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Shakey’s formula is to build it ‘brick by brick’

INCOMPLETE Shakey’s Pizza Parlor Restaurant along CM Recto at Limketkai Center, Cagayan de Oro City. (PHOTO CREDIT: http://www.cdodev.com/2013/07/04/new-shakeys-store-nears-completion/)

Nearing 40 years of existence, it is safe to say that Shakey’s Pizza parlor has weathered the perfect storm.

In 1954, Sherwood “Shakey” Johnson and Ed Plummer came up with a pizza idea and made the American people fall in love with the pizza pie.

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The love bug bit the Philippines in 1975 when Shakey’s emerged as an avenue for marketing San Miguel’s newest draft beer.

The first Shakey’s branch  opened in the city of Makati.

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Golden Pizza Inc. led by Leo Prieto Sr. came into the picture to steer the course of the Pizza Parlor from San Miguel. Of course, Shakey’s was not exempted from experiencing economic setbacks.

This era of Shakey’s marked a turning point in its history. Prieto searched for a new management team. He handpicked Vic Gregorio—who started in Shakey’s as a crew in 1986.

His mandate: To fix and revitalize the brand.

Gregorio admits that it was no easy task. The brand was in dire conditions.

“The brand was on a slide. [It] was still in the top three but it was losing market share. It was a far No. 3,”  he says.

For him, it needed a complete overhaul. “At one point, it was a beer joint then it switched to fast-food where everything was low-priced. Yet it sacrificed a lot on quality and service. It lost the spirit of family,” he adds.

So he set out by introducing major revisions, a unique brand strategy and serious fiscal management.

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In 2003, Shakey’s returned to its roots—fun, family and pizza.

New innovations and a brand new business thrust propelled Shakey’s back to the top spot. “We added innovations but still remained consistent with the branding,” he says.

The turnaround mandate made Gregorio and his team find ways to introduce groundbreaking initiatives. This gave life to original concepts like the fun zone and game room.

To remain consistent with the thrust on family and creating memories while enjoying a thin-crust manager’s choice.

Up to this day, the games are classic, wholesome and nonviolent. It has become Shakey’s mantra to answer the needs of people aged seven to 77.

OLD Shakey’s logo

Gregorio believes that one of the main elements of a successful brand is its people.

He turned his eye on hiring the best and most qualified peole. “The emphasis was made on training and in the hiring process,” Gregorio adds.

He adds that they put a premium on training employees. For him, “training is personal.”

Shakey’s has a facility where mock-up stores are in place. Employees undergo 16 days of extensive lecture and training. “They have to go through a  ‘revalida’ before they are assigned to a store,” he adds.

Gregorio, who has been in the industry for 32 years, believes that when a company is experiencing growth, they believe that its better to promote people from within.

Specialized training for select individuals are also held. It is their belief that “for them to wow guests, they have to feel wowed!”

Leadership workshops for managers are held in style every year. And most individuals coming out of the workshops feels re-energized and feel more linked to Shakey’s ecosystem.

“A crew can become anyone he likes as long as he has what it takes,” he adds.

The Shakey’s logo also went through several makeovers. Now, the logo is younger but still echoes the same tune of the brand.

Next year, Shakey’s will approach a new milestone as it turns 40. And Gregorio believes that the brand continuously moves forward.

Even before they hit 40, Shakey’s already did the unthinkable by achieving a 19.8 percent compounded growth rate. They know how it feels to remain in double-digit growth for 10 straight years.

“We’re very confident that it’s going to be another double-digit growth this year,” he adds. Asked how they do it, he says  it is the company’s willingness and courage to challenge themselves and push themselves to provide best pizzas, best products and best prices.

Shakey’s remains attuned by harnessing the power of technology to reach out to their consumers.

Brand assets like SuperCard (enables guests to avail of perks and discounts), send a Shakey’s (whether it’s abroad or to any local destination, a customer can send pizza from anywhere in the world). Pizza, chicken and mojos (PCM) app (customers can have pizza delivered through the app), pizza on wheels (buses of Shakey’s on wheels made available during parties, concerts and fiestas) have provided customers with a unique experience.

Another vital part of the brand is the Shakey’s V-League.

Shakey’s V-League action

Leo Prieto Sr. is a former PBA commissioner. He has sports pulsating in his blood. The Philippines, being a basketball-loving country, used Shakey’s to resurrect volleyball in the country.

According to Gregorio, volleyball is a very wholesome sport. Having less physical contact and being a team sport, volleyball is aligned with the family-oriented brand thrust. “V-League is a perfect way to give back. It provides young athletes an opportunity to become household names,” he adds. Gregorio also adds that it has proven to be an effective sports marketing. Given that today a volleyball game could fill up the SM Mall Arena, he believes that they have set things in motion to help Philippine volleyball regain its footing in the country.

Franchisers are treated like VIPs. Yet they put an emphasis on quality rather than quantity. Shakey’s now has 136 stores and aims to have over 156 stores by the end of the year. “As the country continues to improve economically, we see Shakey’s moving with it,” Gregorio says.

Most Shakey’s restaurants are  stand-alone, meaning they are built on vacant lots. Many advantages can be seen from restos not installed within the malls. “Because mall rental rates are prohibitive and can get costly. It eats up all the profit,” he explains.

Stand-alones tend to have a much higher daily sales. In 2003, a stand-alone store average P29,000 per day. Highest earning branch is Shakey’s Loyola which gains P300,000 per day.

Each branch is subject to continuous evaluation. “The stores act like billboards. It’s brightly-lit with wide, open spaces, has a high ceiling and big TVs. So it remains close to the heart of our guest,” he explains.

Being on top gives Shakey’s the privilege of hindsight. Yet Gregorio agrees that there is no magic formula. You have to build it, brick by brick. “You can’t be a dinosaur, you have to evolve. Ten years from now, I believe our guests will still choose to dine-out with Shakey’s,” he quips.

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