PizzaRev: Practice Makes Perfect
In its PizzaRev case study series, CSA offers an insider’s look at the conception, initial rollout and growth of the southern California-based fast-casual concept PizzaRev. Likened to “the Chipotle of pizza,” this innovative chain lets customers choose from an artisanal array of toppings to craft their own pizzas very quickly in a high-end stone hearth oven. A test kitchen in Northridge, California, was launched in April 2012 and 10 additional locations followed over the past two years.
In part seven of our series, PizzaRev’s senior management team, Irv Zuckerman and Rodney Eckerman, and exclusive broker and X Team International Partner Bob Haas, review the strategic “Test Kitchen” approach deployed to ensure seamless franchisee openings around the country.
Quick Facts about PizzaRev:
What: Fast-casual, “craft your own” artisanal pizza restaurant
Who: Partners and Co-CEOs Rodney Eckerman and Irv Zuckerman, Partner and COO Nicholas Eckerman, Partner and CMO Jeff Zuckerman, Exclusive Broker Bob Haas, X Team International Partner and Co-Founder of L.A.-based Cypress Retail Group
Current number of stores: 11
Average size: 2,000-3,000 sq. ft.
Recognition: Franchise Times Deal of the Year 2014
While growth through franchising was certainly a priority for southern California-based fast-casual concept PizzaRev, the company leadership knew streamlining processes and ensuring consistent quality in-house in the short term would pay off exponentially in the long run. That’s why the PizzaRev business plan called for a full year of operation in the original store prior to any franchising.
"It just made sense to hone our operations at our stores, and iron out any kinks before offering franchise opportunities,” said Co-CEO Rodney Eckerman. “In fact, we spent every day for an entire year refining our operation in a studied, clinical fashion. We always viewed store one as a test kitchen, and we immediately applied our changes as stores two and three developed.”
Learning from hands-on experience in store number one, the PizzaRev team remained nimble and applied operational “patches” in real time while opening the second and third store.
"Knowing our first franchisee would be our partner, Buffalo Wild Wings, made our effort even more compelling and fun at the same time,” added partner Irv Zuckerman. “We knew the Buffalo Wild Wings team would respond well to our suggested improvements, and understand our mission to perfect our processes before expanding.”
The test kitchen approach paid off — creating a replicable store-opening model that was seamless, consistent and effective. In May 2014, PizzaRev’s first franchised unit opened in a Minneapolis suburb to rave reviews on all fronts, and no operational hiccups at any level. The model has also been applied to franchisee’s planned openings in Salt Lake City, Orange County, California and Austin, Texas, simplifying the process even though there are three different franchisee groups involved.
"We have extensive resources available to our franchisees through our extranet, providing easy access to and application of the tools needed to successfully launch and manage a PizzaRev store,” said Eckerman. “It is important to deliver a consistent customer experience to every PizzaRev guest, and these resources enable our franchisees to do so easily.”
Providing the right franchisee toolbox will be a strong differentiator for PizzaRev. Better up front planning and enhanced ongoing support to all store operators opens the door to growth potential, and assures PizzaRev franchisees that corporate support will always be there.
“As a result of our test kitchen strategy, we’ve had our ‘skin in the game’ from the beginning, and franchisees understand our level of commitment to the success of every PizzaRev location,” Zuckerman interjected. “That commitment is further evidenced by our continuous updates, testing and troubleshooting to all systems in our company stores before rolling them out to franchisees.”
The PizzaRev leadership team continues to foster a culture of daily active participation with passion for their franchisees, which come from a wide range of brands and disciplines including fast casual, QSR, casual dining and fine dining.
“There’s no question that the franchisee support provided by the PizzaRev team has helped us seal many of the deals we’ve done to date,” commented Bob Haas, exclusive PizzaRev broker, X Team International Partner and Co-Founder of L.A.-based Cypress Retail Group. “It will be a critical component to the continued growth of the franchise.”
"While we know launching a franchise isn’t rocket science, we also acknowledge that it is critical to get it right the first time,” concluded Zuckerman. “Treating the test kitchen process with anything less than a serious effort shortchanges what we are all about — providing an outstanding guest experience that fuels our interactive model.”
Dollar General seeks new CEO
The Rick Dreiling era is coming to an end at Dollar General as the chairman and CEO announced plans to retire next year, initiating a search internally and externally for a successor.
Dreiling advised Dollar General of his intent to retire as CEO effective May 30, 2015 or upon the appointment of a successor. Following the appointment of a new CEO, which could happen sooner than next year, Dreiling agreed to serve at the discretion of the board of directors as chairman during a transition period following the appointment of the new CEO. Dreiling’s retirement date and any agreement regarding continued service on the board are expected to be finalized as part of a retirement agreement, according to the company.
Dreiling, 60, has served as CEO of Dollar Genera since January 2008 and was named chairman of the board in December 2008. Under his leadership, the company’s annual sales have increased more than 80% to $17.5 billion in 2013 and the company’s store count has increased by 38% to more than 11,000 stores in 40 states.
"Dollar General is a great company because of our people and our mission of ‘serving others.’ I am extremely proud of Dollar General’s track record of success over the past six years, and I am honored to have had the opportunity to lead such an experienced and talented team. Dollar General is in a strong position today, and I’m confident it has excellent prospects for the future. After considerable reflection, I am at a point where it is appropriate to begin to plan for my retirement. I plan to work with the board of directors on recruiting and mentoring a new CEO," Dreiling said.
“The board is confident the company is well-positioned as we search for a new CEO. We’re fortunate to have Rick in his role until the new CEO assumes these duties,” said Dollar General’s lead director Mike Calbert.
Weather Trends: July 2014
WTI expects July 2014 to trend similar to last year for the U.S. as a whole. The East will trend near normal or cooler than normal, while warmer than normal temperatures will be confined to the West. Overall, the peak of the summer is shaping up to be very similar to 2013 but with a few major timing differences. Unlike 2013, the hotter weather in 2014 will be back-end loaded in the month just as back-to-school shopping begins, which is a negative for early fall apparel, but favorable for clearing out summer inventory. A cooler Fourth of July week in the Northeast and West will drag on sun care and beverage sales, but a spell of warmer weather later in the month will help to recover some earlier holiday loses. Tropical activity will continue to be subdued, especially during the first half of the month, but there may be a slight pick up later in July with the highest risk areas being south Florida and Texas.
Weather Trends International offers year-ahead business weather forecasts and intelligence to hundreds of major retailers, suppliers, and we also support many commodity/energy traders. We offer an unparalleled competitive advantage by helping our clients proactively plan for the weather up to a year in advance. For more information on what we can do for you, please contact Jack Grum [email protected] or call 610-807-0118.