Strategic plan of continuous quality improvements and re-branding set stage for even better 2015
A strategic plan designed to transform the brand and improve results across CiCi’s Pizza’s nationwide system has already begun paying off with a second year of strong year-over-year sales growth in 2014, with the positive momentum expected to continue over the next year and beyond.
CiCi’s CEO Darin Harris explained that the company’s focus on continuous improvement in product quality along with a more focused brand strategy and marketing plan have all contributed to two consecutive years of positive same-store sales growth.
In 2014, CiCi’s same-store sales increased by 4.7 percent – the brand’s highest in 18 years and more than five times the QSR industry average – with slightly positive traffic increases. Average unit volume of $969,666 was the company’s highest in the last 19 years. Factoring in continued improvement during the first quarter of 2015, the company has experienced eight consecutive quarters of same store sales growth and a two-year sales growth rate of 9.4 percent.
“We’ve been listening to our guests and we made the changes they asked for, including using 100% real cheese, better quality meats and an improved salad bar,” said Harris. “We also noticed they were leaving their crusts behind and searching for the slices with the most cheese, so we added garlic butter to the crust and more cheese to our pizzas. The response has been outstanding.”
A new marketing campaign – dubbed BETTER. BELIEVE IT! – was rolled out during the year, focused on the improvements made to the buffet lineup. Guest experience tracking surveys indicate that guests intend to increase the frequency of their visits to CiCi’s by 16 percent since the introduction of the new pizzas.
And thanks to a concerted effort to listen more closely to its guests, CiCi’s management now understands better who they are and what they value most in the brand.
“Guests love CiCi’s for the known set price point and the freedom they have to try the flavors they want, without the risk,” said Sarah McAloon, CiCi’s Chief Marketing Officer since September 2014. “This insight has led us to develop a new brand positioning that focuses on feeding individuality by saying yes to the unique tastes of each guest.”
Harris explained that other new initiatives being implemented now will take the nation’s leading pizza buffet restaurant to an even higher level in the months and years ahead.
“Over the last few months, we’ve opened two new prototypes and reimaged one restaurant with a more contemporary design, and they are already generating excellent results,” said Harris. “It’s clear that we’re on the right track and that our guests are reacting positively to the changes we have made.”
CiCi’s ‘restaurant of the future’ is now in development based on the new brand positioning, featuring zoned family and adult sections, a re-designed and themed game room and new technology incorporated throughout the restaurant that will enable guests to satisfy their unique tastes, all of which differentiates CiCi’s from competitive brands.
“We believe our new model restaurant will be a game changer when it’s rolled out,” said Harris.
In addition, CiCi’s newly formed management team and franchise system have united behind a strategic plan that emphasizes across-the-board improvements that will support the entire system-wide operation.
“Ultimately, it all comes down to the fact that we’re in the people business – from our own corporate team to our valued franchisees who are the ones serving our guests every day,” explained Harris. “So we built our strategic plan first around putting the right people in the right places, then creating a process that enables them to focus on the highest-impacting initiatives. Now it’s all about executing the plan to ensure both our corporate and franchisee restaurants continue to maintain positive sales growth while increasing their annual profits.”
“I’m very proud of the incredible progress the entire CiCi’s team has made in such a short period of time,” Harris concluded. “We owe a big debt of gratitude to our franchisees and to our Franchise Advisory Council, who have been an integral part of the revitalization process from the very start. They believe in the direction we’re heading and we are optimistic about the results we can achieve together.”
Coppell, Texas-based CiCi’s Pizza opened its first restaurant in Plano, Texas, in 1985 and has nearly 450 restaurants in 32 states. Known for its endless pizza, pasta, salad, soup and dessert buffet, CiCi’s won the Technomic 2014 Consumers’ Choice award for best kid-friendly quick service restaurant, and has been listed by Zagat and Parents magazine as a top family-friendly restaurant. CiCi’s was recognized by G.I. Jobs as a Military Friendly Franchise, and Entrepreneur named CiCi’s to its Franchise 500 list. For more information about CiCi’s, visit www.cicispizza.com or Facebook.com/cicis.