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My Story

The ‘Pizza

Corner’ Is

On The IT

Road

They sell delicious pizzas and

they know how to sell it

profitably because they add

that extra topping of IT.

Pizza Corner is, beyond doubt,

worthy of imitation.

ANOOP SEQUEIRA

CEO, GFA India Pvt Ltd

BenefIT / January 2007 / 19


My Story

Way back in 1996, when very

few people actually knew

what a pizza was, a young

entrepreneur from abroad thought of

selling it in India. He came to Chennai,

the land of idlis and dosas, and did a

market survey to learn how viable it

was to sell pizzas in India. The study

indicated that he should never venture

into the pizza business here. He threw

the report away and took the risk of

opening the first outlet of Pizza Corner

in the heart of the city. Today, Pizza

Corner has a presence in fifty locations

all over India and is spreading widely

through the franchising route.

Well, the credit actually goes to Fred

Mouawad, the chairman and CEO of

the Geneva-based GFA (Global

Franchise Architects). Pizza Corner, a

true Indian brand, is now a part of GFA

India Pvt Ltd and has a rare story to

share with us, about how the brand

became synonymous with pizzas.

Expanding the base

Today, Pizza Corner has a presence in

most big and small cities in the country.

Within a span of eight to ten months

after the initial launch, the company

managed to open four new outlets in

D Venkata Subramaniam, Assistant Vice President-IT

Chennai. But the beginning was tough.

“The lifestyle in India at that time

was totally different and no one had

even thought of this kind of business. It

was very difficult for us to gain a

foothold in the market, as pizza was

still a foreign food and more of a snack

for people in India. But we got the firstmover

advantage,” says Anoop

Sequeira, CEO, GFA India, the man who

played a big role in making the brand

successful in the country.

From Chennai, the company slowly,

moved to Bangalore and Hyderabad

and also embarked on franchising with

a few more outlets.

Sequeira talks of the tremendous

growth in the last three years. “We

gained a lot of attention through

franchising. I think retail, in general, is

booming in the country since the past

three years. More and more people are

getting into the ‘shopping-mall culture’.

Accordingly, we, at Pizza Corner, have

re-engineered our processes and tried

to do a lot of innovation. We do

considerable work on R&D, which helps

us enter smaller towns. Now we are

expanding at a rapid pace.”

“Today pizza has become a

convenience food. We see a five-yearold

child coming to Pizza Corner with

her grandmother. That means that even

the older generation has accepted it. I

won’t say it will replace our regular diet

but it is a good alternative and people

like to have pizza two to three times a

month. Earlier, it would have been once

in a month or once in two months. That

has changed. All the pizza companies

have seen growth in the last few years.”

Though the company started out of

India, the people at Pizza Corner do

their best to give an international look

to the outlets. There are various dine-

20 / January 2007 / BenefIT


My Story

Business continuity and

disaster recovery

Nobody knows when disaster will strike—whether

something as simple as an unprecedented server crash

or as big as a fire. But Pizza Corner can ensure that

they have solutions in place to recover easily from any

kind of disaster. For example, they can use options like

mobile PBX to make sure that their call centre

functioning can be easily resumed even if the physical

equipment is affected, colocation of data repository

(which is important as it will hold all customer

information) at an Internet data centre or off-site

location, and so on. Refer to article “Back in

60 seconds” in BenefIT September 2006

for details.

in restaurants, delivery and express

outlets located at shopping malls,

highways and fuel stations. A speciality

is the ‘see-through kitchen’ concept,

which ensures complete hygiene.

The ‘pizza’ innovations

The mission of Pizza Corner is, ‘Better

pizza through quality and innovation’

and in view of that, it does a lot of

innovation on the product front.

Conizza, the pizza in a cone, is one such

example. “It was the next level of

innovation that helped us capture the

imagination of the consumer and

brought us enormous sales,” says

Sequeira.

He believes that innovation is a key

factor for any retail business. Pizza

Corner offers ‘desi’ pizzas with a

different set of Indian toppings because

it believes that, ‘When in India, do as

the Indians do’.

Supple Chain Management

SCM might be very helpful for Pizza Corner

since making something like a pizza will

require quite a few specialised ingredients

which only specific suppliers may be able to

provide. It would also be difficult to stock

ingredients for long lest they perish. It is

important to maintain the flow of the right

amount of the proper ingredients at the right

time, to all the outlets/kitchens, and an

SCM solution can help ensure that.

Changes are made to

the menu annually by

adding more and

more innovative

items. Instead of

resting on its laurels,

the company tries

to give its

customers a total

dining experience

by reducing the

cost and increasing

the quality.

Above all, Pizza

Corner is not just a pizza

vendor. It tries to create a

bond with the community

by initiating various social and

community activities. ‘Food for Good’

is one such initiative launched in 1998.

A part of the profits of Pizza Corner

go to the ‘Food for Good’ fund

that will be used for the benefit of

less privileged children. These

children are invited to inaugurate

the new dine-in restaurants too.

“We prefer inviting these

children instead of calling a

celebrity or a famous personality. It

is just a simple belief that gives us a

lot of satisfaction, and at the same

time, offers a rare opportunity to the

children,” says Sequeira.

Driven by IT

Pizza Corner claims to be a technologydriven

company. In fact, it is. Its Guest

Care Centre (GCC) is definitely an

innovative idea, which helps it keep

ahead of the competition. 40 per cent of

the business comes from delivery

and Pizza Corner has set up callcentres

in Bangalore, Chennai and

Hyderabad, to take care of the

orders.

“The GCC is the major focus

of our business. We have a ‘one

number’ concept for the city

and it involves a lot of IT

deployments,” says D. Venkata

Subramanian, assistant vice

president-IT.

Pizza Corner makes use of PoS

software to manage the delivery of

pizzas. It is being used in a very

innovative way. If a customer calls to

place an order, the call comes to the

call centre in that particular city, which

is connected to all the outlets through

LAN/WAN. It is a leased line circuit.

There is a 16-seater call-centre in

Bangalore. The duty of the person who

picks up the call is to write down the

phone number, address and location

of the customer. Once this information

is recorded in the computers at the call

centre, the software automatically

transfers the order to the relevant

restaurant to processes the order for

delivery.

All the outlets have the required

number of computer systems,

connected by Local Area Networks

Pay using SMS

Pizza Corner can utilise the power of

SMS to enable their customers to pay

their bills through SMS. The company

can avail of this service from various

mobile payment solution providers and

let their customers enjoy simple

SMS-based payments.

(LAN). Thus, the order from the callcentre

reaches the server in the

appropriate outlet in real-time. The

kitchen printer will immediately

generate the printout so the staff can

start making the pizza. The server will

give another print command to the

‘delivery printer’ to alert the delivery

boys. The person who delivers the pizza

updates the call-centre while leaving.

This helps the people in the call-centre

to answer any queries related to the

status of the order.

“This system helps us to achieve the

39-minute guarantee. The IT team in

Pizza Corner focuses mainly on the callcentre

as it needs to be up all the time.

At the end of the day, all the outlets

have to send a report to the GCC, which

helps us to calculate the sales of each

day,” says Subramanian.

Pizza Corner has been using this

BenefIT / January 2007 / 21


My Story

Securing premises

and diners

A good restaurant attracts people from all walks

of life. Security is especially important in places

like Pizza Corner’s dine-in outlets, which will

attract innumerable college students. After the

Jessica Lal case, security has become a very

important issue. Pizza Corner can consider IPbased

CCTV and security systems, so

managers can login and check all the sites

using the Web browser on their laptop.

software right from the beginning. It is

in the process of upgrading the PoS.

The company is also planning for a

national-level GCC, which will help it

to have one common contact number

for all the cities in the country.

Pizza Corner does not have

immediate plans to enable online

ordering. “We have tried online

ordering a few years ago. But the fact is

that people do not want to order food

items online. Even if they order it online,

they call to tell us that they have placed

an order through e-mail. So, that is a

waste of money and time,” says

Subramanian.

Another major project is the

implementation of an ERP package. It

is almost in the final stages and the

software will be functional from

January. Right now, Pizza Corner is

planning to implement the finance and

inventory modules and to implement

the whole package later on.

Subramanian believes that this will help

the company to have all data on the

fingertips and thus to make quick

decisions. “No one will be able to move

forward in business without data. We

believe this software will take our

organisation to the next level,” he says.

There are also plans to make use of

VoIP (Voice over IP) for internal

communication between the head

office, outlets and area offices to make

sure that the communication level is

fast. “This will help us to cut our phone

bills,” remarks Subramanian.

Pizza Corner makes use of HR

software as well but this is in

the process of being

upgraded as the number of

outlets and employees has

grown tremendously. The

upgraded version is going

to be a complete HR

package with all the details

about each and every

employee. This will include

the attendance system of the

whole country. “This will help

us to analyse the performance of

each employee so that we can find

out the appropriate person to handle

everything,” says Subramanian.

Pizza corner plans to implement

‘site selection software’ in the near

future to help choose the right location

for new restaurant openings. This will

maximise market share and per-unit

performance and also lessen the

cannibalisation between outlets. The

software will enable the company to

determine which store has to be closed

and which is to be renovated. Though

the information about the location is

provided manually, the software

ensures all the data is in place for proper

analysis.

“This will give us a fair idea about

the location and its pros and cons. Thus

we will be able to boost our knowledge

of the market. In fact, we believe in

evidence management. We will not take

any decision without evidence,” says

Subramanian.

Pizza Corner considers document

management as a crucial part of its

business. It has a franchise ticket system

to erase the communication gap

between the company and the

franchisees. This software avoids all the

confusion created while handling

things manually. It enables the

maintenance of all the records and

documentation.

There is document management

software for internal communication

also. Subramanian explains, “It records

all the official communication between

Locate and target

Pizza Corner can also Google-

Earth tag their website to help

their tech-savvy customers to

easily find the nearest outlet

in a city.

the employees. This helps us to have a

quality management system. The

communication becomes centralised

and the efficiency of employees

increases.”

Pizza Corner’s next aim is to move

towards a paperless office and as a part

of this effort, it is going to make use of

intranet applications.

Future plans

The people at Pizza Corner are

determined to make the brand the

world’s best-managed pizza chain. Now

they are going to smaller towns in the

country. Sequeira is pretty confident

about the future. “We want to increase

the number of outlets. The location is a

key factor. We are finding out ‘A’ grade

locations across the country to open

new outlets and are striving to touch

100 outlets by March. At the same time,

we are focusing more on the quality

aspect. We do not want to get into any

price wars. The most important thing is

innovation. We are always hungry for

innovation. That has, and will be, the

differentiator.”

—N Radhika, BenefIT Bureau

22 / January 2007 / BenefIT

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