Twenty-five years and 127 locations later,
Adrie Groeneweg, Pizza Ranch president and
co-founder, stands before the original location
that opened in 1981.
It all started with one small pizza store in a town of 1800 people in 1981. Now, 25 years later, Pizza Ranch has grown into a restaurant chain with 127 locations in over 6 States.
The stores feature a great menu that includes pizza and chicken.
More recently, Pizza Ranch restaurants have added a buffet, which has proved very popular with a whole new slice of the Midwestern market, opening growth opportunities for the franchise.
“With SpeedLine, we’re really getting the information we need in real time, which allows us to do a much better analysis of our menu and menu items.”
“When we test out a new item,” says Jon Moss, chief operating officer for Pizza Ranch, “we need to decide whether it should become part of our regular menu.” How much is the item really selling? Are sales increasing or decreasing as novelty wears off? “With SpeedLine, we’re really getting the information we need in real time,” says Jon, “which allows us to do a much better analysis of our menu and menu items.”
A POS Partnership
The partnership between Pizza Ranch and SpeedLine started more than three years ago with installations in a number of franchise locations. Later, the chain test-drove SpeedLink Enterprise, SpeedLine’s multi-unit online management information service. Satisfied with the trial, Pizza Ranch made SpeedLine their exclusive POS provider. The system helped the corporate office automate many time-consuming data collection tasks and make decisions based on real data from all stores.
“SpeedLink gives us the tools we need to separate assumptions from reality”
“SpeedLink gives us the tools we need to separate assumptions from reality,” says Jon. “We can tell how many times in a month our best customers order from us, how much they are spending, and what they are ordering.” “Right now we’re taking customer data from stores and we’re mapping it. That allows us to extrapolate exactly what percentage of our sales is coming from a specific area. We then use that map to create targeted zones for our marketing efforts.”
“Chains that do not want us to beat them to the finish line should get SpeedLine.”
The ability to collect accurate and timely data gives Pizza Ranch a competitive edge: “SpeedLine is our strategic secret,” Jon says with a chuckle. “Chains that do not want us to beat them to the finish line should get SpeedLine.”
Community Involvement and Grassroots Marketing
But targeted marketing and informed decision-making are only two ingredients in the chain’s steady growth; the core of Pizza Ranch’s success remains an unswerving commitment to people. Pizza Ranch owners seek to create a first-class experience for both customers and employees.
But even further, each Pizza Ranch restaurant creates strong ties with community groups such as schools, sport teams, churches and local clubs.
One activity that has become a weekly highlight in many Pizza Ranch restaurants is fundraiser night. Each week a local organization receives 10% of the restaurant’s sales for the evening. Staff members from the charity come to help in the kitchen and dining room, serving guests and nurturing relationships. SpeedLine makes it easy for franchisees to administer these programs.
The benefits of these civic efforts are far-reaching: Pizza Ranch has become a hub for community life in many small towns in the Midwest. “When Pizza Ranch is at its best,” says Jon, “it’s like the old post office of yesteryear. It becomes a gathering spot for the entire community.”
This type of strong community involvement is not about short-term profit, but long-term vision. “This is the stuff we want to do so that we’re in business 20 years from now,” says Scott Davis, a Pizza Ranch franchisee with seven locations and president of Bulldog Marketing, a local store marketing company. “It’s part of what makes us different from the mega-chain place down the street.”
And a pizza chain with a heart is bound to stand out. It’s a recipe for success the rest of the fast food world has yet to copy.