Pittsburgh--Randy Fox had been a Pizza Outlet franchisee for seven years until the 107-store Pittsburgh-based chain launched a re-imaging test in February 2002. Using what then was Fox's one store in Reston, Virginia, the company changed every branded aspect of the unit, both inside and out, and opened its first Vocelli Pizza store.

All the chain's stores have undergone or eventually will undergo signage, exterior and interior overhauls to reflect the Vocelli brand and image. The results of a large survey of Pizza Outlet customers reinforced their ad agency's recommendations: change the chain's name to fit the product, or change the product to fit the chain's name. The company set off to find a new moniker, settling on Vocelli Pizza, an Italian-sounding name it believed would better reflect its high-quality pizza. The company then got to work turning Pizza Outlet's somewhat bland maroon-and-white-colored stores into shops that effused a more Italian feel. Units would be brightened up with green, red and tan accompaniments, tile floors, new signage, boxes and uniforms.

The updated Vocelli Pizza signs are on all the company's stores, but less than 40 percent of the chain's units have been remodeled inside. Franchise stores will be updated more gradually. Not only are current franchisees impressed by the strong results posted by stores in Virginia, new franchisees are lining up to get a piece of the action.

"We have 35 stores sold now that are ready to be opened in the next year and half," said Ablak. "We've sold the rights to develop 11 stores in Boca Raton, the rights to develop 10 stores in Atlanta, and the rights to develop the rest of the Washington, DC, market." -NetWorld Alliance LLC