Pizza Hut is trialling its plans in four “Alpha Hut” concept stores to drastically change its restaurants to an experienced based model from a product based model.
Marketing director of brand development, Jaclyn Schnau, says “We haven’t kept up with the times. We put the blinders on and said ’customers will still come’ and you know what, they didn’t. We had some real soul searching to do and fundamentally we’ve realised that we have to move from a product based to an experience based offer.”
Schnau adds that Pizza Hut has come up with a ‘motif’ for how they want people to feel and experience when they come to the restaurant, that goes beyond the products and everything that the chain does is embedded in ensuring their customers feel “uninhibited, light-hearted and embraced”.
Pizza Hut’s lunch time buffet could be no more in a bid to move away from “trough feeding”, however, they are also trialling a concept called Pizza Parade that could replace the buffets.
Instead of customers having to go to a buffet and collecting the food, Pizza Parade has been modelled on the practice that Argentinean restaurants will see waiters bring fresh pizza to the customer’s tables.
Schnau said, “Once we bring the brand back and make it relevant to them and accessible we are hitting the right chord and people are coming back. People love pizza hut they were just waiting for us to keep up with their life. Eventually the goal is to find out the best way to go forward.”
Customer service has been neglected by Pizza hut, which is admitted by Schnau. However, they have developed a new customer service programme called “the handshake” to offer a more intuitive service and improve engagement with customers.
The “Alpha Huts” are a substantial portion of the restaurant’s budget as they have needed to refurbish the restaurants, hire staff, and get new menu designs and supplies as well as restaurant insurance quotes. However, if the concepts are successful, it could be rolled out across the UK next year.
What are your views? We’re hoping that there will still be an ‘all you can eat’ offer, even with table service!