Business Analytics Helps Pizza Chain Manage the Dough

By William Atkinson  |  Posted 07-08-2011

Papa Gino's Pizzeria (Boston, Mass.) has 280 restaurants in New England under the names of Papa Gino's (a pizzeria chain) and D'Angelo (a grilled sandwich shop chain).

Prior to the introduction of business analytics, the company struggled to draw intelligence from multiple sources of disparate information. Managers would often spend the majority of their time (up to 80 percent) gathering data, and minimal time acting on it.

"We did a study when I first came to work here about four and a half years ago," says Paul Valle, CIO of Papa Gino's Pizzeria. "We found that the usage of Excel spreadsheets was so extensive that we actually labeled it as one of our three major systems." Papa Gino's realized that it needed to move managers away from this, so that they could become data analysts, rather than data gatherers.

In response, the company introduced IBM business analytics software, working with one of IBM's business partners, QueBIT, to implement it. With business analytics, managers can harness all of the relevant performance data and then measure this data against the company's performance goals.    How did store managers and regional managers respond to the technology? "With 'guarded enthusiasm," responds Valle. "The general response was, 'This is cool technology, but I don't trust it.'" On the one hand, managers were really excited about getting a tool like this, because it had been needed for a very long time. However, they were very leery about trusting it. "This was a new way of doing business, and it was difficult for them at first to validate that the numbers were correct," he explains.

To gain the confidence of the managers, Papa Gino's used a three-phase approach to the rollout. The first phase involved arranging for the business analytics to provide managers all of the data available. "It was much more than they needed, of course, but since they had so much data at their fingertips, it gave them the time to begin to trust that all of the numbers they needed were there, and that they were correct," says Valle.

The second phase involved scaling back on the amount of data, providing only the numbers that tied into the managers' key performance indicators (KPIs). "This allowed them to go straight to the numbers that they knew were the most important," Valle explains. "However, they also knew they had access to all of the other data if they wanted to go back to it."

Papa Gino's is currently rolling out the third phase. "In this phase, we are now just showing them the KPIs that are above or below the parameters that we are setting at the time," he continues.

These days, managers are responding positively to the various features of the technology. For example, they like the ability to be able to look back beyond the daily static reports to view prior periods, which allows them to look for trends.

Papa Gino's is also working on ways to gain support for the technology. For example, the company has an automated process that e-mails PDFs of the day's reports to managers each morning. Currently, most managers access these reports on their laptops. "However, this can be cumbersome," admits Valle. "With laptops, regional managers can sit in restaurants and do their work, but they can't walk around the restaurants and work with the managers."

To remedy this, Papa Gino's is in the midst of a field mobility project, where it is tying the business analytics into iPad usage. "Managers will now have an iPad and be able to access the system live, including the static reports," Valle says. "We can still distribute the reporting the way they want it, but with the iPads, they can also actually get in and do their research." In this way, managers will be able to instantly access information to help them review and respond to business data as they work with store managers.