Piccadilly delivers a foodservice fit for Iron Bridge
Richard Ferramosca felt hopeless. A trained chef, he’s no stranger to the workings of a kitchen, but he was nearing the decade mark in his search for a foodservice program ideal for his Iron Bridge Stations (Powhatan, VA). He had tried everything—from a local upscale franchise that couldn’t compete on price (the cheapest sandwich was $4.95) to a barbeque lessee who didn’t take the initiative. Almost 10 years after beginning the search, Ferramosca found himself back at square one.
“I have a pretty strong background with foodservice and am capable of making some reasonable decisions, but these programs weren’t working for us,” says Ferramosca, general manager of the five-store chain. “I began combing the Internet and investigating some more local programs when I came across Piccadilly Circus Pizza. They had all the right answers and so the decision was a no-brainer. I can’t tell you how pleased I am.”
Piccadilly Circus Pizza was designed in 1977 for small town pizzerias. By 1984, it began moving into the c-store industry at a time when foodservice pizza was a new idea for the channel. The company adjusted its procedures and methods to fit operators’ fast-paced needs, and today c-stores represent 97% of Piccadilly’s business— appearing in almost 900 stores. The company’s success is the result of allowing retailers to make good business decisions for themselves.
“We start with site analysis—demographicresearch and working with the owner to see if their store can support foodservice— and provide the owner with enough information to make a good business decision,” says Jerry Ryker, senior vice president for Piccadilly Circus Pizza. “Once they’re on board, our support begins with in-store onsite training—from making the product to profitability analysis to inventory control. Then we create specific marketing plans that fit their needs; essentially a road map for building and maintaining the business. Our job is to provide them with the tools they require to make the program work, but in the end the decisions have to be theirs.”
One thing that intrigued Ferramosca right off the bat was that there was no franchise fee or royalties associated with Piccadilly; he only had to use Piccadilly’s product and image. Piccadilly also supplies the necessary equipment (display cases, proofers, convection ovens, pizza ovens, etc.). A full equipment package cost Iron Bridge just under $30,000, with an additional $5,000 for the first product purchase—an absolute steal in Ferramosca’s eyes.
“A typical franchise fee might run a retailer-$25,000,” he says. “For just a hair over that I got all of my equipment plus a week of training on-site to avoid any downtime losses. That’s unheard of!”
In an area saturated with foodservice competitors, including the “Big Four” branded pizza franchises, Ferramosca was looking for something to set his store apart. With the Piccadilly program, he satisfies all dayparts with breakfast sandwiches, pizzas and subs—offering food 24/7. He supplements the program by selling fresh-baked sub bread as a standalone item for 99¢, and his customers eat it up. The program also grants him the flexibility to offer a local barbeque product rather than Piccadilly’s to satisfy Iron Bridge’s regional customer preference.
“Piccadilly has a fine barbeque program for subs and sandwiches, but I know what my customers expect from their barbeque—it’s a regional preference,” says Ferramosca. “Not only are they okay with my decision, but they offered to do a sign insert for the menuboard using the local program’s graphics.
“The support that Piccadilly offers is really unbelievable,” he adds. “Not only did we get in-store training, but the continuing support is remarkable. They will never tell us not to try [a promotion] or force us to do something, but they will guide us in promotions that best suit our customers. They supply all my signage (posters, banner, POS materials, etc.) for nothing and the quality is absolutely phenomenal—you really don’t expect that kind of quality to come for free. That kind of support is not normal with a franchise. Then again, Piccadilly isn’t just any franchise.”