ATLANTA — (Jan 25, 2010) – Recent consumer research indicates that emerging fast casual concept, Stevi B’s Pizza, is quickly surpassing other buffet concepts and positioning itself alongside the major competitors in the pizza category. The study, conducted by Alexander Babbage, shows that consumers have come to prefer Stevi B’s because its specialty pizzas have that great “pizzeria” taste, prepared with dough made fresh daily. President of Stevi B’s Pizza, Matthew Loney, is “excited that consumers are confirming what we’ve always believed; if we continue to honor our promise to provide premium ingredients and unique pizza offerings, people will respond.”
In 2010, the company encourages consumers to enjoy these unique offerings at Stevi B’s or at home as it places a greater emphasis on the To-Go side of the business. Having successfully rebranded itself in 2009 to reflect its commitment to having the category’s highest quality foods, Stevi B’s has created an impressive menu of programs to roll out in 2010. Among these are a new store design, a co-op structure to extend national marketing and generous franchisee and manager incentives to further grow the brand.
Under Loney’s Leadership
Since taking over in 2009 following a stint with eccentric gourmet pizza brand, Mellow Mushroom, Matthew Loney has reinvented almost every aspect of the company. He hired two nationally recognized boutique firms – advertising (Innovative Advertising) and public relations – (Trevelino/Keller); rebranded the company to reflect its commitment to fresh ingredients and unique pizzas; launched its first system-wide marketing campaign; commissioned two extensive consumer research studies by Alexander Babbage and designed a new restaurant prototype. And along the way, Loney increased EBITDA performance in company-owned restaurants by 34 percent and the number of franchised restaurants grew by more than 20 percent. In the first quarter of 2010, his plans remain ambitious with an emphasis on both existing locations and growing the brand with new franchisees.
Co-ops Coming in 2010
Stevi B’s is rolling out an aggressive co-op strategy to support its franchise base with 13 co-ops scheduled to launch in the first quarter across Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina, Michigan and Ohio. The co-op strategy will serve to merge advertising, marketing and promotional efforts together to arm local franchisees with more tools to reach consumers, including social media efforts and more extensive broadcast media placement.
Growing the Franchise
Also not in keeping with many buffet concepts, Stevi B’s is pursuing more “A” real estate, moving away from “B” and “C” to align the brand with more like-minded brands such as Publix, Barnes & Noble, Panera Bread and others that reflect the higher quality products it serves. Beyond its real estate strategy, Stevi B’s formed a purchasing association to reduce overall food costs and elevate “best practices” throughout the system. Savings to date total more than a half million dollars in reduced food and paper costs. The purchasing initiative comes on the heels of the company’s successful development of a new store prototype that shaved off $150,000 from its previous build-out cost.
Incentives to Buy and Perform
As an incentive to grow the franchise while securing strong franchisees, Loney is rolling out four month-long promotions in 2010 for new franchisees who sign up. Kicking it off was a “Buy One, Get One Free” incentive. For any franchisee that signed an agreement during the month of January 2010, the franchise fee for their second location will be waived if they franchise a second location within two years. In addition, Stevi B’s is launching a “Manager Own It” program whereby managers can earn significant financial incentives based on annual store performance. These funds will go into a pooling account. When the manager hits $100,000 and wants to own a Stevi B’s, the company will match the $100,000. The program is currently being tested in 2010 at corporate stores.
“We couldn’t be more optimistic about our brand in 2010. The Alexander Babbage studies reinforced to us that we are differentiating ourselves in the right ways, but we have huge, untapped opportunities within the pizza category,” explains Loney. “We intend to take advantage of the consumers’ appetite for great pizza, whether it is one of our specialty pizzas or a creation of their own.”
About Stevi B’s Pizza
Stevi B’s Pizza, the industry’s only national “premium” pizza buffet restaurant franchise, was founded in 1996 in Atlanta. Recently purchased by Argonne Capital, an Atlanta private equity firm focused on growing restaurant and retail companies into category leaders, Stevi B’s Pizza currently has 31 franchised and four company-owned locations in seven states throughout the United States. Recognized for serving the highest quality pizzas “made from scratch,” Stevi B’s is a family friendly, community-driven brand that offers a distinct menu of specialty pizzas such as the Loaded Baked Potato, Chicken Fajita, Cheeseburger and Spinach Alfredo served fresh and at a great value in an atmosphere that is fun for adults and children. Follow Stevi B’s Pizza on Twitter at www.twitter.com/stevibs or on Facebook at