A popular Gold Coast brand which recently sold 1 million pizzas on Bartercard plans to expand nation-wide. We spent five minutes chatting to its owner, Kate Biglands, who's used Bartercard to attract new customers and boost sales.
Maries Pizza is a home-grown success story. Founded on the Gold Coast in 1981, the company has grown to seven stores covering most areas of the Gold Coast.
The brand was founded when Marie and Ted Sherman moved their five children from Bathurst to the Gold Coast in search of warmer weather. The first store in Palm Beach soon became a hangout for local surfers and residents, and a legendary pizzeria was born.
THE SECRET TO SUCCESS
Maries Pizza CEO, Kate Biglands said the brand’s secrets are customer loyalty developed over the past three decades, and its ability to adapt and remain proactive.
“We were one of the first take away outlets to introduce home delivery as an option on the Gold Coast,” said Kate. “We had a much smaller competition base at the start but the number of outlets in takeaway food has exploded over the years.”
She said the biggest challenge for most businesses is to remain competitive and profitable when costs are rising and margins are being squeezed. “Our strategy in this environment is to stand firm and not compromise quality in the pursuit of profit; even though the competition is fierce in delivering price points under $5 per pizza.”
BOOSTING BUSINESS ON BARTERCARD
A Bartercard member since 2006, Maries Pizza now attributes 5% to 10% of its turnover to Bartercard sales. It recently used Bartercard to pay local contractor, Watmar Electrical to install lighting and a switchboard in one of its stores. Print costs for advertising material, shop cleaning, tilers and shop fitters are also paid for in trade.
Kate said the move to Bartercard started as an experiment to increase customers.
“The Bartercard system does what it promises and will attract additional customers,” said Kate. “The key to success is management and a willingness to adapt your usual spending habits to complement a different system. There are Facebook communities, websites and networking opportunities. There’s a lot of potential to connect with like-minded people who are all members of a community interested in doing business.”
Kate said adjusting to Bartercard trade required nothing more than setting up a new bank account, while in-store accounts are much the same.
“It was quite easy to incorporate and similar in theory to other income receiving systems.”
A BIGGER SLICE OF THE MARKET
Maries Pizza recently celebrated its millionth pizza sold on Bartercard, although Kate admits bartering is made easier with such a popular commodity.
“We are very lucky to sell a product that, when done well, sells itself!” she said. “We have many loyal customers who have been purchasing from us for years, not to mention decades. Pizza is so easy to share and much cheaper than a lot of other takeaway options.”
What sort of businesses are looking for pizza on Bartercard? According to Kate, service oriented industries, property developers, accommodation providers, investment companies, trades people and training providers are all lining up for what Maries Pizza delivers. The secret is in the company’s niche market.
“Dominos is a marketing machine owned by foreign interests with a massive investment in technology,” said Kate. “We don’t compare ourselves with them. We have a much more personal attachment to what we do. Our roots are family based, we are Aussie and proud of it and we have grown up on the Gold Coast alongside the business. Our customers will happily support a local brand if it’s quality.”
Kate said Bartercard helps her business conserve cash and increases people’s standard of living. Her advice is simple: “Before you spend anything, whether it’s business or personal, you must ask yourself “Can I use trade dollars to make this purchase?” If so, look through the directory on MYBC or contact your Trade Co-ordinator and ask for assistance. It’s that easy.”
Now that Maries Pizza reigns supreme on the Gold Coast, the company has its sights set further afield.
“We have plans for expansion not only to Brisbane, but Australia-wide,” said Kate. “Opportunities are being considered and it’s only a matter of time before this becomes a reality.”