It might sound like a recipe for disaster, but a regional frozen pizza maker, whose pies were formerly known as Bernatello’s, has dropped that brand name in favor of pursuing an upscale clientele.
In a market where sales are declining nationally, studies have shown that customers are heading back to their favorite restaurants, instead of popping in a frozen pizza. It turns out that people prefer a fresher better tasting product. In order to compete, Bernatello’s Foods has had to increase the quality of their product to meet this new customer focus and downplay their former brand name.
Bernatello’s Foods has its’ roots in a small Minnesota Tavern where is began its’ corporate life in 1970 as “Bud’s Pizza”. In 1982 Marigold Foods purchased a 50% share and changed the name to Bernatello’s. From there it has grown to a multi-state venture employing about 400 people.
Now despite 10% annual growth and yearly sales of over $80 million the company has seen the writing on the wall and is dropping their name from the packaging to emphasize their new push to quality.
Despite competition from multi-national brand like Nestle’s Digiorno or Tombstone and regional giant Schwan’s Red Baron, local Bernatello’s continues to hold fast at #2 in the Twin Cities and Milwaukee markets.
So why should a small town agent care about this change of sales strategy, besides getting a good tip on where to get their next frozen snack.
This sales strategy should be a road map for a successful independent agent. By focusing on quality, sales can go up even in the face of national competition. Insurance agents need to understand that they will not be able to make their voice be heard over the billions of dollars being spent to build insurance brand names. In order to prosper you must rely on a value proposition of service, quality and dependability.
A newspaper article published in Business Horizons back in 1988, “The Service-Quality Puzzle” still rings true. “To earn a reputation for quality, an organization must meet-or exceed- customer expectations.” Stanley Marcus of Neiman Marcus is quoted as saying “The dollar bills the customer gets from the tellers in four banks are the same. What is different are the tellers.”
If insurance agents continue to sell based on price, they will fail to differentiate themselves from the other dollar bills. The surest way to avoid that is to emphasize quality and value. That recipe is the surest way yet to get a larger slice of the pie.