Name Change - Better or Worse?

We leased a place 6 months ago. Name has been around locally for about 20 years and the last owner really ran it down. We didn’t realize quite how bad until after we got into it. We’ve had a lot of struggles in the past 6 months and without this forum, I think we may have thrown the towel in.

Each month has gotten better and our same-day sales month over month has increased. I track everything and we’re now just under $20K/month. We still struggle with the reputation from those who haven’t tried us - those that have are loyal customers.

So, the big question: change the name or keep going? If we change it, we may get the “new place” boost and gain back the customers that got turned off by the former owner. My worry is, if we change, will we see a loss of our current customers? After such a battle to get where we are, I’d hate to lose ground. The nickname around town is Pizza Sh***y and boy is it repeated a lot! Even our employees get ribbing for working there but they stand up for us and defend the “all new owners”.

Is there a chance we’ll lose ground by changing the name?

the new pizza city,grand reopening

We did that - last October. Even put New Ownership on every piece of marketing there is and still can’t get from under the shadow. You wouldn’t believe some of the things this yahoo did - bad service, slow deliver, really poor product quality, overcharging, employee underpaying, tax evasion - you name it.

I did a name change 2 years ago when I moved to my larger new location. My reasons were different because we have always have had a good following but times have changed and as we grew our namw didnt reflect what we were. Our old name was “Just Pizza” but over the years we have added alot more items to the menu so when we moved into our new location we changed our name to “JP’s” It worked very well for us we attracted new customers and our old ones just kept comming. I would try it. Do some box topping for your current customers so they know you will be doing a name change and I know new people will trry you out, everybody wants to try the new place in town.

I’d recommend keeping the name, but re-marketing it.

Step 1- On every piece of marketing/advertsing material that comes out about your store, you MUST indicate boldy under new ownership and management.

Step 2- Redesign the appearance of your store. Put some money into adding new paint, wall paper, wood trim, counters, tables, tiles, etc. to give it the clear appearance that a change has arrived…for the better. Get the workers brand new uniforms of a new color. Redesign the logo/image as necessary. Revise the menus and box topper designs.

Step 3- Gear up for a big re-grand opening campaign. This should come 1-2 months after the change of ownership has occurred. Use this time to plan and arrange for advertising, re-training the staff and hiring of new staff, creation of new policies and/or procuedures, etc.

Step 4- Host the grand re-opening. Have some kind of carry-out/walk-in special that requires people to come to your store and see your renovations. Make sure everyone has their game face on. Make it a fun and family event. It doesn’t have to be as extravagant as a grand opening for a new store, but it should be an event. Free sampling always works well, especially for new/specific items you want to try pushing.

Step 5- Ensure every single visitor to your store during the event receives your marketing/promotional materials. This means magnets, menus, coupons or offers, etc. Have some kind of drawing that requires people to submit their names and contact information to form a new mailing list of people who have already experienced the new grandeur of the store.

Good luck to you!

I have seen that list of recommendations before I’m sure - we followed it. Everything you recommended has been done in the past 6 months. The uniforms are sharper now and not “unisex”. The grand opening was a great success - all things worked well but we still have that old reputation that pops up from people that haven’t tried since the change.

My question really is, if (when) we change the name, what’s the risk of losing existing customers.


I don’t think you’ll lose customers. Of course, this is based on absolutely no experience in the matter. However, in my opinion, if you were to advertise to all existing customers that the new quality of pizzas, the phone number, the new management, and the same great service will remain the same and all you’re doing is changing the name, I wouldn’t see why you would lose customers. I think all you would do would gain a new customer base with the new name, and by doing so you might actually increase sales.

Just make sure you advertise this to prepare all your current customers with the name change. Maybe putting your current logo in large print on your advertising pieces with your new logo next to it in smaller print, stating something like Pizza City will soon be changing names to “insert your name here”. Hope this helps. -J_r0kk

all of the the “new” old places in my town are still called by previous names.
some have increased sales some are less as fortunate with declined sales.
i think it does not matter to most people what the name is as long as the food is good and price is reasonable.the nick-name will always apply to your location.sticks and stones…
just keep plugging away,and you will be fine.personally i would change the name, it will not hurt you at all and you will feel better.

If the reputation of the PRODUCT is so poor then it may be time to change the product all together too. If this is the case then I would definitely go with a name change.

However, the advice I posted earlier should have been sufficient to overcome problems with most service and quality issues of previous times. If you have done all of these things and still have this poor reputation about the product, then it may be time to do drastic changes. Change the name, move the location, or even offer a taste guarantee. You must shed that reputation to be successful, even if that means giving everyone in town a free pizza to see without risk that it’s not pizza sh***y. A 99cent slice promtion also tends to serve well in this area. I’d like to hear some more about your particular situation and more specifics of what people are saying and your thoughts of why.

Wishing you the best of luck tho!

Oh, I should also point out. When I was with another company who changed names, sales dropped almost exactly in half. Please be sure to budget for this happening if you chose to change names (although not to say that you can’t recoop the loss and be more successful in the long run).

Trust me I have been there CHANGE THE NAME. i know my reason wasnt the same but your regular customers will stay They are not going to go somewhere else because you changed your name! You WILL attract new customers because people like to try new places. Make sure the food is great and your business will increase.

you know you want to,do it, and then there will be no will then be up to you to make it sounds like you have all the right stuff,except have come this far,go the distance,show them what you are made of,put your name on what you do,let them know that your in town…

The company that I have a franchise with did a name change about 6 years ago. The name origanally was Pizza Outlet. They changed it to Vocelli Pizza to reflect the quality product and service. As the word “Outlet” was not as flattering in their eyes.

What happened was that locations in areas with high income almost doubled their sales. Where in locations of low income sales dropped, then steadily rose back up to the original average.

We have been through the name change thing and have come out without any really drop off in business.

When we took over the store 14 months ago without any prior experience in pizza we made the decision to go for a whole new look, name etc BUT leave the product unchanged.

The store was doing about $7.5 - $8k per week, badly run, average sevice, tired decor, poorly advertised and a very bland designed and printed menu, poor uniform and staff lacking any form of discipline.

We took the step to completely change the name from Currambine Pizza & Pasta to Pizza Pizzazz (Currambine).

As we are in a fairly medium to higher income area we saw the need to lift the image of the place to the expectations of the customers. We installed a new counter and put up walls to hide the kitchen area (except for make bench/ oven area as people like to see their pizza being made), put in new funky chrome and black wicker furniture, re-painted the walls a deep red chilli colour (counter is same red & black) and put staff in new all black uniforms (totally supplied by us - shirts, pants and caps).

Our shirts have the logo on the front and “Pizzazz” in big letters right across the back so every time a staff member turns around people see our name “Pizzazz”. We put “Pizzazz” out where people saw it all the time.

Next was new signage - neon up top and new simple but modern window signage.

Unfortunately all this was done right at the middle of the biggest ever building boom every experience in Australia, in particular Western Australia where we are. The whole exercise took over 6 months to do due to labour shortage in the building trade as well as continual hold ups from our landlord (major shopping centre group across Australia).

We did all this with minimal advertising, only doing a letterbox drop with our new menus with the new logo and colour theme.

Now it is all finished we are experiencing sales around the high $8k - mid $9k and growing every month.

The cost for the name change came out at roughly $30k which included signage ($9k) uniforms ($1.5k) Painting ($1.5k) new internal walls ($4k) furniture ($3k) counter ($3k) printing of menus and fridge magnets ($2k) electrical ($3k) plus other incidentals.

It was a big cost, but badly needed if the business was to go forward.

Everything has started to pay off despite our name being left out of all the telephone directories for 2007.

Would I do it again? Definitely yes!, but not in the middle of a building boom.

It could have been better managed. It could have been better advertised and it could have been better in other aspects.

In the end of the day we made a clean break from the previous ownership (except for their great pizzas which customers tell us are even better now) and his lax attitude to customer service and general overall apathy to everything thanks to too much pot smoking.

Changing the name is only part of the whole picture. There has to be seen to have a whole change in culture and attitude, cleaniness, service and product has to be excellent every time without compromise.

If you are suffering from a bad name, especially one that people can change to a derogatory rhyming one then you need to get out of it real quick smart. People throw sh*t and some of it sticks for ever despite everything you do to change it.

My advise for all it’s worth (even less than J_r0kk’s 2 cents) is go for a name change overhaul, including uniforms, logo, decor etc. If you don’t you will always get that group that will call you Pizza Sh…ty.

Best of luck

the way I see it is if the owner before you was that bad and now you say your product is better and new so why not change the name… new improved product + new name = new and better reputation… no matter how good you doing now, people still see that name and still think of the bad reputation… you will not lose any of ur loyal customers, when they come in they are going to see is the new name that’s all… give a heads up, boxtoppers informing about the new name… hope my opinion helps

Thanks so much for all the comments & advice - we’ll take the next step and do a name change!