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What are the Anthill Cool Company Awards?
The Cool Company Awards were launched in 2006 as a way for Anthill to acknowledge and celebrate Australian organisations that are doing things differently to bring about positive change. Cool Companies stay one step ahead of the rest. They breed leaders who are rule-makers and rule-breakers. They are trend-setters in attitude and action. Quite simply, they are … cool! More.
Company: Pie Face
Category: Big Kahuna
When fashion designers Betty Fong and Wayne Homschek decided to get into the bakery business, it was a sure bet that they would offer food with flair.
Pie Face, a meat-pie franchise concocted in 2003 by the co-founders of the fashion label Paablo Nevada, is most decidedly fast food. But it’s as far removed from a Macca’s experience as one could imagine. Flavors range from thai chicken curry (the chicken is hormone-free) to tandoori vegetable to mince beef with tomato chutney.
And each flavor comes with a signature face baked into the crust. No humble pie, these. And that’s good, because Pie Face is Anthill’s Cool Company 2010 winner in the Big Kahuna category.
And each outlet (there are about 25) also sells pastries, sweets and gourmet coffee (the latter comes in caffeine concentrations ranging from “tingle my toes” to “kick my arse”).
The Pie Face folks say they’ve elevated the profile of the meat pie from footy matches to trendy urban settings and fancy cocktail parties. “An exportable gem,” they call it. Pie Face works hard to pull together several elements — eye-catching outlets, sharp customer service, smart marketing and good food — and provide it at a competitive price.
Pie Face says revenue is growing by 120 percent per year. Same-store sales growth is running between 20 percent and 40 percent per quarter on the last four quarters.
The company’s core marketing strategy is to get people to try the products and experience the store. Once they try, Pie Face amplifies the experience with word of mouth, online and social media. It supports this with very strategic but limited above-the-line branding (public relations, outdoor advertising, etc.)
In order to ensure consistency with service and food, Pie Face uses a training and communications system called Pie Space. Each month, new micro-training modules released to help each staff member improve something, ie in-store music, cleaning, up-selling, catering.
Customers are linked through a VIP program and through Facebook. Pie Face listens to its customer for ideas about service and possible new products and locations. Pie Face’s entire management team is linked to the customer-feedback email.
Another key strategy was to build the first 20 stores without outside involvement from franchisees. Pie Face invested six years and more than $12 million into the business to build a company-owned network of stores and perfect the format and store-level financials.
So, what makes Pie Face cool? “People love our brand,” they wrote in their Cool Company application. “It’s a sly way for the older party-going crowd to say you’ve had a big night, and its cute and innocent for the rest of us. We are irreverent, and don’t mind breaking the rules to do it better… and our customers get that.”
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