Hungry Howie’s Celebrates 45 Years in Business: Pizza chain reaches 31 consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth.
Open since 1973, Hungry Howie’s is celebrating 45 years in business. Much of its success stems from the brand’s focus on innovation to drive positive growth. In December of 2017, the brand completed its 31st quarter of consecutive same-store sales growth, and so far, it is continuing that trend in 2018.
“We have a value-conscious product, and that’s what we offer our customers,” says Steve Jackson, president and CEO of Hungry Howie’s. “We’ve been copied by everyone at different times, but we innovated flavored crusts in the early 80s, and it makes us very unique.”
Many pizza chains suffered losses during the economic crisis in 2008, and being based in Michigan, Hungry Howie’s felt the economic strain during the auto industry’s decline. Despite these challenges, the brand made quick changes and invested in its future.
Hungry Howie’s was able to rebuild through remodels, marketing, and investments in technology that have paid off for the brand and franchisees alike. One important change was the move to a unified POS system across the stores. Not only did this allow the pizza chain to monitor locations, but it allowed Hungry Howie’s to roll out an app to give franchisees access to real-time data about their stores on their phones. It also gave the brand new marketing tools to reach out to customers with data already available.
“The beauty of the pizza business is the information we have on our customers,” Jackson says. “Most restaurants don’t have a name or an email address for their customers, but we have a name, address, email, and phone number. We know when and what they order.”
Hungry Howie’s began partnering with data scientists to make the most of this information. The brand deployed a marketing strategy to determine when customers miss their regular orders and then add them to a lapse program. In this program, these customers receive product offers to incentivize them to return. If they still don’t come back, they are given even more attractive offers. “One-and-done” customers are also monitored and sent offers to encourage repeat visits.
“We have a sequence to really watch our customers,” Jackson says. “We use all this data to fuel our same-store sales.”
Hungry Howie’s currently boasts 549 locations in 20 states but is looking to expand in almost every state. Though the brand does have opportunities available for single-unit franchisees, experienced multi-unit operators are desired to help grow the company.
“We are especially looking for people who operate 10, 20, or 25 units of other brands, who are successful in their marketplaces, and understand the infrastructure, pitfalls, and highs and lows of restaurant ownership.”
Once brought on board, these franchisees can expect a robust online training program, as well as on-site support from marketing and operations teams to help with opening. Each store also receives a customized marketing plan for a successful launch.
Though Hungry Howie’s has a long history, its continued innovation and drive to increase same-store sales growth have given the brand the agility needed to stay competitive in today’s market. “So far in the first few weeks of 2018, our same-store sales growth continues to be positive,” Jackson says. “We’ve done a lot of good things over the years, and we’ve made our chain look like a national brand.”
For more information about franchising opportunities with Hungry Howie’s, visit www.HungryHowies.com
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