Hotel / Catering

An express way to career success

by Jonathan Charles

Pizzaexpress - Career success
Justin Kennedy, managing director
PizzaExpress (Hong Kong) Limited
Photo: Courtesy of PizzaExpress

F&B employer finds recruitment for staff as important as marketing for products and services to business success

To beat out competition in Hong Kong's booming catering scene, it takes cunning marketing strategies garnished with handfuls of sales gimmicks and lavish promotions. This only constitutes part of the winning formula of PizzaExpress.

An industry newbie in bustling Hong Kong only some 10 years ago, PizzaExpress has come a long way with its ninth outlet in hip Soho ready to beguile the city's gastronomically sophisticated customers and a 10th coming up to woo APM shoppers and daily commuters in the Kwun Tong district.

Business sustainability and steady progress are constant features on the company's growth menu, reveals Justin Kennedy, managing director, PizzaExpress (Hong Kong) Limited. As such, Mr Kennedy says, the company savours the long-term relationships with its loyal customers and look to nurture new ones.

"We focus on delivering only the best quality in order to satisfy the demanding palates of our existing and new customers," he emphasises. "This is also to ensure that they will be back for more and bring their friends too."

Key ingredients

Known across Hong Kong for its handcrafted pizzas and quality toppings, PizzaExpress promises brand consistency typical of an established restaurant chain and offers its hungry customers an informal dinning experience matched by exceptional service.

"Brand loyalty can only be cultivated through interaction between our customers and dedicated staff members," Mr Kennedy explains. "Word of mouth is always the most effective advertising."

Hong Kong foodies are notoriously picky and they are more prone to go out and try new cuisines. To navigate this customer-driven market and to compete against its business counterparts, the company makes human resources its ultimate trump card.

"We are passionate and focused with all that we do," says Mr Kennedy. "Our service is informal in style, not casual. We deliver service which is friendly, knowledgeable and efficient. So, it is down to our people on the frontline to make sure that our customers will only have good things to say about us."

A pleasantly exciting work environment can effectively boost workforce dynamic. In view of this, each of the company's restaurants installs a unique element, which reflects and fosters a sense of community. The PizzaExpress in Ocean Terminal, Tsim Sha Tsui, for instance, adopts a marine theme. "At the end of the day, our staff are our best brand ambassadors," he emphasises.

Long-term careers

With a view to getting the new APM store up and running, PizzaExpress now looks for passionate people to fill a number of positions ranging from restaurant managers, chefs and wait staff.

The ideal job candidates should have a healthy appetite for Italian cuisine especially pizza. "We also look for people who have a passion for the industry because we're not offering simply a job but long-term career opportunities," stresses Mr Kennedy.

He remarks that a positive, can-do attitude is indispensible. "The restaurant can get busy during peak hours so we need people who understand service and have the right psychological make-up to deliver the kind of quality which our customers deserve."

Wait staff that give consistent, outstanding work performance can expect an express career development route towards the role of captain, supervisor, assistant manager and subsequently restaurant manager. Kitchen staff in turn, may start from Pizzaiolo grade four, and work their way up to grade three and two. "Every member of our staff is part of the team regardless of their positions and ranks," says Mr Kennedy. "We level the playfield for everybody here to excel."

He advises that people looking to tap the industry be prepared for work in a demanding environment which is equally vibrant and stimulating. "Our team members are expected to work to very high standards and deliver quality. We provide all the necessary training and guidance to ensure that they enjoy and look forward to coming back to work," Mr Kennedy concludes.

Recipe for success

  • Focus on quality attracts and retains customers
  • Brand loyalty cultivated through interaction
  • Positive, can-do attitude indispensible to catering careers
  • Recruitment marketing equally important

Taken from Career Times 25 November 2011, B4

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