We had the pleasure of meeting Sheri Miksa at the Rotary Club of Downtown Tulsa. Miksa, president and CEO of Mazzio’s LLC, shared her insights into what it takes to build a successful food and beverage brand. Check out 10 key takeaways below.
Miksa knows what she’s talking about, with over 25 years of experience in the restaurant, food service, and hospitality industries. Her previous executive roles include AFC Enterprises’ Seattle Coffee Co., Taco Bell Corp., and LSG Sky Chefs.
Miksa emphasized the importance of learning “the Mazzio’s way” and experiencing what customers experience. She worked in every level of the restaurant, from re-stocking the buffet line to taking orders in the call center. Going the extra mile, she even helped deliver pizza in the snow and ice on Super Bowl Sunday.
10 Takeaways from the Mazzio’s CEO:
1) Know your product/service.
Mazzio’s strives to build good value, premium-quality ingredients, and ample portions. They offer easy decisions with specials & bundles, creating a menu with something for all. Think about the entire customer experience, from appetizers to dessert.
2) Understand why your customers love you.
Mazzio’s works hard to create a certain experience: “Fun, family-friendly gathering place.” But they go deeper than just asking “What do customers want?” They ask “Why do they come here?” They understand each restaurant gives customers “a place to create memories.”
3) Respect your history.
Mazzio’s embraces their humble beginnings as “The Pizza Parlor” in 1961. School teacher Ken Selby ran his one-man pizza shop after teaching a full day of school. Four years later, a loyal customer base supported Ken’s decision to make pizza his full-time job, and he opened a second location. In 2015, the Mazzio’s chain features 140 units in 10 states.
4) Support your community.
As Rotarians, we believe “He profits most who serves best.” Mazzio’s exemplifies this ideal with their commitment to community as a United Way Trailblazer Company. They also participate in “Dine Out for No Kid Hungry”, as well as supporting the Center for Hope and Global Gardens.
5) Focus on profitable growth.
Mazzio’s knows top line sales increases are key. They’re constantly fighting other restaurants and even convenience stores for “Share of Stomach.” Their top objectives: 1) Increase new guests or “drive trials.” 2) Increase repeat business and build loyalty. 3) Boost frequency.
6) Update your brand.
Mazzio’s solidified their brand with a consistent marketing image and voice. They describe their style as “fun, Leary-esque” with colorful, food-focused marketing images. Like the rest of their ideas, they put their brand image to the test. A marketing idea may be shiny, but will it sell?
7) Never stop improving.
The Mazzio’s menu evolves to meet customer needs. They have a well-defined new product R&D process and pipeline. They constantly look for ways to make it easy for guests to use them, like adding special bundles to their base menu and the catering menu. They leverage technology, with online ordering and a mobile app.
8) Create a change management culture.
Mazzio’s isn’t afraid to dream big. They encourage flexible, nimble, and decisive response to opportunities. Active “testing protocols” help them make informed decisions. Once they commit to a new direction, changes follow a carefully-designed “Transformation Plan” with key dates and benchmarks.
9) Understand your market position.
Mazzio’s benchmarks the competition to see where they stand. They rely on customer feedback and research to guide decisions. Once their course is set, they strengthen their position through consistent branding: packaging, look and feel, marketing ads and materials, positioning and message.
10) Leverage people strength.
Boasting better-than-industry turnover, Mazzio’s celebrates long tenure and deep knowledge. Many team members start in high school, and continue with the company for decades. Frequent communications keep everyone on the same page, with a quarterly newsletter, periodic updates, and direct messages to the field.
Whether you’re food & beverage, services, or manufacturing, Mazzio’s example can help you build a better brand for the next several decades.
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