Here is our situation–thought I would see if you guys had any helpful insights:
We are located in a strip center. Behind us (our back door faces their parking lot) is a former Georgia Carpet Outlet and Target store building. The Target has moved and in its place is now a church. The GCO is still there, and now, in between the GCO and the church, will be an Incredible Pizza Company which according to the sign will be opening in May '07. I had never heard of them before but I looked at their website and they have locations throughout the country. It looks like it is a Chuck E. Cheese only at a higher level. They will have bumper cars, go-kart tracks, bowling lanes, gymnasium, birthday parties, etc. They claim on their website that the only thing better than their pizza is the fun. I believe that because if they are anything like CEC, it will be a place that people go to for the fun, not the pizza. We are a dine-in, carry-out, delivery location that seats about 55 people. We are thinking that we should not lose much of our customer base because we appeal to couples, older people, groups of adults, along with families. And if most families are like my own (3 kids-ages 10, 7, and 4), you don’t go to pizza places like CEC or Incredible Pizza unless you are invited to a birthday party.
Anyway, I guess I’m wondering, is there anything I should be really worried about? How can we attract some of the extra traffic going to their location (especially since we are behind them)? Would I be able to have flyers and ads that say something like, “For really incredible pizza come to …” or would that be some sort of copyright infringement? And, by the way, the strip center we are in is really strict about signs along the street, even temporary ones.
Any ideas? Anything would be appreciated!
From the sounds of things you aren’t appealing to the same crowd at all.
I would make sure that you differentiate yourself from them. The reason that people go there is for the fun, make sure people come to you for a reason as well - whatever that may be.
What percent of your business is dine in?
If they steal any business, it wouldn’t be carry out or delivery, so you should still be good there?
Stay true to your product. Take the time before they open to make sure that every pizza going out the door is perfect - every time, and that your operations are flawless. This level of service and quality product will keep people coming back to you.
Personally for me, I think those places are junk. I get a headache when I go in, I would hesitate to take my kids there unless it was a birthday party or something. People that actually want pizza will still come to a pizza place - not a fun house.
Just my opinion though, I’m sure others will have good ideas as well.
I think you nailed it when you said
a) higher level - I have heard that their food is substantially better than CEC.
b) Different crowd - people with little kids will go there besides b-days, but NOT without kids, and not for GREAT food.
I agree your strategy should lean, if anything, upscale - be a RESTAURANT, while they are an amusement
I don’t know that I’d start a war with “incredible” marketing…
I.P. is a buffet type of operation that does have a pretty decent pizza and as you know, it caters to large groups. It looks like you are on an entirely different level than they are. Yours is a more relaxed dining enviorment, and that is the way I would continue to promote it. You will probably lose the parties to I.P. but I’m betting that you won’t be too affected if you continue to cater to your customers with a clean store, great food, friendly service, and if you have music piped in, make sure it isn’t too loud and that it is appropriate for your customer base. As for the young families, I well remember when our boys were young and we had a Show Biz Pizza in town. We would take the boys there only on special occasions or as a special treat. Their pizza was awful (this wasn’t just my opinion, it was a general comment) and all those games don’t come free. They do have a price, and as a young family we couldn’t afford that cost very often so when we went out for pizza we usually went to one of our local pizzerias where it was easier for us to control the costs.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor
Sarah, I’m in St. Charles…where are you?
PS. I went to CEC last month for a birthday party. 2 pepperoni pizzas, 5 drinks, 1 salad bar, crapload of token…$70.00. Just keep doing what you do, and let them have the birthday parties. No one is going there for dinner with the family, unless its a special occasion.
Thanks for all of the comments so far everyone! You all make valid points. Our customer base is definitely different. Just looking at customers this past weekend, it was primarily couples (dating and married), groups of couples, and families with young children (too young for the type of games that IC would have). And, like some of you said, if we keep our focus on customer service and a strong product, then we should have nothing to worry about. And, actually, we should be glad that there will be increased attention and traffic to the area. Hopefully, some of their potential customers will drive into our strip center first and see us!
Thanks again for the supporting words!
P.S. Napoli, I’m in South St. Louis County.
Just my 2 cents, but you have kids about the age of my 3 (9,6,2) and when we take our 3 kids out to eat, its not about how good the pizza is, it is about keeping them entertained, so we spend quite a few nights at CEC. If I was taking my wife out to eat then we would go to a place with good food, probably a place like yours to get good pizza. Its neither here nor there as far as your concern about your business, but my 3 kids love CEC, and whether or not it is loud with alot of kids running around or not, it is fun for the kids so that is why we go. Plenty of time to go fine dining when the kids are grown. Sounds like alot of you are depriving your children of some fun because its not so fun for you…
Anyway, If I lived in your town and was a regular customer, probably the only time you would lose our business is if we were planning on ordering a delivery for dinner, but decided to take the kids to CEC, or INC in your case. But as is all new places in each town, the new place will be very busy at first, so keep doing what your doing and probably some extra hard work on the marketing end, and you should survive the storm just fine. In fact, you may gain extra exposure with all of the new “pizza” people that will flock to the new place when it opens, assuming they can see your place from there.
Anyway, good luck, it is all of ours worst fears when a new corporate place comes a calling, but you should be OK
Never heard of IPC, but I spend a semi-decent amount of time at Chuck E. Cheese. I have a 4 year old and she loves the place. We may have purchased food there once or twice. Otherwise, we use their BOGO coupons for tokens (ONLY tokens, no food), and have a ball. It’s downright cheap entertainment. Every now and then she asks to eat there and I tell her we can go anywhere ELSE to eat. Their pizza is overpriced and pitiful. I can assure you that they lose money on me :).
I have been quite impressed with the look of the IPC. I would wait and see the effect and let the buzz wear off and then attack marketing wise.
I wouldnt ignore it, they run a pretty good organization if you ask me.