before I opened my shop I used to have to drive to the next town for pizza as all of the local guys pies were (and still are) dreadful. Likewise there are good PH/Dom/PJ stores, for example, and bad ones.

Personal recommendation is a good thing so, as suggested, ask who’s good when you are out of town.

In our town, just for delivery we have:

Our store: I’ll spare you the claims…

Dominos: Franchise. Medium volume for a Dominos: Quality: Just what you expect.

Pizza Hut: Company Store. One of the weaker ones I would guess. Quality: Below standard.

Indy 1: Delivery and C/O in supermarket center, volume probably 300K, more than half C/O. Quality: Average to good.

Indy 2: Delivery and C/O downtown. Open late and cheap. Volume probably 200K. Quality: Dismal.

Indy 3: Sit down with some delivery. Nice italian red sauce place. Deli volume under 100K and really slow, Quality for pizza: Poor.

Indy 4: Sit down with some delivery. Nice italian red suace place. Deli volume under 100K and really slow. Quality for pizza: Not great.

Indy 5: Sit down with some delivery. Mediocre red sauce place with poor location. Deli volume negligable. Quality: Dismal, dirty, slow.

Your chances of getting pizza better than the chains: 2 out of 6 (our place and Indy 1). It is no wonder people call the chains when they are out of town.

These above are three key ideas that jumped out at me reading the thread.

Independent pizza and other restaurants, for whatever reason, are not easily identifiable in motels/hotels we stay in. Sometimes the front desk staff can direct folks in larger tourist markets. By and large we are relegated to the yellow pages or asking a random local business establishment employee where they go to get great X. We do pretty well that way, but yearn for local smaller businesses to get a clue/grip on marketing reality and get the message out where people can find it! And we are actively looking for it!

My wife and I are committed to our industry and to independent operators. We will only go to national/regional chains or franchises when there are no other options. We will drive 50 miles to “keep the faith”. We have maybe a 60% success rate with finding god food and service together.

Yellow Pages are for us the most vile of all resources for local businesses. It is useful inasmuch as it gives us a list of places, but the ads give us little to no valuable information about the businesses. The ones spending big $$$ on ads are generally NOT the ones we and our travel companions tend to frequent. If the ads coincide with a personal recommendation we’ve gotten, then that is different. Mining for a place in a new location is tragic for us in the YP ads.

I hope this thread gives everyone the inspiration to get their menus, flyers, business cards, other propaganda in front of motel/hotel staff as often as possible. It is a potential customer source you cannot work actively, but can score with some passive efforts. Our nearest rooms for rent area is about 7 miles up the interstate, and we won’t deliver there right now . . . but we have woken up to getting our information to them. Only places to eat within 5 miles of there are McD’s, Waffle House, Huddle House, Wendy’s and a truck stop sandwich place. We are missing that boat for too long. we are in reasonable distance for dine-in traffic to come in.

Nick

If a Yellow Page advert tells you little about the business then I would also say that a menu by itself tells you little about the quality/consistency.

For example a few months after we opened one of our local competitors spent a fortune on really nice color menu’s, really (and I mean really) high quality paper and printing (although it was fully of spelling mistakes - bless!) - must have cost a fortune. If you’d seen it you would have been impressed yet when you see the actual store its filthy, paint peeling from the windows, dirty windows, dirty floors and whilst you can’t see in the kitchen you just know it ain’t gonna be any better - oh yea and the pizza is bad.

The one key thing I would agree with is reputation and recommendation; but that isn’t just a menu or a leaflet in the room. Its engaging with the hotel/motel - I’ve done it with my three local hotels - In all of them I know we are the only pizza place which they have menu’s and actively recommend and we are regularly one nearly every other night the other two at least twice a week. We regularly visit them ensure they have up to date menu’s and take them some food so they know what they are recommending; and you know what ? no other pizza place (and there are 6-7 places) even bother to put menu’s there. We also give staff discounts if they buy for the front desk on a night. Where we are hotels don’t do sponsored key cards so as you say it about getting the message out there but not just printed matter/menu’s.

I have worked in a hotel and motel in the past…The chains were quite willing to pay to get inside the rooms and leave a small token when they delivered…The indies who knew they had a better product had the attitude that they did not have to play those games to get the business…As a result, at most hotels and motels all you see is chains unless you dig…

We are in a resort town so getting into lodging is a very important part of our business. Visitors are 2/3rds of the business when we are busy. If I can’t reach them I am in trouble. We do a number of things some of which I will not share. Two things we have done now for year are:

  1. Print business cards with an offer of a FREE 12" 3 topping pizza. No strings attached, just a free pizza. I personally go around to all the lodging properties in town twice a year and talk to front desk staff about us, business, occupancy, whatever. I give the manager enough of the free pizza coupons for each employee that works the front desk to have one. The typical property has about 6-7 people. All in all I guess I give away about 400-500 12" pizzas this way. Cost to me including delivery is perhaps as much as $2000 since we have so many. That is equal to 1/4 of my yellow pages bill. If you are in a market where you have a few hotels/motels etc giving away a few pizzas will pay off nicely.

  2. We give any lodging property employee $5 off any order when they are at work. They can call and get a small chees pizza or a Calzone or a large salad and get $5 off. If the property itself calls and wants a stack of pizza for an employee meeting we give them $5 off PER PIZZA.

The same offers are made to the local taxi company and to the shuttle drivers of the lodging properties that have them.

alot of talk about hotels here. I am an indy and sales have gone up with the local hotels as my wife is a believes in marketing is the key to seccess, with that said check out “hotelstands.com”. we designed a stand and THEY get you the business with the hotel, no work on your end you do not even go to the hotel, they deal with them, and then your name and menu is in every room on top of the tv. my stand is really sharp and great advertisment. it will cost you $1.00 per room per month. hotels here have about 130 rooms so that is $130 a month and our sales are running about 8-900 a month from one hotel.

Top dog, you are right about the TV stands. We use them too in about a dozen properties. The rate we pay though is a LOT less. $4.50 per room per year. The company is called Follow-thru Inc.

bodegahwy you are very fortunate to get them for that price…The only chain pizza place area has a deal with a local fellow than owns a 52 room hotel and 36 room motel…88 rooms x $5.00 per month to put their menus and “sanitized” yellow pages in the rooms

I have one argument “Life is too short to eat mediocre pizza”. Don’t let impulse and impatience deny you of superiority.

Royce,

I may have a good deal but the one you describe is not supportable.

At $440 per month, I would have to see about $7500 a month from those 88 rooms to justify the price. That comes to 15-20 orders per night meaning that ~20% of those rooms order from him EVERY night and that assumes the rooms are fully oocupied every night. In my experience, that is not going to happen.

For “in-room” advertising we are in a number of guides and directories. Depending on the size ad we run, on average we pay about 50 cents a room per year to be there. In a few cases we pay as much as $1 per room.
There are plenty of advertising opportunties out there. Not all of them are good.