To Remodel or Not before Name Change?

Background:

Was raised in the restaurant business and am now planning to convert a franchise to an independent. The only cooking equipment the store has is a deck oven. Want to put in fryers (mainly for wings), a range, cheesemelter and walk-in cooler. Currently we do pizza, pasta, sandwiches, salads and oven-baked wings. We have been steadily increasing sales since the the purchase and hit $46,000 in June of which 75% is pizza – Take-out Delivery – owner operated.

Looking at a project cost of about $50,000 to put in the new equipment, give the front a facelift/new look and development of a new logo, website etc. The payment for the line of credit would be less than the current franchise fees.

I am excited about the new menu and just about ready to move forward but wonder if I should hold off on the kitchen remodel or not. I will be doing a lot of extra advertising at first to get my new name out there and would really like to put my best foot forward with the better wings and products that a full kitchen can give. Plus, not having a walk-in is tapping us out for space and we currently have to prepare certain products at another store since we lack the kitchen.

Or I can play it safe with cash and just change the name with a new facelift and do the kitchen later??? The current products will not change either way.

My heart wants to go ahead with the kitchen but my head says to bounce this off some more people. Any thoughts or ideas would be greatly appreciated.

I can not imagine going without the walkin… let alone at 10000 a week. If that tips the balance on the remodel… well that pretty much sums it up doesn’t it?

not to sound cliche, but you only have one chance to make a first impression…i would do the kitchen now

If it’s a del-co only and you can “hide” the kitchen from the customer, I’d do the facelift and name change first.

The big question though is can the current kitchen tide you over? The big chains are always introducing something new, so adding wings in a couple of months is just an advertising point.

Hello pirate,I would definitely do the kitchen changes a.s.a.p. you can always do a nice Grand Opening w/ the name change and face lift.

                       Niccademo

Agreed. Been open for business 6 weeks with kitchen in place, and dining room a little scary. Now, on July 28, we will have a ‘grand opening’ party to showcase the dining room and announce dine-in service resuming.

Dunking booth, grilled pizzas, live entertainment, door prizes, and more.

If I were not going through a name change it would be a no brainer for me going into the busier part of the year, but the name change scares me.

I’m obviously not living high off the hog here in SoCal. Couple contractors told me I can probably get by without the grease trap but if not, that would be an extra 10k.

Pizza quality, taste and portions will not change but you know how people are. They will think its different anyway or blame any mistake on the change. When I first bought the place I immediately received comments on how the pizza was not the same and everyone was new. Still had same crew and nothing was changed product wise or operationally. I would think customers would be more confident this time around since its the same ownership.

It just scares me to think we are going to scare off some people when we answer the phone under a different name.

So why do you have to hide it? I would say… and I am not a marketing genius BTW… Let them know right up front what you are doing. Tell them " We are breaking free from the pack and adding all the things to our store that you, our loyal customers, have requested. We are going to do a remodel, add some great new stuff to the menu and you get the benefit of the same crew and the same quality. No wild and crazy management changes, just the same great service with even better additions. ANd for your patience while we remodel AND YOUR DEDICATED SERVICE we are planning a grand opening on blah blah date and we are going to be giving away gold plated rubber bands (insert cool something-or-other here) to the first whatever customers. Keep your eyes peeled because its all about you!!!

Crap, give away a free side of wings to the first 50 orders and they will be happy as a clam. They will know what you are doing, see the progress and see the same faces and they won’t get spooked. People are crazy that way. Make them feel as if they were the reason that you are upgrading the store and offering new stuff. Ego boosters are good business.

I know where you are coming from but don’t fear change.

We got a similar response when we took over the store because the other guy had been there 8 years. We changed nothing at first but some people swore black and blue we changed everything from sizes to prices. The only positive we got was how clean the place now was.

After 6 months we completely changed the name, did a re-fit with completely different decor, 80% closed off the open view kitchen, brought in uniforms, new menu design (old prices and pizza descrptions) etc.

We answered the phone “Pizza Pizzazz Currambine” and some people said (and still do 12 months later) “is that Currambine Pizza & Pasta?”. We replied that we are now called Pizza Pizzazz but evrything is much the same as under the previous name.

One thing we did on our new menus was to put in small print under our new name - (formerly Currambine Pizza & Pasta).

It has worked out no problem for us and in fact we have gone from strength to strength since the makover and name change.

I have no regrets for changing and would do so quicker next time around, albeit that our name brand is now very strong.

If your product is good, your service is top notch and customers are made to feel important and are openly welcomed then you have nothing to fear. The more you procrastinate the more you will fear the change.

Just think of Nike and … go for it !!!

Dave

We have changed names TWICE in three years :shock: We bought (a) Pizza Stop which had adequate product and spartan decor. We made it (b)Nick’s Pizza Stop When we bought it to let people know it is new managers, food, service, etc while maintaining the name recognition. We’ve been able to get people to shorten it to Nick’s Pizza over that time. Now, with new build out, we are slipping the name a little more to © Nick’s Pizzeria to shed the old original stigma and make it totally our own. People are loving it. We’ve used our same logo, signage and the like in this last incarnation by simply changing “Pizza Stop” to “Pizzeria”.

We just haven’t sprung for the new box plates to get them printed differently with new name/logo design.

We have had few regrets and never looked back. Be bold and definitive in your identity, and people will follow along. You may have to guide them more in the beginning, but this is what people refer to as “branding” issues: Getting recognition and emotional connection to the name and identity that you build. It takes a little investment at the front end, but can be a huge marketing windfall.