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Use of Smart cars linked to awards for Pizza Inn owner

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Use of Smart cars linked to awards for Pizza Inn owner

Order a pizza to be delivered from the Pizza Inn on North Grimes Street, or either Pizza Inn in Carlsbad, and the Smart car that delivers it might remind you of someplace in Europe.

Franchise owner Michael Moore garnered four awards last month at an Orlando, Fla., Pizza Inn conference, one of which, the “Franchise of the Year” award, was connected in part to his Smart car innovation.

“My wife and I were in Germany and Paris, France, a couple of summers ago. We were there for a few weeks and I saw these Smart cars everywhere,” Moore said. “I saw these little cars on small streets. You just can’t take your eye off of them. They just look so funny, so different, and they were everywhere.”

Within six months of returning to Hobbs, he said, he saw a private Smart car in town. It caught his eye and set the thought processes in motion.

“I looked into it thinking they would make a good delivery vehicle if I could make it happen,” Moore said.

He could only get four all-electric cars because more were not available, but he was able to complete his fleet of nine with hybrids. He now has two in Hobbs and seven in Carlsbad.

“I had to get it all approved by Pizza Inn,” Moore said. “I gave a presentation about the Smart cars at the Pizza Inn convention in Puerto Rico last summer. I think there’s only been one other franchise that uses the Smart cars. It’s worked for me. We’ve had them for almost a year and a half now.”

The cars serve as mobile billboards, he added, making every delivery all over town.

“Delivery business has increased and people always comment on the Smart cars. It’s almost like a joke, it’s funny, but that’s what you want,” Moore said. “They can go about 70 miles on a charge and just costs about $2.10 in electricity to charge it.”

Also connected to the Franchise of the Year award was a 24 percent increase in sales over his three stores. That easily topped the amount needed to win a 6 percent club award from Pizza Inn. Meanwhile, Moore just completed his first year as a board member of the Pizza Inn Advertising Plan, a fund into which all Pizza Inn franchises pay for national advertising.

A third award, the only one Moore said he went to Orlando expecting to receive, was the million dollar award because one of his stores in Carlsbad exceeded that amount in sales last year.

Moore’s fourth award, earned due to his remodeling of the north Carlsbad restaurant, was the “Extreme Makeover” award.

The Hobbs restaurant had been remodeled about six years ago, Moore said.

Moore has been owner of the Hobbs store since 1997 when, after years of managing Alamogordo and Alpine-area Pizza Huts, he decided to stretch out on his own. He first started in the pizza business as a delivery driver for Pizza Hut while attending college at West Texas A&M University, then went to work for that company full time after earning his degree in engineering.

“This store here was closed down. This was in 1997 … so we bought the franchise and moved to Hobbs to open this,” he said. “We’ve had the Carlsbad stores just over 15 years.”

Asked how he managed to grow his business, he credited good employees as the key. Combining the three restaurants, he has about 65 employees.

Also, he added, “If you’re not changing things up, you’re just slowly dying. You see what’s good for the customer and change it up.”

In Carlsbad, the Pizza Inn manager for Moore is Ruben Ramirez.

“He’s been with me for 15 years, since I’ve owned those stores,” Moore said, “He does a great job.”

Brandon Acevedo manages the Hobbs restaurant, starting out as a server but went into management about five years ago, Moore said. Moore himself manages Carlsbad’s second Pizza Inn, having recently lost that manager to the oilfield.

With good employees, Moore said, “I don’t have to make pizzas all day. They give me the chance to come up with new ideas.” Such as using Smart cars for pizza deliveries.

Burkett Shaw
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