INDIANAPOLIS, IN / ACCESSWIRE / March 18, 2020 / Noble Roman’s, Inc. (OTCQB: NROM), the Indianapolis based franchisor and operator of Noble Roman’s Pizza and Noble Roman’s Craft Pizza & Pub announced today the various steps it has already implemented to deal with the challenges presented by the Covid-19 coronavirus epidemic.
According to Scott Mobley, President of Noble Roman’s, “The Covid-19 pandemic is presenting unparalleled challenges to the foodservice industry, particularly those whose primary focus has been on the dine-in segment. It is our primary concern to responsibly promote the health and safety of our guests and employees. After that, we are charged with being as creative as possible under the circumstances to maximize pizza sales, curb expenses and decrease cash outflows. Fortunately, we have a great team with an entrepreneurial and responsive culture that has allowed us to move in quick and innovative ways on both objectives. Nonetheless, it is a uniquely challenging environment, the likes of which are unprecedented in the history of the company.”
According to Mobley, the non-traditional venue is currently facing fewer governmental shutdowns and restrictions across the country versus the traditional restaurant venue. In convenience stores, the company’s most numerous type of non-traditional unit, food service appears to be largely permitted as usual. In some locales, convenience store foodservice may be the only or most accessible source for away-from-home food. Additional company staff has been diverted to a phone campaign in order to educate operators on the current status and allowability of their foodservice. Additionally, phone campaigns are targeting both franchise owners and on-the-site managers so that reader boards, banners and other materials may message to the public that the Noble Roman’s Pizza operating inside is open for business. However, despite the ability to continue offering foodservice, the numbers of people traveling and commuting have substantially decreased, which impacts the customer counts at convenience stores.
Traditional restaurants and bars are falling under governmental restrictions in various states across the country. In Indiana, where all of the company- and franchisee-owned Craft Pizza & Pubs are located, the governor has used executive authority to close all dine-in facilities effective immediately this past Monday, March 16th, with local boards of health restricting all access to dining room and bar areas. The order is to last until at least the end of March, but the company anticipates the likelihood of restrictions beyond that date. Fortunately, the company’s Craft Pizza & Pubs had previously developed and implemented the novel “Pizza Valet” service, which allows guests to call or order online for delivery to their vehicle upon arrival to the restaurant’s parking lot. Having foreseen the likelihood of the dining room restrictions based on virus trends in foreign countries and the US northwest, the company was immediately able to extend the hours of Pizza Valet service from 4:30-8 daily to all day, every day. The Craft Pizza & Pub website as well as the company’s online ordering system was fully updated within the same time frame.
In anticipation of the probable limitations that are now in place, the company began filming video the previous week to produce a 15-second promotional piece which will be aired on a social media campaign designed to reach several hundred thousand people across the range of the company’s Craft Pizza & Pub markets. The video features and promotes the company’s Pizza Valet curbside service and begins airing today. Additional specials and promotion of the Pizza Valet service are running through the Craft Pizza & Pub email club system. Banners have been produced to promote the service street-side, and brochures are being distributed door-to-door and office-to-office as scheduling permits.
The company is also initiating a public awareness campaign through social media alerting the public to the availability of Craft Pizza & Pub through the third-party delivery services, DoorDash and Grub Hub. Though the company has utilized these services for some time, it has avoided publicizing that fact until now, seeking only to make it known to those customers who source their off-premise consumption purchases through these ecospheres. Given the current conditions, Craft Pizza & Pub will take more steps to advertise the availability of these services. In the meantime, the company is undertaking to analyze the economics of initiating in-house delivery, on a temporary basis only, versus the third-party delivery service, taking into account the added management complexity as well as the direct cost. A determination will be made in the coming days whether this is a viable alternative course of temporary action.
The company has also completed applications to extend its beer and wine licenses to include the ability to sell bottles for carry-out through its Pizza Valet curb-side service. The company has requested expedited review and approval and anticipates that it will be successful in obtaining these permits within a few business days, though the timing and approval cannot be guaranteed. Restaurant management and certain other employees already have the necessary permit to serve, and the company will move to permit pizza valets as well.
Noble Roman’s Craft Pizza & Pub has, since its inception, always taken a very progressive approach to health and safety in its restaurants. One of the primary steps it has always undertaken in company-operated units is to perform a nightly 51-point sanitation cleanse of customer and employee touch points throughout the restaurant utilizing a special hospital grade sanitizing solution. In another example, each unit has a designated Director of Health & Safety whose responsibility it is to monitor compliance with all health and safety standards, to complete a weekly inspection report and to report shortcomings to all restaurant management on a weekly basis. As a final example, all company-owned units perform a pre-shift health check with all arriving employees prior to the start of their shift so that any employees who are ill may return home before working. A more complete discussion of health and safety steps being undertaken during the coronavirus outbreak are available on the Craft Pizza & Pub website at https://www.nrpizzapub.com/news .
Noble Roman’s Craft Pizza & Pub franchisees have been kept abreast of efforts underway at the company-owned restaurants and are implementing similar systems.
From a cost control standpoint at the company-owned Craft Pizza & Pub locations, all landlords have been put on notice that due to the governmental force majeure actions substantially decreasing the usability of the premises, rent will not be paid during the emergency actions of the government. The company has also already eliminated costs associated with running dining rooms, such as satellite TV, music services, heating and air conditioning and linen services. The company has laid off some management personnel and cut back on staff hours to align with current, short-term projections.
Steps have also been taken to reduce staffing expenses at the corporate level. Since the company already runs very tight controls on corporate personnel staffing, and since the company is attempting to mitigate the impact on its experienced staff, it has elected to implement temporary salary cuts of 20% rather than layoffs. The company will restore salaries to their previous level as soon as the emergency orders are lifted by the government and trends normalize to pre-pandemic levels.
Said Mobley, “This is a period of significant unpredictability, but we have acted swiftly to respond to the current coronavirus-induced emergency. Bold steps have been taken and very difficult steps have been taken. Hopefully the situation will resolve as quickly as possible without further action becoming necessary, though we remain prepared to do so. We are deeply concerned about the communities we serve, the guests that expect the highest standards from our operations and the well-being of our employees. I am pleased to report that our staff has more than risen to the occasion and I am very proud of their efforts and sacrifices. In the end, we are all being called to contribute to the national effort to contain and moderate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The statements contained in this press release concerning the company’s future revenues, profitability, financial resources, market demand and product development are forward-looking statements (as such term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995) relating to the company that are based on the beliefs of the management of the company, as well as assumptions and estimates made by and information currently available to the company’s management. The company’s actual results in the future may differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements due to risks and uncertainties that exist in the company’s operations and business environment, including, but not limited to, the uncertainties surrounding the current coronavirus pandemic, competitive factors and pricing pressures, non-renewal of franchise agreements, shifts in market demand, the success of new franchise programs, including the new Noble Roman’s Craft Pizza & Pub format, the company’s ability to successfully operate an increased number of company-owned restaurants, general economic conditions, the ability of the company to maintain various covenants with its lender, further changes in purchases of or demand for the company’s products, licenses or franchises, the success or failure of individual franchisees and licensees, changes in prices or supplies of food ingredients and labor, and dependence on continued involvement of current management. The current coronavirus pandemic remains disruptive and unpredictable, and further government or consumer action could have a substantially adverse impact on the company’s business. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions or estimates prove incorrect, actual results may differ materially from those described herein as anticipated, believed, estimated, expected or intended. The company undertakes no obligations to update the information in this press release for subsequent events.
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SOURCE: Noble Romans, Inc.
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