Major Scooters Pizza franchise holder, Sheldon Williams, has converted nine of his 16 Scooters Pizza stores to Domino’s Pizza outlets. His other five stores are expected to convert next month, and the last two conversions are set for later this year. This project is part of the nationwide conversion of all Scooters Pizza and St Elmo’s pizzerias to Domino’s Pizza being implemented by Master Franchisee, Taste Holdings, in its bid to position Domino’s Pizza as the number one pizza company in sub-Saharan Africa.
Williams, who bought his first two Scooters Pizza outlets in partnership with his wife, Lisa in December 2006, says his own personal goal is to see Domino’s Pizza become the number one pizza offering in every neighbourhood he trades in.
“We’ve primarily grown our footprint in the industry by acquiring existing stores at premium rates,” he explains. “We saw an opportunity to purchase stores that were under duress, and implement our controls and procedures to drive sales up and costs down. Not only did we see an opening in the market for the Domino’s Pizza SA brand for these stores, we also identified stores that already have the backing of the local community, and have good practice and controls in place.
“However, in addition to the support provided by Taste Holdings, the foundation of our success in recent years derives from creating a structure of independently run stores, with area managers overseeing groups of outlets. We also employ an operational manager, in-house bookkeeper and HR manager, and recently appointed our own training manager. I believe in creating an environment in each store that encourages staff to perform to their best potential – they need to enjoy being at work and find satisfaction in what they do, no matter what the task. Therefore, all our staff are incentivised which, in turn, has driven our positive results even higher.”
He says that Domino’s Pizza is differentiated from other pizza brands by three key factors: the brand’s in-store experience, the heightened time awareness that ensures each customer’s order is treated with the utmost importance, and the product itself, which he believes is ”truly the best pizza offering in the country”.
Customers walking through the doors of any one of Williams’ converted Domino’s Pizza stores can expect to be wowed by an electric in-store experience. Each store has a theatre of pizza design, allowing customers to see first-hand see how Domino’s Pizza is hand-crafted using fresh dough and the highest quality ingredients.
“A consistently high level of service and far-reaching delivery footprint have always been our strengths and will continue to drive a level of service difficult to match in the marketplace,” he says. “The product will speak for itself – the best promotional tool is word of mouth. However, we do have a very aggressive and comprehensive marketing launch plan; we will be out on the streets wobble boarding, dropping menus, and even including some side sampling on selected days.
“Local store marketing is pivotal to ensuring the stores have the backing of the community and being involved in local projects has been key to growing our footprint. You’ve got to get the brand out there and be seen in order to get consumers to come and try out the product – and then retain them with a perfect experience.”
Williams believes the fundamental elements to running a successful franchise are hard work, passion for the brand you’re invested in, developing controls and implementing them daily, having buy-in from staff, and implementing a strategy that mirrors that of the franchisor. Another big advantage is having the support of a hugely successful global brand like Domino’s Pizza.
He says the biggest misconception in the franchising industry today is that franchisees don’t have to have hands-on involvement in the business or have their own business plan, because the brand will do everything for them. The best advice he can offer prospective franchisees is to ensure that the site they have in mind is within the right target market and that they have a solid plan in place to run the store. Besides the usual financial queries around set-up costs, royalty structure, etc., they should also understand the overall strategy of the franchise and the target market, and know what support and promotional structures would be available to them. He also recommends doing research into the franchise’s results, if it is a listed company, and into the brand’s general performance and growth on a national basis.
“Buying a franchise is a serious investment,” concludes Williams. “I’ve only been involved in one franchise and I’ve always had faith in what it was doing and in the people running it. My affiliation with the franchisor is more a relationship than a partnership. There will always be differing opinions, and good and bad times in the business, but being part of a franchise system means that you have to buy into the brand and give it your all, even if you don’t always agree with the franchisor. Ultimately, both parties have the same objective – growth and profit.”
Opinion piece shared by PR Worx.