This is a question that we get asked every day by our operator partners. When people see the numbers, they find it hard to believe. Besides the fundamentals — high quality product, premium pricing, minimal discounts and aggressive marketing — there is another reason why we have had added success: we have hundreds of pizzas sold weekly before we ever open our doors for business.
La Nova sells as many pizzas as we can possibly sell to outside venues that do not have the ability to produce hot items. Like most new business, the idea came from a demand in the market. Luckily for us, we had the capabilities to fill that need. And we strategize a way that does not affect our normal business during the day. We produce and deliver the product during non-peak business hours. Some of the product leaves the door before we open, and the balance is sent out during late hours and soft time in the afternoons.
Our largest segment of this type of business is C-stores. In Buffalo, New York, as in a lot of cities I visit, there are a lot of convenience store locations that do not have foodservice production. They have a steady stream of customers coming through the door and welcome a solution that allows for them to find new incremental income opportunities. We purchase pizza warmers and “loan” them to the facilities. They are La Nova branded and signage is provided. We then deliver them the pizzas and wings that they can then sell to their customers. We sell the product to them at a price point that allows them to double their money. Some of our partners get up to $3 a slice for the specialty pizzas.
One issue that came up is how to ensure that the stores are selling our pizza. We monitor the amount of business they do to ensure they are buying from La Nova. Our managers have a master sheet that they can cross-reference to make sure that the frequencies of purchases are there. If they make a decision to sell a competitive item, we remove the warmer and find another partner to use it. Believe me, when you start to look at all of the locations that have high foot traffic and no cooking facilities, the options are there.
As time has gone on, we have developed some new outlets that have the same fundamental structure to them. In Buffalo, there is a saturated area downtown that has all of the bars and nightclubs that are popular called the Chippewa district. There are more than ten different locations that do not have foodservice capabilities. This is another perfect fit for the warmer program. These operators lose customers due to the fact that they do not serve food. They were begging for some type of solution and the same system we used for the C-stores worked for them. We place the warmer there on peak evenings, they use one employee to serve the product and double their money on the food. More importantly to them, they keep their customers in-house. It is an easy sell for even the least experienced operator.
We deliver around a hundred or so pizzas before we open daily. On any given Friday or Saturday, we deliver 300 pies to the Chippewa district. Our plates, boxes and napkins are everywhere. People who come from out of the city or even out of town are getting La Nova pizza. The exposure is unbelievable.
Other locations, like hospitals and small local businesses, have also jumped on the program. Independent supermarkets, bus terminals and little league stadiums all have a need. With a small investment in the warmers and some maintenance, the amount of growth this system has given us has really helped drive sales.
We work on a C.O.D. basis with all of the clients and they are happy to oblige. The markets are developed without a large investment. We actually will be able to add new locations due to the fact that buyers in the area are looking for our pizza now. It is a customer-driven system that is very low management. Just one of the ways you can add business without tearing into your bottom line.