Enjoy Customer mania with a Global Brand

By leveraging its huge national network and growing online customer database, Pizza Hut is offering UK entrepreneurs the opportunity to become multi-site owners enjoying a unique customer reaction. Stuart Anderson finds out more from Franchise Director Sanjiv Razdan

If you have an interest in operating a business under one of the world's biggest brands, then the news that Pizza Hut is targeting the opening of 30 to 40 new delivery stores next year will certainly be of interest. That the company is committed to offering the 'lion's share' of those opportunities as franchises may serve to compound that interest.

'We're restricting company growth to existing pockets because we find that franchisees are better placed to help us exploit growth opportunities the lengths and breadth of the country,' reveals Sanjiv Razdan, the company's new Franchise Director (pictured, right). 'We are definitely looking to bring in more and more operators who have the ability to operate a minimum of three to four stores. While we will welcome single unit operators, our focus is on bringing people with multi-site ambitions into our franchise family.'

Sanjiv's background with Pizza Hut stretches back 13 years, most recently overseeing the smooth running of 75 Pizza Hut delivery stores in Greater London with a focus on growing sales and profits. Sanjiv is bringing this same focus to his new responsibility overseeing the national franchisee network. 'From a business perspective our primary objective is to drive profitable sales growth,' he reflects. 'We want to do that in a manner where we continue to improve our customer service and differentiate our offering from the competition. Our ability to do that is incumbent on our recruitment of passionate franchisees capable of connecting with the brand.'

Pizza Hut has invested in consumer research to identify how to strengthen its pizza delivery offering, and the company has built a product offering and service platform around that insight to deliver what it terms 'customer mania'. 'One of the benefits of belonging to the world's largest restaurant chain (as a 100 per cent subsidiary of the Yum! Brands group) is that we have access to the best practices, innovations, deals and customer insights developed through 34,000 restaurants across the world,' says Sanjiv. 'We provide franchisees with an innovative product pipeline as well as strong consumer insights. We work with our franchisees in a collaborative and engaging manner to create high impact advertising and an effective marketing calendar. We are also able to leverage the scale of our business across Pizza Hut worldwide when it comes to supply chain and sourcing giving us a significant buying advantage.

''Customer mania' is all about encouraging behaviour within our team members that delights customers and exceeds their expectations. We are placing a lot of emphasis and effort around building the 'customer mania' mindset within our internal teams, and our franchisees have access to that entire service platform.'

Pizza Hut franchisees receive a huge boost to their businesses through the company's online orders, which allows customers to order deliveries immediately or in the future directly from the nearest delivery store. 'The online ordering service is increasingly driving strong sales performance for us,' reveals Sanjiv. 'It was launched less than a year ago and already accounts for up to 15 per cent of our sales - in the first six months we took over £5 million. We have also just launched the Direct Mail which allows franchisees to tailor specific offers for individual customers relevant to them and their ordering history.'

Pizza Hut's support for its franchisees extends to assisting in site acquisitions, project management, IT support for hardware and software, operations training and coaching staff. 'We have a one system approach, making available all our services and support to our franchisees as we would to company-owned restaurants,' says Sanjiv. 'Of course the biggest benefit to all of our franchisees is our very strong 'brand halo' - customers have grown up with us and accessed our brand for their whole lives, enabling them to emotionally connect with us.'