People always tell me they love the idea of social media but don’t see how it can generate business. The social media example that I like the most is Naked Pizza.
New Orleans-based franchisor Naked Pizza announced last week that it has signed multiunit area contracts in four more U.S. cities, is opening two test stores in Dubai by the end of the year, and plans to expand into Abu Dhabi by 2011.
That gives Naked Pizza more than 300 stores under development in 18 markets just 10 months after launching its franchise operations. Yet the grand opening of its first franchise location, in Miami, is still several weeks in the future.
It’s true that takeout and delivery pizza is a proven business model that’s made to scale. It’s also true that Naked Pizza has fueled its expansion by choosing to award franchises only to experienced multiunit developers willing to operate at least five and as many as 50 locations in their area. Yet at this writing, its only store is a test kitchen in New Orleans.
So what’s behind Naked Pizza’s explosive growth? If you consider it “going viral,” you’re not far from wrong.
Co-founders Jeff Leach and Randy Crochet are frequently quoted as saying that Naked Pizza isn’t a pizza company, but a social media company that sells pizza. In fact, their entire business plan is based on using social media and rapid expansion to promote a healthier version of a popular fast food, one with no sugar or trans fats and about half the calories of the competition’s products.