Special Delivery

Picurro Pizzeria finds the perfect way to promote its pizzerias <i>and</i> help the environment.

By Devlin Smith • Feb 11, 2002

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It's pretty hard to miss, what with its bullet shape, silver coloring and the pizza toppings showered across its body. The Honda Insight that Peter Picurro chose as the delivery vehicle for his Picurro Pizzeria franchise certainly is eye-catching, but more important, it's environmentally friendly, running on electricity and gasoline and getting between 50 and 60 miles per gallon.

Picurro, 40, first became interested in alternatively fueled vehicles about seven years ago, when the electric EV1 came out. Unfortunately, the EV1 didn't hold a charge long enough to handle the schedule of a pizza delivery driver. The self-charging Insight, however, fits the bill perfectly.

The Tucson, Arizona-based pizzeria put its first Insight on the road last July. Picurro anticipates adding two more to his company-owned location this year, and a few franchisees are already following suit.

Response from customers to the car has been overwhelming. "They love it," Picurro says. "We have people who come out, look at the car, ask questions."

While Picurro is benefiting from the exposure his car brings, his employees also occasionally enjoy the perks of sharing the new company vehicle. "We often lost good delivery people because their cars broke down. With a car not operating, they weren't able to make a living, so it was a vicious cycle," Picurro explains. "Now, when they need repairs on their cars, they can drive the Insight, so we have better [employee] retention."

To encourage his franchisees to purchase an Insight, Picurro has categorized the $21,000 cost of the car as a marketing expense. He has also offered his franchisees a $200-a-month incentive for buying the vehicle. That incentive equals the insurance costs for the car.

Owning an Insight can help franchisees save money. Picurro pays only $8 a year to register his hybrid in Arizona, whereas the registration fee for other vehicles can be as much as $500. Labor costs are also reduced when employees use the Insight. "I pay my drivers a wage plus a per-delivery fee when they use their own vehicles," Picurro says. "When they use my vehicle, they don't receive that per-delivery fee, so I've reduced my delivery expense by 1 percent. That's about two-thirds the cost of the car."

Even with all the benefits to his company, Picurro is happiest about how his delivery vehicle is helping the environment. "We did some calculations on the miles the pizza industry [clocks] every year. The amount of gasoline our industry uses to deliver pizzas is staggering," Picurro says. "If we're able to reduce the amount of gas used by 75 percent, that's just amazing."

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