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    How Mr. Gatti's is Reenergizing a Beloved Brand

  • The pizza chain wants to grow to 300 locations by 2022.

    Mr. Gatti's Pizza
    Communication within the company is key to ensuring that everyone is on the same page when it comes to a reboot.

    There have been some iconic brands in the quick-service restaurant archives, and each one has seen changes throughout the years. In fact, every brand experiences a time when change is necessary to keep guests excited to come back.  

    For Mr. Gatti’s, the love for this iconic pizza joint goes all the way back to 1969. Generations of people remember visiting Mr. Gatti’s as a child, spending countless hours with friends and family at the buffet or playing games in the arcade. But with a long and memorable past comes the other hurdles of time, including remodels, relevant updates, aging neighborhoods, and more.

    The acquisition of the Mr. Gatti’s brand in 2015 took all of this on in order to reconnect with loyal consumers. And to jumpstart the initiative, we knew we needed to put some skin in the game with new corporate-owned locations, remodels, reenergizing the menu, increasing franchise support and marketing for the system, all in order to embrace a big goal: start franchising again.

    Last year our organization awarded the first franchise for the Gatti’s brand in seven years for a Gatti’s Pizza that opened in Killeen, Texas this past March. Killeen officially marks our return to franchising and kicked off a national development campaign with a goal to grow to 300 locations by 2022.

    How did we do it?

    Here are three key factors to help re-energize a brand:

    Financing

    One of the most important aspects of any business, whether you are just starting out or working to rebuild a beloved brand, is money. Investing in the future of your brand and your franchisees ensures that guests will continue to be delighted by your product for years to come.

    Franchisors who want to reenergize a brand have to walk the walk and talk the talk. Investing in corporate-owned locations can allow you to prove your concept in new markets and get new customers and franchisees excited about the future.

    This all starts with building a strong headquarters team. Recruit a dedicated staff that can see the vision for your brand, gather the right resources including architects and design teams for the new prototype, and then get to work making the big picture decisions.

    Internal Communications

    Some of the most important people in your organization are your operators. Communication within the company is key to ensuring that everyone is on the same page when it comes to a reboot. Engage existing franchisees for feedback, update your communication pipeline, and establish relationships through field visits to make sure everyone is committed to your brand. Then look for every avenue to relay that communication again and again. And when it’s time to host your convention, make it count. Conventions are a fantastic place to introduce everyone to new ideas and prototypes, and answer questions before anything is rolled out.

    Marketing

    Marketing is that final influential step to any brand looking to spread its message. You need to master the message and not just focus on getting customers, but more importantly turning consumers into evangelists.

    At the heart of all marketing is a good story-teller. Being able to strategically convey a message while utilizing all the tools at your disposal is a calculated art-form. It’s important to understand that no idea is too big or too small, and ultimately the message is what matters most.

    After several years of flat growth, everything is a celebration and worth announcing, from the debut of the new prototype, new signed franchise agreements, the launch of LTOs and new menu items and of course the grand openings of new locations, both corporate owned and franchised.

    Bringing a beloved brand into a new era, where guests have more choices than ever, can be a difficult task. But with the right team, vision and resources, your brand can start a new chapter attracting old and new guests alike for generations to come.

    Michael Poates has served as president of Mr. Gatti's since June 2015. He previously served as president of multi-unit Dairy Queen Franchisee in Fort Worth, Texas, as well as chief operating officer at Roundtable Corporation and its RCDQ Subsidiaries Dairy Queen in Dallas/Fort Worth.