Canadian Pizza Magazine

Features Profiles
Triple Take

Staff has customers seeing more than double cheese


March 25, 2008
By Stacy Bradshaw


Topics

In the summer months, Little Caesars’ Free Ice Cream
Friday campaign makes for some high-traffic evenings at the Chatham,
Ontario location. Canadian Pizza Magazine decided to visit the St.
Clair Street pizza place on a particularly sunny and subsequently busy
Friday night.

Staff has customers seeing more than double cheese

caesarsjuly06
Left to Right: Karissa and Katie Strain, Ian and Eric Warren, and Jessica and Jordan Cruse, three sets of identical twins, are part of a staff of 18 part-time and full-time employees.

In the summer months, Little Caesars’ Free Ice Cream Friday campaign makes for some high-traffic evenings at the Chatham, Ontario location. Canadian Pizza Magazine decided to visit the St. Clair Street pizza place on a particularly sunny and subsequently busy Friday night.

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Mini van after overstuffed mini van delivered droves of famished youngsters who lined up to get their free cones. It was more than enough to keep even the finest of pizza crews on their toes.

But this Little Caesars squad is a particularly efficient, well-oiled machine. The young staffers work with such diligence and speed, customers would almost think they were seeing double. And they’d almost be right.

The regular Friday night shift at this Little Caesars consists of three sets of identical twins: Jessica and Jordan Cruse, Ian and Eric Warren and Karissa and Katie Strain.

No, staffing three sets of twins was not a premeditated marketing gimmick. In fact, co-owner, Mark Demore just seemed to happen upon the six keen recruits. And although they’re certainly a neat novelty for the already fun-loving, family-orientated franchise, the twins are part of a larger crew of 12 part-time and six full-time employees. It’s a staff Demore credits for “everything” when discussing the secrets to his pizza franchise success.

“We have such a good crew … it changes your own attitude.”

Demore and his business partner, brother Mike, realized a long time ago that hiring well can be the difference between running an average franchise location and a high-volume success story like theirs.

Over 21 years in the business has given the Demore brothers plenty of time to pick up a few tips along the way.

Rely on Referrals
It means everything to have a good crew, Mark reiterated. And the only way to guarantee great new staff is to rely on referrals.
“We only hire on referrals,” he said. All three sets of twins told CPM they were hired based on a referral. And all six
considered themselves lucky to receive the “props” from former employees and land a job with the Demores.

“It’s a good team, we all get along together,” said Karissa. And the management is great with hours, added Ian and Eric, who appreciate having the flexibility to work around their busy football schedule.

Demore said by establishing a good name for himself as an employer, he has made certain they will never have problems with labour shortage.

Another reason Demore is able to keep employee turnover at a minimum is because he typically only hires grade nine students. That way, Little Caesars can serve as their part-time job from junior all the way to their senior year of high school.

“They’re rewarded each year with more pay and more responsibility.”

And Demore, in return, has the peace of mind in knowing the restaurant is good hands when he’s not there.
   
Believe in the Brand
When the Demore brothers decided to buy a franchise, they looked for one that had the fundamental qualities of success and a widely recognizable trademark – one that was strong.

After months of research and visiting several franchises in a variety of different industries, the Demore brothers decided on Little Caesars. To them, it stood out above the rest because it was so supportive of its franchisees.

“They simply out performed … it seems like they have a vested interest your store’s success,” said Demore.

When Richard Greville, now senior vice-president and general manager of Little Caesars Canada, took his new position five years ago, he had some very specific goals in mind. Greville had a vision of what Little Caesars could be. Demore said the new mandate for change was straightforward – it’s simply not good enough.

 Little Caesars Rolls Out Drive-Thru
Little Caesars Pizza has opened its first drive-thru location in Canada adding another intriguing element to its unique grab-n-go concept. The new store located on 102-10119 117th Avenue is the second Little Caesars location in Grande Prairie, Alberta.

“We are thrilled to open the first Little Caesars drive-thru location in Canada,” said Brent Cavan, co-owner of the new location. “Little Caesars is continually exploring innovative ways to enhance our speed of service while maintaining the value and taste that our customers have come to expect. This new location offers the ultimate in convenience because customers can use the drive-thru to order from a selection of Hot-N-Ready menu items.”


To live up to the new expectations, Demore was required to make a substantial investment in order to renovate his location from the traditional Little Caesars look to “The New Store Package.” And it wasn’t just the décor, recalled Demore. They switched from electric to gas conveyor ovens, and made other changes to prepare the store for a higher level in sales.

But in order to do this, Demore had to believe in the vision Greville was implementing.

“Some of it you have to take on faith.” Quite simply, he added, “You have to believe in the brand.”

Hot N’ Ready
If there’s one thing that keeps Demore’s faith in the Little Caesars brand rock steady, it’s the Hot N’ Ready concept.
“This is changing the face of pizza … and it’s revitalizing the chain,” Demore said of the Hot N’ Ready model.

Hot N’ Ready, which started out as the five-dollar medium pepperoni pizza guaranteed hot and guaranteed ready when the customer walks in the store, has now expanded to the seven-dollar Canadian pizza and most recently, chicken wings and crazy bread.

The price is competitive; wings and a medium pie for $10 is a great value. But what sets Little Caesars apart is that the customer doesn’t have to wait for it.

“We’re competing head to head with the burger chains,” said an enthusiastic Demore.

He went on to say that no one else in the pizza industry has tried to match the Hot N’ Ready concept. It’s a lot to commit too. And you have to do a lot of projecting.

“It’s very difficult to enter into a campaign like this. In the initial stages, the numbers are changing so it’s all a balancing act. You have to swallow some of the costs at first. It’s the only way to approach it.”

Demore had to make a lot of projections in his years as a Little Caesars franchisee. Two years ago, when the franchise suggested they put a third conveyor in and start aggressively advertising the Hot N’ Ready concept, he had to forecast that the sales would go up and the investment would be worth it.

The Chatham location has since been awarded Gold status under the Little Caesars Franchise Awareness Review.

Customer awareness plays a huge role in the franchise review, explained Demore. If a franchise rep enters the restaurant and is not greeted immediately, then Demore can say good-bye to the Gold. During peek hours, Demore staffs two greeters to welcome people in the lobby. He can guarantee customers will be greeted upon arrival, and then again at the counter.

“It’s an old school thing,” said Demore; something the franchise had him do when he started over 21 years ago. It’s something he prides as being very different in the fast food sector.

With the Hot N’ Ready concept fueling the company’s growth, and most recently, a drive-thru location opened in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Little Caesars is truly competing with the big guys.

And with loyal operators like Demore on the front lines, the Little Caesars brand is sure to continue on as one of Canada’s most
widely recognized pizza trademarks.•


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