Resurrection Project

Greetings everyone.

I hope you are all having fabulous December’s.

I am about to embark on store number 4. For those of you who don’t know me - I am a 25 year pizza vetran (first job on my 16th bday at Dominos). I belong to a small franchise that is total of 44 stores of which 38 are in the “area” I operate in - The “Colorado front range”. Blackjack Pizza is part of the Big 3 in our markets (well not all markets it is in) as Papa is not a player in Colorado. Our comparison is truly Dominos with a more indy spirit and way of thinking. We make dough fresh every day and mix sauce from Stanislaus (7/11 + Full Red blended with our custom spice mix). I don’t 100% follow the herd of the rest of the chain.

Anyway, shows my current 3 stores - Longmont, Boulder and Gunbarrel - along with my ex-managers shop in Erie (i wrote you all about him being very close to closing - so far he is hanging in there but I feel it is only a matter of time as his personal finances are screwed up too) and the store I am buying - Louisville.

Louisville (pronounced lewisville) has 26k addresses and is technically 3 towns - Louisville, Lafayette and Superior. All the normal competion - Pizza Hut, Dominos (2 units), Marcos, 3 Indie. 1 of the Indies - Double D’s Pizza came from Dominos too - He also has the Black Book - uses Repeat Returns - etc.

The history of the store has it’s record week of 16k and relied heavily on school contract ($5000 a week). The current owners have owned it since 2004 - it was originally opened in 1996. Current sales level is $6500-$7900 per week. My little Gunbarrel store only has 9k addresses and does 12k per week as a comparison.

I have a game plan of my attack - for one just by adding my extensive menu and strategy i use in my other stores - FREE Delivery being a huge part of it - I know I will be successful.

My question is what do I do the first few weeks before my marketing starts hitting? Kinda like opening a store from scratch - I did that with my Gunbarrel location as i bought an indy and flipped it - but this is not going to be screaming NEW to the general public.

I would love to hear opinions.

About a decade ago, the company I was working for took over 5 under-performing shops. The biggest mistake we made was not firing the entire staff and starting out fresh. It is really difficult to get them out of the “We have always done it this way” mentality. Marketing is pretty easy to ramp up. I found that most shops don’t do much effective marketing, so just about anything bumps up sales. When those sales come, people get tired. There is a rhythm that staff kind of gets into that is hard to break as well.

I can’t really explain it, but I hope you get what I am talking about. It is when you have an inside staff that thinks a 100 pie hour is really busy, then they kind of resent the extra work that back to back 200 pie hours causes. Every time I heard someone say that we we were “too busy”, I cringed. 30 minute make times and hour delivery is “too busy”, but even then, it is more of a staffing problem.

I guess the best thing to do would be to keep the balance between training and marketing up. You can never have too much training, but if your marketing is going better than your training, you will have some service disasters. You are easily one of the top marketing guys in the pizza biz. Training? Not so much. (If you only wanted flowery praise, let me know. I can edit this :mrgreen: ).

I understand the staff thing oh too well. When I bought my sub shop (that I recently sold to my manager to pursue this other op) I kept all of them including the former owners - huge mistake does not even do it justice.

Lucky for me I already have 80 employees in my other 3 stores and this one 100% of them will be gone…I may struggle the first day or two for the proper amount of employees but I will get it fixed up in short order. Got a few who want to transfer full time etc. What I do have is myself, my Area Manager I have and my daughter who is a stud phone person.

What I wanted to hear most of all was what folks have done for DAY 1 to DAY 10 when they first opened because even though there is a base I need to get off to a good start or instead of buying the last piece of my mini empire I will have bought a job!

See? You are way too nice to your staff.

How many days do you plan on closing? In your place, I would start hiring a month before the take over. Doing the interviews at a Starbucks or other convenient location. Start training a week before in a rented class room. We have rented rooms at a library for $1 an hour for this.

On their last day, get the keys, then go in the following day and set up an answering machine right away, explaining that the store is closed for 2-3 days while the management changes or for renovations, whatever sounds best. Take those few days to really clean out the accumulated junk and give the store a thorough cleaning. Your employees will take much better care of a shop they cleaned themselves, and it is nice to work in a clean shop. Heck, you might even want to paint the ceilings.

Have 1-2 hour training classes during that time to get both the new staff and the old staff on the same page.

On opening day, do a soft opening. Just get the kinks worked out that first week, and hold a Grand Opening the second Friday or Saturday after you open. Pull out all the stops (or as many as you can), and make an event out of it.

By that point, you marketing and training should be kicking in and you will be rocking.