Get to Know Our Customers – Pizza Ranch

By Jason Bench November 14, 2023 Blog, Restaurant
pizza ranch franchise

When Adrie Groeneweg was 19, his father gave him a gift. Young Adrie had graduated from high school and was working as a welder in his small hometown of Hull, Iowa, supplementing his income with shifts at a nearby pizza parlor at night and on weekends. At home, he would talk to his father about his work at the restaurant and share his observation that he saw many of his neighbors from Hull making the drive to eat there, as there was no pizza restaurant in Hull. Not only did the elder Groeneweg take note of his son’s passion for the work – he also saw an opportunity. He soon found an empty space on Main Street, invested his own savings, and co-signed a high-interest bank loan for Adrie. In 1981, the first Western-themed Pizza Ranch opened its doors. The restaurant was so successful that an investor reached out only three years later, offering an opportunity to franchise the concept.

Now, more than 40 years later, Pizza Ranch is the largest, most-recognized pizza chain in the Midwest. The company has a straightforward mission: “to give every guest a legendary experience.” But, with more than 200 locations in 15 states, achieving that mission hasn’t always been easy. What’s their secret? They’ve got a few: a customer-first attitude, a generous buffet that offers great value at affordable prices, and brand-wide consistency that drives revenue and customer lifetime value by building loyalty.

Brand Consistency, Customer Loyalty, and Customer Lifetime Value: The Essential Link

Customers perceive a brand that serves up the same high-quality experience with no surprises, from the taste of the food to the ambiance that surrounds it, as reliable and trustworthy. That consistency is the cornerstone of a brand’s reputation, assuring customers that every visit will be just what they expect, and this reliability fosters an ongoing relationship that’s as comforting as their favorite menu item.

Brand consistency’s value goes far beyond a positive image. Studies show that it’s an economic engine that drives business growth and profitability. The Harvard Business Review reports that attracting a new customer costs 5x to 25x more than retaining an existing one. Bain & Co. research documents that repeat customers are not just cost savers but revenue multipliers. A 5% increase in customer retention correlates with a profit increase of 25% to 95%. Repeat customers often become brand advocates, championing the business through word-of-mouth, and they tend to spend more—RJ Metrics’ research found that the top 10% of a company’s customers spend three times more per transaction than the lower 90%, and the top 1% spend five times more per order than the 99%.

For multi-unit restaurant chains, where a 7% increase in brand loyalty can catapult customer lifetime value by up to 85%, the stakes and the rewards are even higher. Consistent brand standards forge a strong, recognizable identity, ensuring that whether in a bustling city center or a quiet suburb, the experience remains the same. Brand loyalty and increased customer lifetime value result.

Leveraging Audits to Build Brand Consistency

For Pizza Ranch, brand consistency was a challenge that regular site visits weren’t enough to overcome. Darin Olson, director of franchise operations at Pizza Ranch says, “We were doing a 500-point audit with Excel, which frankly was pretty ineffective.” Creating the brand consistency and positive environment that Pizza Ranch sought would require a change in the way that audits were being conducted, but it would be a delicate balance.

Aware that audits often provoke anxiety for franchisees and employees, Olson wanted to prevent a “gotcha mindset.” Pizza Ranch has been named one of Iowa’s Top Workplaces by the Des Moines Register multiple times and upholding company values, which include creating a positive work environment, was important to him. Olson’s team began researching a digital solution that would address his issues. They saw a variety of options, but nothing met all of Pizza Ranch’s needs until they discovered the portability, ease of use, customizable dashboards, integrated photo and video capabilities, and smooth reporting features of MeazureUp.

Olson says, “I changed the whole approach. We have fewer questions, cleanliness is worth more points, but we look at food quality, customer service, and everything else. Our new approach is called the cleanliness service and a comfortable environmental walkthrough.” MeazureUp also helped Pizza Ranch identify opportunities to boost consistency through improved employee training. “We recognized training was an issue,” Olson says, “but we did not know if it was because there was something wrong with our training or if we were not putting enough emphasis on it.” Pizza Ranch has created and implemented new, more effective, training programs. Brand standards are upheld as managers leverage MeazureUp to ensure that employees complete each task exactly as specified every time.

Finding Brand Consistency Success with a Digital Field Assessment Tool

Pizza Ranch’s new approach is working. In recent years, audit scores have risen brand wide. “We’re up 7 percentage points, so we’re doing really well,” Olson says. In addition, the company has:

  • Been named America’s Best Customer Service and America’s Favorite Pizza Chain.
  • Added arcades to many locations.
  • Opened numerous restaurants, many in new markets.
  • Begun serving brunch and other new menu items including gluten-free options at many sites.
  • Celebrated as President and Founder, Adrie Groeneweg, was chosen as Restauranteur of the Year by the Iowa Restaurant Association.

By collaborating with MeazureUp, Pizza Ranch has been able to ditch those inconvenient 500-point Excel audits – and the dusty binders they were stored in. Now, managers conduct more effective, concise audits using their phones or tablets, add photos and video instantly, share information up the chain, and get the feedback they need to succeed. Managers are spending less time on audits and more time interacting with customers, observing their team in action, and providing the “legendary experience” that Pizza Ranch is known for. Olson is pleased, and Adrie Groeneweg is too. He says, “It is great see the growth and success Pizza Ranch has accomplished…It makes me excited for what the future holds.”

MeazureUp is a trusted partner for Pizza Ranch and many other brands, helping to build customer loyalty and increase customer lifetime value by improving brand consistency. Find out what AuditApp and DailyChex (MeazureUp’s digital checklist solution) can do for your company. Schedule a demo today.