Mazzio’s Corp. signs with Fransmart to aid with location expansion
Italian food chain restaurant Mazzio’s Corporation has signed a franchising agreement with Fransmart to expand its presence from 170 to 1,000 locations, according to ChainLeader.com
The Tulsa, Okla.-based restaurateur will continue to grow its larger Italian eateries across 10 states with Alexandria, Va.-based Fransmart’s assistance.
In conjunction with its plans to grow, Mazzio’s President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Lippert said in a statement that the company has renovated 25 of locations over the last four years to modernize its look.
Fransmart is a franchise development company that was the driving force behind the explosive growth of brands like Qdoba, Five Guys Burgers & Fries and Zpizza. Fransmart will help develop Mazzio’s Italian Eatery across the United States and in certain international markets.
The fast casual Mazzio’s concept features pizzas, made-to-order pastas, sandwiches, and fresh specialty salads and appetizers. Lippert said in a statement that its new partnership with Fransmart will allow both brands to grow and provide new opportunities for employees and new franchise partners.
Poth said that the layout of each new restaurant facility and the size of Mazzio’s new menu will be the biggest changes that will occur once the company begins to add new locations.
“That’s been a strategy of ours, to try to compete with what we call the big three – Domino’s, Papa Johns and Pizza Hut,” he said. “They’re solely focused on pizza and our goal has been with expanding in the salad area. Most Mazzio’s have a salad bar, but we’re looking to introduce some really good specialty type salads that are made to order, which would give us a very viable alternative to the salad bar approach.”
Another aspect that may change is its pasta category. Poth said that by narrowing down its menu options from nine items to five, Mazzio’s will simplify its offerings and provide a more attractive option for potential franchisees.
“We use a local marketing strategy in and around the communities we serve, usually in a three to five mile radius,” he said. “And so that would entail things like a solo mail if there were a larger concentration of units, and eventually TV, but that’s a long way off. They do have to stand on their own in terms of neighborhood restaurants. With Fransmart’s direction, our location strategy will change. In the past it was open-ended and we opened in pretty good small- to mid-sized towns, but now we’ll be moving into more mid- to larger-sized cities to accommodate more foot traffic.”
It’s this type of expertise that Poth feels Fransmart brings to the table, and he added that they’re very experienced in the type of growth that Mazzio’s is hoping to achieve, so the company hopes to tap into Fransmart’s expertise.
“Their role is an expansion of franchising vehicle for us, and trying to bring our brand with 30-plus years of background, heritage and track record to potential operators and franchisees. They’re the ‘match maker,’ if you will,” Poth said. “We expect them to be active in site selection, and they may or may not help franchisees with financing options, but in terms of marketing, they’ll turn the ball over to us.”
Once Fransmart has paired Mazzio’s with a potential franchisor, the hard part is done. Then Mazzio’s can begin to supply new products, advertising and collateral material and design and building expertise to the new location.
“Fransmart will have input on some of the nuances of building design;there’ll probably be some tweaks,” Poth said. “We want to stay true to Mazzio’s heritage, but there might be some suggestions in there, that we might think are good ideas.”
While solo mail has been an important part of Mazzio’s local outreach, Poth said that the restaurateur also utilizes zoned newspaper inserts and also engages in local sponsorship activities, which he said are sometimes a challenge to execute.
“We’re a little bit more traditional in terms of staying focused with media options that might be available,” he said. “Once we get a concentration of units, and sometimes nowadays the way cable buys operate, we could be in cable with at least five units in the area. It takes a greater concentration of locations. It’s almost a ladder affect – building local solo mail, then zoned inserts a broader reach, then cable and then eventually we’d like to have an ADI concentration.”
In terms of economy-related challenges, Poth said that it’s an interesting time to be embarking on the process of expansion, but said that it could work to its advantage, considering the real estate market is presenting some incredible opportunities for franchisees.
“We do believe the economy will turn and Fransmart believes there’s always room for new and exciting opportunities,” he said. “We’re trying to focus on taking advantage of those opportunities, but I think we can get a good start before it kicks in and the real estate rates go up.”
Poth said that Mazzio’s is the type of company that’s “smart enough to know what we don’t know,” and as such, contracts external agencies with specific expertise to assist the company with its outreach efforts.
“In the area of building design and atmosphere, we use Diamond Design Associates in Scottsdale, Ariz. They’ve updated our look, feel and ambience,” he said. “On the advertising side, we use a group of two or three different agencies. One, we have specializing in social media activity, and we’ve been involved with them for two to three months, it’s an agency out of northwest Arkansas, CJRW. And then our main advertising activities are handled here in Tulsa with a local agency called Idea Studio.”
Poth said that he could be open to agency approaches regarding projects and partnerships, but said that this would occur only under the circumstance that each location situation is evaluated in terms of what the opportunity is and what the expertise and skill sets that another party would bring to Mazzio’s.
4441 South 72nd East Avenue
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