The dream had come true: Customers poured in the doors; Phones kept ringing; Orders flew in. After a slow start, Pablo's Pizza was coming into its own. But Paul and Kaci Knaysi felt out of control.
Struggling to keep up with the business, they realized they needed help: They scrapped their pen and paper methods and installed a SpeedLine POS. “SpeedLine was a godsend,” Paul says. “It saved our business.”
Plans, Dreams, and Hard Work
Paul and Kaci moved from their hometown to a brand new city, to open their first pizzeria.
Prior, Paul worked as a medical social worker and Kaci as a physical therapist. Neither had owned a restaurant before. “We were both tired of the medical field,” says Paul. “We wanted to work for ourselves, invest in a community, and have the potential to earn more than we were. We also wanted to live in a smaller town with more sunshine.”
They didn’t move into the unknown on a whim. They spent three years testing recipes, writing a business plan for a gourmet pizzeria, and working out financing. They also scouted real estate in sunnier climes.
They heard about their new location from a friend who lived there. “We saw the potential,” says Paul. “There were no gourmet pizzerias and no one was doing what we wanted to do. It’s a cute town; the weather is nice and it’s a great place for outdoor activities. We figured the town was bound to catch on. So we took the plunge.”
The old restaurant building they bought in the heart of their city needed a lot of elbow grease. The carpet was revolting, and the beautiful tin ceiling was caked with dark paint. “We put a lot of money into the place,” Paul says. “We painted and put in hardwood floors, and we decorated with mismatched, antique furniture and art prints.”
Paul and Kaci named the store after Pablo Picasso, whose creativity and charisma transformed the art world. They wanted their menu to have the same revolutionary impact on their customers' taste buds.
From the time the Knaysis arrived to opening day, six months went by. “Everybody in town had said they were excited about having a gourmet pizzeria open in town,” Paul recalls. “So at first, we were very surprised to find that we weren’t busy.”
Downtown, at that time, was suffering from years of neglect. The town was little more than a stopover for traffic between neighboring cities. But things were changing. Local wineries began to transform the sleepy town into a popular tourist destination. Other nearby attractions also drew tourists. At the same time, the Downtown Business Association, of which Kaci was a part, pioneered a farmer’s market that became wildly successful: “Every Thursday night, for about four months, the downtown streets are packed with up to 8000 people visiting the market, “ Paul says. “People got in the habit of coming downtown again.”
To take advantage of festivals and markets, the Knaysis purchased a booth and a portable oven. Even their four-year-old daughter, Sophia, gets involved by handing out drinks. “She really tries to help,” Paul says, “even if we don’t really need it. But our customers love it. She gets tips…She saves them in a special piggy bank to buy princess stuff.”
With new vitality in the downtown area, the doldrums at Pablo’s were over and sales were up. But what should have been a boon became a serious problem. “We just had one cash register and a complicated menu,” Paul recalls, “and taking orders with pen and paper, we really got bogged down. I’m sure we lost customers because of badly written orders and lost delivery tickets.”
“We were growing so fast, we couldn't keep up,” Paul says. “Things were out of control.” So they decided to purchase a POS system, installing SpeedLine POS.
“We saw improvements right away,” Paul explains.“To begin with, our order taking time decreased by 50% and we had fewer mistakes and forgotten extras. We also stopped losing money to employees undercharging.”
“Some of our customers really appreciate the option of running a tab,” Paul continues. “So we like SpeedLine’s house account feature. We can also give customers credits when we need to. That’s awesome because when we can respond to a problem by offering a credit, it basically guarantees customers will come back.”
The first year after the Knaysis installed SpeedLine, sales grew by 40%. “We had some record days,” Paul recalls. “Because of SpeedLine, we didn’t have to call in extra staff to keep up. In fact we were actually able to cut back on staff because we were that much more efficient. Today, we do triple the volume we were doing when we first opened and we have the same amount of staff. And we could grow another 20 or 30% and handle it just fine. We had some record days. Because of SpeedLine we didn't have to call in extra staff to keep up. In fact, we were actually able to cut back on staff because we were that much more efficient.”
Their POS system also helped them manage deliveries. Although Pablo’s Pizza started primarily as a dine-in restaurant, delivery and take-out business has grown over the years, and it now represents about 35% of the restaurants’ total sales.
“We like having two POS stations,” Paul says. “We can do takeout and delivery easily on one while we’re taking orders on the other. And when we get really busy, we can take orders on both.” Other administrative tasks became less burdensome as well: “Our system saved us four hours a month in payroll alone,” Paul says.
With SpeedLine on the frontline, Paul and Kaci found they could breathe easier. “We were able to hire a manager,” Paul says, “so we didn’t need to be in the restaurant all the time. That was a highlight: I have two young children, and I really want to lead a balance life and be with them as much as possible.”
The Knaysis moved from merely surviving to finding new ways to enhance their business. They launched a website that captured the restaurant’s eclectic spirit and gourmet flair.
Their menu, which customers can view online, features nine sauces, 45 toppings, 27 specialty pizzas, eight salads, and a selection of soups, sandwiches, desserts and beverages. It reflects the Knaysis’ commitment to using no cheap ingredients and making each pizza a work of art.
The extensive menu at Pablo’s reflects the Knaysis’ commitment to quality pizza and making each pizza a work of art.
Pablo’s Best Sellers:
- Punk’s Pesto Mania: a red sauce, cheese pizza, with basil, pesto, roasted tomatoes and feta cheese
- Popeye’s Passion: garlic, olive oil sauce, mozzarella, mushrooms, onions, roasted peppers, feta and spinach
- Lip Smackin’ Insanity: garlic, olive oil, mozzarella, spinach, sausage, artichoke, goat cheese, and roasted tomatoes
When competition in town heated up, the Knaysis took it in stride and stayed the course: “There are new pizza places in town,” Paul says, “but even the other gourmet places do not do it quite the way we do. We’ve been able to maintain quality, no matter what. The price of cheese may go up, but we want to keep using the best ingredients. We figure that over time, it’s worth paying more.”
Pablo’s customers think so too: Their community voted their pizzeria the Best of the West in 2005. “That was quite an honor,” Paul says. “Generally, the big chains win these awards, because they’re well-known. It was nice to see that our community is supporting us. We’re very proud of that.”
At first glance, Pablo’s Pizza’s eclectic style may seem impossible to replicate. Yet, this year, the Knaysis successfully launched their first franchise, 20 miles from their first location.
“It took a long time to get through all the paperwork,” Paul continues. “It was a nightmare. It took so long, in fact, that our franchisee had to drop out.” But when the next franchising inquiry came, they were ready. “It has been fun,” Paul says. “We helped him with the construction, trained his employees, and got him going. Initially there were lots of phone calls. But now the store is running smoothly.”
“We made SpeedLine mandatory for Pablo’s franchisees,” Paul says. “We didn’t want anybody else to have to go through the junk we went through when we first started.”
“Our experience with SpeedLine has been wonderful. The support is awesome. I like the fact that the software is constantly improving. And we’re not left hanging: The after-sale service really makes SpeedLine stand out. We get newsletters and tools, like the SpeedLine Challenge, that tell us how to use the system better, and how to improve our store. It’s a very holistic approach to selling POS systems.”
What’s next for Pablo’s Pizza? Paul plans to leverage the power of the restaurant website to run an email club.
“We’re planning a mailing to all the customers in our SpeedLine database,” he explains. ‘We want to encourage everyone to visit our website and register for our new Pablo’s Pizza Club. Then we can send all the people who sign up regular email updates with news and coupons. It’s expensive to keep in touch with 7000 customers by mail,” Paul says. “But we can do this affordably with email. For example, we’re doing catering. So we can remind our customers to use our services around the holidays. Or promote new menu items. It’s a great way for us to provide information about Pablo’s.”
Pablo’s website also offers information about franchising. Although there’s no immediate plan to open another store, the Knaysis are ready. “We’re waiting to find the right person,” Paul says.
In the meantime, the Knaysis are living their dream: “We’ve made it,” Paul says, “and we’re happy about that!”