In this exclusive Q&A, we get to learn more about the Boston’s Pizza Restaurant & Sports Bar franchise from the company’s VP of Sales, Ryan Reeves.
Franchise Chatter (FC): Boston’s Pizza Restaurant & Sports Bar has announced that unit growth is up 20%; how has the company accomplished this?
Ryan Reeves (RR): Along with many other industries, the pandemic initially impacted our business: our losses were based on restrictions put on indoor and patio dining. However, we were able to adapt to the road blocks and even managed to open four new locations in 2020 with five new restaurants opening in 2021.
Next year is looking to be even better. We will have 27 restaurants in the U.S. by the end of the year, and we have 437 in North America, including Canada and Mexico. Our new operational offerings created more opportunity for profit for new and existing owners.
FC: How was Boston’s able to adapt and meet challenges amid COVID-19 restrictions while providing the same quality in food and customer service?
RR: We shifted our operations model to include curbside pickup, delivery and online ordering. This quick turnaround in our offerings allowed our restaurants to better serve current guests and prepare for a consumer group more focused on convenient and contactless dining options. Our online ordering option continues to exceed our goals. Even as our in-restaurant dining has returned, our guests are still interested in ordering our delicious food as a ‘guaranteed-to-please’ meal option at home.
FC: How is Boston’s keeping up with the times to establish an innovative business model?
RR: In 2020, we focused our efforts on getting the entire Boston’s system up and ready to accept orders online. From there, we began to grow upon that platform by adding non-alcoholic beverages, curbside pickup, and sending out online ordering-specific loyalty offers to drive traffic and entice growth of that platform. Our restaurants also partner with third-party delivery service providers.
We have adapted to the times. Our customers have so many dining options, but they continue to return to Boston’s because they know we can keep up.
FC: Boston’s has thrived in this current climate; why, specifically, should prospective franchisees consider opening their own Boston’s restaurants?
RR: After the pandemic, people are hungry for a community connection. With the sports bar, outdoor patio and a variety of scratch-made food and craft beverage options, Boston’s continues to offer something for everyone. Our restaurants are just an extension of one’s neighborhood; offering great service and a grace space to gather.
FC: What are the new avenues of development that Boston’s is currently exploring?
RR: There are a number of new development avenues we are exploring, some of which include a restaurant model with a smaller footprint. In various locations and for different reasons, a smaller restaurant space just makes more sense. Our franchisees are still able to offer the same menu, with the venue providing outdoor space, indoor dining, and a sports bar. With this redesign, there is less overhead for the owners and every inch of the space is being used for a specific purpose.
We are also very happy to share that we have made some exciting development deals with hotel groups. We are officially an approved brand for Marriott and IHG. This partnership is great for both parties: the branded restaurant helps the hotel bring in more guests, the restaurant draws a crowd from the hotel guests and the restaurant becomes a new hotspot for its surrounding community.
FC: Now that many states have lifted restrictions on patio and indoor dining, what do the next few years look like for Boston’s growth?
RR: The sky is the limit! Since the CDC just announced that vaccinated Americans no longer have to wear masks, we’re moving back to a sense of normalcy. However, we’ve thought ahead in terms of establishing ourselves as a restaurant offering multiple ways to enjoy our food.
We are currently in discovery mode in terms of considering ghost kitchens; a way to take some of the pressure off of our full-service restaurants for online and call-in orders (third-party delivery, online ordering, catering, to-go, etc.). This way, our full-service restaurants can focus on the customers in-house while Boston’s still provides great food and amazing service to additional patrons.
FC: What is the biggest opportunity for Boston’s in a post-COVID world?
RR: Continued innovation. For example, our new POS system (POSiTouch) helped streamline the process of online ordering from the customer to the restaurant. The need and necessity to roll out a new technology during a time with so many unknowns helped us prepare for the future.
We were given the challenge to change our business model or fall behind: we met the challenge head-on. And as I already mentioned, Boston’s Pizza guests are now accustomed to on-demand meal options, so our restaurants are ready to meet those needs; and we will continue to do so in the future.