We Love Our Clients: Leaning Tower of Pizza
Kevin Harrington utilizes a hands-on approach to business, where hard work, handshakes and smart digital marketing practices are the keys to success.
We recently started working with Leaning Tower of Pizza to refresh their website and develop a digital marketing strategy, which means we've been working side by side with the restaurant's owner, Kevin Harrington. One day it occurred to us that Kevin is a heck of a business man and just a terrific person overall. We decided to get to know him better, and the idea of a little Q&A with him was born.
Tell people a little about you and your business:
Leaning Tower of Pizza is a business that began in Des Moines and is currently located in Ankeny, Iowa. We reached the milestone of being in business for 50 years in 2015 thanks to the ongoing hard work and positive attitudes of our wonderful employees and the support of our incredible customers.
In a meeting we had, you said you’d recently conducted a focus group to gain insight into what your customers want. Why did you do that?
We work with a consultant on a regular basis to improve the business. He was taking an extended learning course on analytics and needed a subject for his course project. In the months prior to this focus group, we had run quite a few ring studies while considering locations all around the Des Moines area for a second restaurant. Combining the two pieces of data studies together resulted in a powerful business planning tool.
What did you learn from your focus group session?
How to remain open-minded about your business. We need to make a conscious effort to listen to our customers because they make keen observations. Very often, as owners, we get so wrapped up (and arrogant) in what we think will be successful that we forget to ask others for help and/or ideas. I walked away from that focus group with one phrase playing over and over again in my head, "How could I have been so obtuse about my own business?"
What is the one thing you wish people knew about Leaning Tower of Pizza?
How much of a passion this is for me and how I instill this way of thinking in my staff. We truly look forward to meeting new people and continuing the friendships that we have already created. We are human and we do make mistakes from time to time, but we respond to those mistakes with heartfelt apologies and a remedy to the situation. We just want you to come in, have fun and most importantly, share a moment and a slice with those sitting at the table with you.
Staff members of Leaning Tower of Pizza say cheese for the camera (sorry, we had to go there)!
Technology changes quickly, but how do you see the web and digital marketing influencing your business?
The world, especially the United States, is becoming a very "need it now" environment due to technological advances in the past 20 years. But this is nothing new. Henry Ford was challenged with the task of meeting customer needs just as businesses are today. If we don't make the necessary changes to meet those customer needs, then the customer won't "need" us.
Because of this, we will add online ordering soon, as a convenience for our customers–especially for younger generations.
What do you see as a modern challenge for your business?
The true challenge to me is maintaining some old-school principles, like eye-to-eye contact, a handshake, a genuine smile and warm hello, while using modern digital technology to attract them to our business.
We need to focus on using the digital tools that work the best for us, while not over-investing in a product that will never be replaced by word of mouth. To me, digital marketing and the web are merely the current and most popular vehicle for grabbing their attention. It is still up to us to welcome our guests once they arrive.
So how do you meet the modern customer's needs?
Our customers' needs are actually about the same as they were 60+ years ago when pizza first came to the Des Moines area. The customer needs to eat. The customer wants to be served with respect. We are a pizza place, plain and simple, so we maintain our core values with it comes to our service and product. I make my own meats, dressings, sauces and don't sacrifice that just to increase the bottom line.
We offer our customers the convenience they have come to expect and that feeling of being taken care of through the use of technology to get our message out to them, always remaining in touch with our core goals of respect and high quality product.
Leaning Tower of Pizza is located at 512 SW 3rd Street in Ankeny and is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.