The Impact of Employee Belief in the Brand on Internal Service Quality: A Study of Primi Piatti
The Impact of Employee Belief in the Brand on
Internal Service Quality: A Study of Primi Piatti
Emma Walker & Simon de Robillard
A thesis submitted in the partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Bachelor of
Arts (Honours) degree in Communications Management specialising in Brand
Leadership at Vega The Brand Communications School.
Supervisor: Brendon Bussy
Vega Cape Town
We declare that The Impact of Employee Belief in the Brand on Internal Service
Quality: A Study of Primi Piatti is our own work, that it has not been submitted for
any degree or examination in any other university, and that all the sources we have
used or quoted have been indicated and acknowledged by complete references.
Emma Walker Simon de Robillard
Simon de Digitally signed by Simon de
DN: cn=Simon de Robillard, o, ou,
________________________ Robillard firstname.lastname@example.org, c=ZA
Date: 2009.05.16 14:40:09 +01'00'
The ultimate purpose of this Alchemy Research paper is to develop a new model of
thinking within the environment of branding. With comprehensive studies having been
accomplished in this field, it has proven necessary to explore an area which delivers a
unique perspective of research findings and one that we would maintain a passion for
throughout this research process.
Having mutual interests and opinions in both the theoretical and practical focus areas of
this research, the two of us decided to do this research paper together, so as to co-invest
our time, energy, and insights.
A shared area of concern for us relates to the issue of service delivery in South Africa, and
its consequent effects on an organisation s reputation and success. We also deliberated
the vital importance of employees and their role in the delivery of service within the
services industry. This led us to the debate of the key ingredients required for a healthy
organisational culture and moreover: the essential requirements for a good interaction
between a customer and an employee.
The theoretical areas investigated are Services Marketing and the Service Industry,
Internal branding, Contact Management, and Employee Belief in the Brand. We then
investigated specific areas of the service industry to identify topics that we thought needed
particular attention. This led us to the restaurant industry where we realised the magnitude
of the waiters roles on customers perceptions of the brand.
We then met with a friend on a social basis who had recently opened a Primi Piatti store,
who explained the procedures of their operations. This particular chain of restaurants
appealed to us both. It can be recognised as a brand-conscious restaurant which pays
attention to the service encounter, but more specifically, the energy exchange between the
waiter and the customer. This inspired us to explore the brand in more detail.
The intention was then to research the internal brand strategy that is unique to Primi Piatti,
paying particular attention to the points of contact that sustain its brand identity most
effectively. Emphasis is placed on the service parameters that communicate a healthy
service encounter, and one that is unique to the brand and its brand promise.
The full working title of this research paper is: The Impact of Employee Belief in the Brand
on Internal Service Quality, A study of Primi Piatti. Subsequently, a specific model will be
created for management of Primi Piatti to apply to their signature brand strategy to improve
the brand identity, and create stronger clarity, synergy and leverage within the Primi Piatti
We believe that this topic is relevant to the service industry and furthermore the branding
industry. It has considerable personal significance due to the shared interests in
problematic service encounters and internal brand strategies. The social significance of this
is that we would like to make a positive contribution to this brand, specifically in the form of
the model created.
Before exploring what is meant by the term service or the service industry, it is necessary
to first review what the definition of a brand is. Jean-Noel Kapferer explains, “A brand is a
focal point for all the positive and negative impressions created by the buyer over time as
he comes into contact with the brand s products, distribution channel, personnel and
Put in the simplest terms, services are deeds, processes, and performances. Service
industries and companies include those that are typically classified within the service sector
whose core product is a service (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 4-5). Compatible with
this simple definition of a service is a more in-depth description of what is meant by this
term, “all economic activities whose output is not a physical product or construction, is
generally consumed at the time it is produced, and provides added value in forms (such as
convenience, amusement, experience) that are essentially intangible concerns of its first
purchaser (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 4-5).
Customer service is also a critical aspect of what is meant by “service delivery.” Customer
service is the service provided in support of a company s core business. Quality customer
service is essential to building customer relationships within the service industry (Zeithaml,
Bitner & Gremler 2006: 4-5).
Primi Piatti is a South African franchise operation that is located all around the country.
Primi Piatti s core offering is a delivery of service, more specifically a customer service with
the aim of each individual experience being excellent service delivery. Superbrands (2005)
describes Primi Piatti as “one of those brands that defy classification.” Superbrands (2005)
explain, “although both the name and the menu are Italian, it is not simply another pizza
chain. Nor is it characterised by red and white checked tablecloths or posters of Italy.
Instead it is an opportunity to share the Zanasi family s passion. Passion for food, for
service, and for exceeding expectations. It is an opportunity to share in their “urban
energy.” Primi Piatti is the embodiment of this passion, a fierce determination to do things
better than anyone else. It is evident in every aspect of the brand, from the front of house
staff to the restaurant design, as well as the food and the marketing.”
One of the philosophies behind Primi Piatti is that people are core to their business and
they recognise the importance of having people engaged, passionate and full of energy.
They have adopted various slogans and words to emphasize their philosophy. One of them
is “Work is Love Made Visible,” which is printed on the back of the orange overalls worn by
the waitrons. The company believes that if they do everything with “love” it makes the
whole customer experience better and makes their lives better too (Bridle 2008). This is a
quote that came from a Lebanese man, living in New York. The full quote is, “Work is Love
Made Visible. If you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should
leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.”
A subtle change of this philosophy s meaning is that it is not about loving what you do, it is
the work that they do being an example of the love that they have within them. In other
words, their work should ultimately be an expression of love. What this means is that
employees on the front line need to be “people s people.” They have to enjoy
communicating and interacting with people, and together with “urban energy” reveal their
passion for people. “Urban energy” is Primi Piatti s brand promise or brand mantra. A brand
mantra is a short expression of the most important aspects of the brand and its core
associations, the enduring “brand DNA,” and the most important aspects of the brand to
the consumer and the company” (Keller, 2008: 39). Primi Piatti s brand manual explains
“urban energy” as “being passionate, energetic and confident, as well as unconventional.”
In agreement with this philosophy it is important to note that because Primi Piatti s offering
is a service, (with people delivering the service and people receiving the service), the
people of the service are of utmost importance in determining the success of the
restaurant. The characteristics of a service versus those of a product are thus important to
There is general agreement that differences between goods and services exist and that the
distinctive characteristics result in challenges (as well as advantages) for service managers
(Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 21). Primi Piatti could consider the nature of services in
comparison to goods, to use these differences to their advantage in the delivery of their
services. It is necessary for Primi Piatti to make this distinction so that they can differentiate
their service offering by establishing the variables that make Primi Piatti unique. The most
basic distinguishing characteristic of a service is its intangibility. Because services are
performances rather than objects, they cannot be seen, felt, tasted or touched in the same
manner that you can tangible goods (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 22). The resulting
implications of this are interesting for Primi Piatti to consider. Their services are difficult to
patent and communicate to customers and pricing is more difficult.
Another difference between a product and a service is the heterogeneous nature of a
service, because services are performances. The implications of this are that no two
services will be exactly the same. The employees delivering the service are often viewed
as the brand itself and each employee s performance will differ from day to day. For
example, if a customer has one bad experience with a waiter, that customer may form an
opinion of the restaurant and brand based on the interactions with the waiter. What this
means is that service delivery and service quality depend on many uncontrollable factors.
Service delivery and customer satisfaction depend on employee and customer actions and
thus there is no sure knowledge that the service delivered matches what was planned and
promoted (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 22). In other words, the service delivery and
customer satisfaction depend more on the intangible brand centred elements.
Another difference for Primi Piatti to note between services versus products is that whereas
most goods are first produced and then sold, most services are sold first and then
produced and consumed simultaneously (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 23). In other
words, Primi Piatti s services cannot be provided until they have been sold, and the actual
dining experience is essentially produced and consumed at the same time. The word “sold”
in this instance insinuates that the customer has entered the restaurant and possibly sat
down and ordered, meaning that he/she will have to pay for whatever they have ordered
regardless of how satisfied they are with what is delivered to them. Once again this shows
that both the employees and the customer participate in the transaction and thus affect the
outcome of the service, as well as customers potentially affecting each other. This then
suggests that the entire experience at Primi Piatti for both employees and customers needs
to be monitored, and employee s need to take control of situations where customers are
not behaving according to Primi Piatti s customary ways. This makes the service encounter
both challenging and difficult to manage.
The final differentiating factor between goods and services is the perishability of the latter.
Perishability refers to the fact that services cannot be saved, stored, returned or resold.
However, the service encounter can certainly be remembered and recalled when contact
with that particular brand is made. What this means for Primi Piatti is that each service
encounter is crucial as customers may never return if they have had a bad experience at
the restaurant. It also implies that Primi Piatti needs to have a strong recovery strategy for
when things do go wrong, so that customers goodwill can at least be recovered.
With the restaurant industry being highly congested and competitive, Primi Piatti would
want to ensure that every interaction with their customers is a pleasurable one with a focus
on retaining those customers and forming a relationship with them. Relationship marketing
or relationship management is a philosophy of doing business, a strategic orientation that
focuses on keeping and improving relationships with current customers rather than on
acquiring new customers (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 177). Retaining and enhancing
relationships with customers is certainly a goal that Primi Piatti should strive towards due to
the benefits that will result for both the brand and the customers. That is, it is not only in the
best interest of the organisation to build and maintain a loyal customer base but customers
themselves also benefit from long term associations.
These benefits include confidence benefits, social benefits and special treatment benefits
(Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 184). Confidence benefits comprise feelings of trust or
confidence in the provider along with a sense of reduced anxiety and comfort in knowing
what to expect. In terms of the social benefits, customers will develop a sense of familiarity
and even a social relationship over time, making it less likely that they will switch to
competitors. The special treatment benefits include getting the benefit of the doubt, being
given a special deal or price, or getting preferential treatment (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler
The benefits for the brand include economic benefits, customer behaviour benefits, and
human resource management benefits. The economic benefits include increased revenues
over time from the customer, reduced marketing and administrative costs, and the ability to
maintain margins without reducing prices (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 185). Positive
word of mouth is the most prominent customer behaviour benefit, together with that which
is referred to as voluntary customer performance, (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 186),
where the customer will serve as a mentor and help the restaurant by, for example,
reporting messy bathrooms. The human resource management benefit for Primi Piatti
would be that it will be easier for them to retain employees if they have a stable base of
This philosophy obviously assumes that customers would prefer to have on ongoing
relationship with one organisation than to switch continually in search of better value. It has
been suggested that firms frequently focus on attracting customers but then pay little
attention to what they should do to keep these customers (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler
2006: 178). Thus, Primi Piatti need to not only focus on ensuring that each individual
interaction is “successful” but aim to make each experience a relationship building one, so
as to retain as many customers as possible. Primi Piatti s offering, therefore, needs to be
unique or differentiated in some regard to transform the exchange relationship from a
satisfying one to one where Primi Piatti is seen as a friend. The goal of the interaction is
therefore to enhance the relationship.
Both parties in the customer–firm relationship can benefit from customer retention. That is,
it is not only in the best interest of the organisation to build and maintain a loyal customer
base, but customers themselves also benefit from the long-term associations (Zeithaml,
Bitner & Gremler 2006: 183). Customers will remain loyal to a firm when they receive
greater value relative to what they expect from competing firms (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler
2006: 183). Value represents a trade off for the consumer between the “give” and the “get”
components. The “gets” have to exceed the “gives” for a customer to stay in the
relationship (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 184). So Primi Piatti may ask how they can
provide this value to sustain their relationships with their customers. The “gets” can be
categorised into three specific categories, namely “quality, satisfaction, and specific
benefits,” whereas the “gives” will generally be the “monetary and nonmonetary costs”
(Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 184).
The benefits to organisations of maintaining and developing a loyal customer base are
numerous. In addition to the economic benefits that a firm receives from cultivating close
relationships with its customers, a variety of customer behaviour benefits and human
resource benefits are also often received (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 185). For Primi
Piatti, these above mentioned benefits could take the form of increased revenues, reduced
marketing and administration costs, free word of mouth advertising, and moreover, people
enjoy working for a firm whose customers are happy and loyal. Employees jobs also
become more satisfying, and they re able to spend more of their time nurturing
relationships than searching for new customers. In turn, customers are more satisfied and
become even better customers – a positive upward spiral. Because employees stay with
the firm for longer, service quality improves and costs of turnover are reduced adding
further to profits (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 187).
Primi Piatti s employees therefore play a fundamental role in service delivery. The
assumption is that even when customer s expectations are well understood, and services
have been designed and specified to conform to those expectations, there may still be
discontinuities in service quality when the service is not delivered as specified (Zeithaml,
Bitner & Gremler 2006: 350). These discontinuities are labelled the service performance
gap in the service quality framework. Because employees frequently perform the service,
human resource issues are a major cause of this gap. By focusing on the critical role of
their employees, organisations can begin to close the service delivery gap. The failure to
deliver services as designed and specified can result from a number of employee
performance factors: ineffective recruitment of service-oriented employees, a lack of
training, poor employee-service job fit, inappropriate compensation systems, lack of
empowerment and finally lack of teamwork (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 350).
Primi Piatti, therefore needs to have effective human resource policies in place to ensure
that they recruit, train and empower the right employees. They also need to ensure that
their service delivery is consistent across their employees.
Before addressing the role of employees in service delivery, we should look at the bigger
picture. The behaviour of employees in an organisation will be heavily influenced by the
culture of the organisation. Corporate culture can be defined as “the pattern of shared
values and beliefs that give members of an organisation meaning, and provide them with
the rules for behaviour in the organisation (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 351). Culture
has been more informally defined as “the way we do things around here” by Piglet in
Winnie the Pooh or as “one of those things we sense in an underneath sort of way” (Winnie
Experts have suggested that a customer-oriented, service-oriented organisation will have,
at its heart, a service culture. This is defined as “a culture where an appreciation for good
service exists, and where giving good service to internal as well as ultimate, external
customers is considered a natural way of life and one of the most important norms by
everyone (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 351). For Primi Piatti this would mean that
firstly, people know that good service is valued in that “underneath sort of way.”
Secondly, Primi Piatti should note that the employees should be treated in the same
manner as how the organisation wishes their customers to be treated. In other words, they
should provide good service both internally and externally. It is not enough to promise
excellent service to final customers if it doesn t come from within, and also that it should be
a “way of life,” or an important norm of the service. Satisfied employees make for satisfied
customers (and satisfied employee s can, in turn, reinforce employee s sense of
satisfaction in their jobs.) Some researchers have gone so far as to suggest that unless
service employees are happy in their jobs, customer satisfaction will be difficult to achieve
(Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 356).
The underlying logic connecting employee satisfaction and loyalty to customer satisfaction
and loyalty, is illustrated by the service profit chain (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 357).
The service profit chain suggests that there are critical linkages among internal service
quality, employee satisfaction/ productivity, the value of services provided to the customer,
and ultimately customer satisfaction, retention and profits.
For the purpose of this study, the most important part of this service–profit chain for Primi
Piatti to consider is how internal quality drives employee satisfaction. This internal quality is
with regard to the actual working environment for employees and is measured by the
feelings that employees have towards their job, their company or brand. Internal quality is
also characterised by the attitudes that people have towards one another and the way
people serve each other inside the organisation (Heskett; Jones; Loveman; Sasser &
A strong service culture begins with leaders in the organisation who demonstrate a passion
for service excellence. Leonard Barry suggests that leaders of successful service firms
tend to have similar core values such as integrity, joy, and respect, and they “infuse those
values into the fabric of the organisation” (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 351). For Primi
Piatti, this would mean that their employees are more likely to embrace the service culture
if they see that management live by the values of their organisation. Thus, the entire
internal structure is of vast importance in Primi Piatti s service delivery process. A quote
from a service expert about the industry reiterates the above-mentioned importance of the
entire internal service employees network: “In a service organisation, if you re not serving
the customer, you d better be serving someone who is.” Both the frontline employees, and
those supporting them from behind the scenes, are critical to the success of any service
organisation (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 354).
The importance of people in the marketing of services is captured in the people element of
the services marketing mix, “as all the human actors who play a part in service delivery and
thus influence the customer s perception, namely the firm s personnel, the customer and
other customers in the service environment” (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 360). In the
case of Primi Piatti, the frontline employees need to be aware of and understand the
significance of their role to the service: (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 360)
• They are the service,
• They are the organisation,
• They are the brand, and
• They are the marketers.
A strategic framework, known as the “services triangle” visually reinforces the importance
of people in the ability of firms to keep their promises and succeed in building customer
relationships. The triangle shows the three interlinked groups that work together to
develop, promote, and deliver services (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 356). The
services marketing triangle would help Primi Piatti, in understanding how their front line
employees can “be” all of the above mentioned points: how they can “deliver the promise.”
Services marketing is about promises – promises made and promises kept to customers
(Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 355).
On the right side of the triangle are the external marketing efforts that the firm engages in
to set up its customer s expectations and make promises to customers regarding what is to
be delivered. Anything or anyone that communicates to the customer before service
delivery can be viewed as part of this external marketing function. However, external
marketing is just the beginning for services marketers: promises made must be kept. On
the bottom of the triangle is interactive marketing where promises are kept or broken by the
firm s employees. The left side of the triangle suggests the critical role played by internal
marketing. Management engages in these activities to aid the providers in their ability to
deliver on the service promise: recruiting, training, motivating, rewarding, and providing
equipment and technology.
To complete the triangle, Primi Piatti s service employees need to be able and willing to
deliver on the promises made. All three sides of the triangle are essential to complete the
whole picture and all three sides should all be aligned so that the triangle does not
collapse. So, what is promised through external marketing should be the same as what is
delivered; and the enabling activities inside the organisation should be aligned with what is
expected of service providers (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 356). What Primi Piatti
promises is “urban energy.” Urban energy is the essence of what is externally
communicated and promised to consumers. Primi Piatti therefore needs to be certain that
their internal enabling activities are fit for those who are delivering this promise to do so.
Those who are delivering this promise are their frontline employees, and this is where the
ultimate decision is made of whether the promise of “urban energy” is kept or broken. The
crux is that there needs to be a steady delivery of the brand promise which is largely
dependent on how well Primi Piatti s employees can live “urban energy.”
However, in recent years, there has been a shift from internal marketing to internal
branding, which takes more of an “inside-out,” value-based approach (Mosley 2007: 128).
Internal branding seeks to develop and reinforce a common value-based ethos, typically
attached to some form of corporate mission or vision (Mosley 2007: 128). Colin Mitchell
explains that “the goal of internal branding is very similar to that of external branding: to
create an emotional connection to your company.” More simply put, the purpose of
Internal Branding is to create an organisational culture that is aligned with and supports the
promise of “urban energy.”
Consistent research over the years has demonstrated that a lack of alignment between
employee behaviour and the brand promise will cause customers to leave as their
expectations remain unfulfilled (Lawrence 2007: 70). Ultimately, customer satisfaction
through exceptional and unwavering delivery of the brand promise will keep customers
coming back (Lawrence 2007: 70).
There are four broad strategies that Primi Piatti could consider for customer–oriented
service delivery to ensure that their employees are willing and able to deliver “urban
energy.” This will be a primary focus of this study. To build a customer- oriented, service-
minded workforce, an organization must: (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 366)
• Hire the right people
• Develop people to deliver service quality
• Provide the needed support systems, and
• Retain the best people.
These above mentioned points are better illustrated in the following figure:
To get the right people, Primi Piatti needs to identify who the best people are to deliver
urban energy and then compete for “talent market share.” This will be discussed at a later
stage. Once potential employees have been identified, Primi Piatti needs to be
conscientious in interviewing and screening to truly identify the best people. Primi Piatti
should also aim to be known as the preferred employer by offering extensive training,
attractive incentives, or excellent internal support.
Yaniv and Farkas argue that the “Person-Organisation Fit plays a significant role in closing
the gap where employees feel a lack of identification with the corporate brand and an
unwillingness to support it adequately.” This notion of a “Person-Organisation Fit” (POF)
can be explained as the match between the individual values of employees and those of
the actual organisation or brand. Yaniv and Farkas research has shown that “employees
POF positively affects the extent to which they perceive their corporate brand values as
congruent with those declared by the management, and that this brand perception level of
customers means a higher trust in the brand and in the corporate body which stands
behind it, and the result is a more powerful brand. It seems therefore that HR managers
have to pay attention to the POF as a means to improve the organisations performance.”
For Primi Piatti, this would ultimately mean that employees need to feel that can identify
with, and deliver on, the “urban energy” that is promised.
To develop people to deliver service quality, Primi Piatti needs to empower their
employees, meaning that they give their employees the desire, skills, tools, and authority to
serve the customer. Many organisations have discovered that to be truly responsive to
customer needs, frontline providers need to be empowered to accommodate customer
requests and to recover on the spot when things go wrong (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler
Promoting teamwork could also be highly effective, especially in a restaurant industry
where the employees duties can be demanding at times. A teamwork environment will
help alleviate employees stresses and allow them to maintain their enthusiasm and
provide quality service. Sifiso Zondi, an expert within the services industry, explains that
brand building is like a team sport where teamwork and a collaborative spirit should be the
unifying drivers. He continues to explain that for the team to consistently win matches,
each player needs to have a “fair amount of empathy” in how they approach the game
“individually and collectively” (Zondi 2007: 40).
To provide the needed support systems, Primi Piatti needs to constantly measure their
internal service quality, to ensure that they are maintaining their unique internal service
culture. To best support service personnel in their delivery of quality service on the front
line, Primi Piatti s internal processes are designed with customer value and customer
satisfaction in mind.
Finally, to retain the best people, Primi Piatti should treat their employees as customers,
should include their employees in the company s vision, and should measure and reward
service performers (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2006: 367).
These strategies, organised around the four main themes, are all related to the internal
marketing side of the services marketing triangle. These strategies, although of vital
importance, are in place for Primi Piatti front line employees to be able to deliver on the
Brand building is a process of identity creation and requires that employees consider and
deliver the brand promise in all that they do, at every point of contact with stakeholders,
from consumer markets to special interest groups (Enslin 2008). The delivery of a brand
promise, of “urban energy” in the case of Primi Piatti, requires strong belief in the brand
Employees base initial beliefs about the organisation on “an image” (for example, what
people have told them about the brand) but firsthand experience quickly overwhelms the
image in terms of its ability to support or contradict those beliefs. Beliefs drive experiences
and the results of those experiences can either reinforce or destroy the beliefs that initiated
them (Enslin 2007). What this means for Primi Piatti is that employees (potential and
current) that are drawn to the brand, have formed their opinion or image of the brand which
can then be supported or changed due to their own personal experience with the brand.
These experiences form their beliefs about the brand, which in turn drive their actions,
which shape results. In other words, belief in the brand will lead to positive actions and
positive results will follow, or vice versa. The “service-profit chain” will reveal this in more
The level of belief an employee has in your company is a measure of their membership in
your brand (Enslin 2007). Strong beliefs equal strong Brand Membership in your company,
weak beliefs equal an employee who will quit, or you ll terminate them because they don t
seem to be working out (Enslin 2007). Ultimately, for Primi Piatti, they want their
employees to have a strong belief in the brand, because strong beliefs in the brand yield
productive employees. Experts on Building Brand Membership have suggested that human
resource systems should be designed to build day-to-day experiences within a brand that
drives Brand Membership. These daily experiences reaffirm the culture and values of the
organisation, resulting in an aligned organisation, with reinforced business results and
longer, more productive relationships with employees (Enslin 2007). Primi Piatti therefore
need to realise that their front line employees are the lifeblood of the organisation, and thus
need to be treated that way.
Branding is about people. People build brands. People buy brands. The relationship at first
glance, is a simple one – build a good brand and others will buy it. At the heart of this
relationship, however, are the employees (Harris 2007). It is the employees who enact the
attributes of the brand and whose actions ultimately foster customer experience – whether
good or bad (Harris 2007). Employees have the formidable task of demonstrating the brand
by the actions they take on the front line. The adage actions speak louder than words is a
truth that holds firm in the process of building successful brands (Harris 2007). This is
especially noteworthy to Primi Piatti, with a brand promise and essence of “urban energy,” -
that their employees retain the most resonance (or are natural carriers of this promise)
when it comes to delivering energy. This energy so to speak, needs to be developed from
within and result from an internal structure that s supportive to and encouraging of
enthusiastic, energetic behaviour. There is a strong need to manage, or at least positively
influence, the identity that is transferred outwardly – in order to maintain consistency and
overall control (Harris 2007). Thus the internal workings should form an integral part of
brand management (Harris 2007).
In a service environment where the delivery of the brand s promise is heavily dependent on
the employees, the internal structures need to be accommodating and supportive of this.
The brand itself needs to be established and dominant in their strategies, their training,
working style facilities etc, it needs to be widespread across the organisation (Harris 2007).
Brands come to life when internal and external boundaries are blurred (Harris 2007). The
relationship between Primi Piatti s employees and their customers should be two way and
sincere. What is displayed externally is chiefly a reflection of the activities of the internal
organisation (Harris 2007). For this reason, Primi Piatti s internal brand management
should be the creed by which the entire organisation lives their brand on a daily basis. The
key is to provide staff with appropriate tools thereby allowing them to be the strategy and
live the brand (Harris 2007).
Authenticity is very important to brands, and attempts to over-control the service encounter
with “fake,” or scripted behaviour which often backfires both functionally (through lack of
responsiveness) and emotionally - through lack of genuine personality (Mosley 2007: 127).
Primi Piatti therefore needs to be certain that there is a clear understanding of the brand
promise and then encourage their employees to act accordingly, hopefully naturally. Thus,
the “right” type of employee needs to be employed or the employees need to have a good
enough reason to adopt this attitude, so as to resonate the brand. The right type of
employee is thus one who can naturally convey “urban energy,” which, according to their
interpretation of this, would be confident, passionate and energetic by nature.
While most restaurant/franchise owners would characterise their success in terms of total
turnover or on the number of branches opened, Primi Piatti s owners have been quite
different. Francesco Zanasi (the franchise owner), sees his greatest achievement as
empowering the hundreds of people that have passed through the Primi family. The Primi
Piatti approach has been to turn a traditionally unionised and unmotivated labour force into
a performance driven team by empowering the individual and creating a goal–driven
reward structure. In so doing Primi Piatti has virtually rewritten the rules on running a
restaurant in South Africa. They have demonstrated that passion starts from within and that
by empowering even the most junior member of staff you can create a dynamic and
unrivalled energy. In so doing they have come up with a business model that is not reliant
on low input costs in particular cheap labour, which has traditionally been the mainstay of
the hospitality industry (Superbrands 2005).
While effective internal brand strategy tools and communications can be designed and
implemented to create understanding of the concept of brand and convey the intent of the
brand promise, it may still be critically short of creating and building an organisation of
emotionally connected people who believe in the brand (Enslin 2008). In congruency with
Enslin s argument, Primi Piatti s entire internal organisation has been built by people –
employees that feel a strong emotional connection to the brand and believe in the brand.
This is a highly involved challenge for any brand builders as they need to (in Enslin s
opinion) feel for, value, trust and have regard for the brand.
Enslin furthermore provides four key thoughts on what attributes brands need to have in
order for employees to believe in them. These four thoughts sum up a large portion of the
literature explored above. Brand builders should consider and invest in these as they
determine and direct successful delivery of the brand promise (Enslin 2008).
Employees believe in the brand when: (Enslin 2008)
• The brand “walks its talk,” both internally and externally.
• Operational systems guide, encourage, recognise and reward on-brand behaviour,
and recruitment systems create natural brand fit.
• The brand vision, identity, actions and employee s roles in brand building are fully
understood and felt to be worth believing in.
• Leadership lives the brand.
With regard to the first thought, the brand needs to deliver on its promise in all that it does
– at each and every point of contact, both externally and internally. For Primi Piatti, this
would mean that “urban energy” is not only conveyed to the customers (externally) but that
this “urban energy” is also lived and felt by the employees (internally). In addition, Enslin
maintains that employees are more likely to believe in the company or organisational brand
that delivers its promises even-handedly to its own employees as well as to its most
valuable customers. The first requisite for employee belief in the company or organisational
brand is to “walk the brand talk,” both internally and externally (Enslin 2008). By this, Primi
Piatti should be able to argue that not only do their employees need to convey the
passionate, energetic and confident message to the outside (to customers) but also need
to feel these above mentioned values towards the brand. With regards to the second
thought, Enslin provides operational brand needs, which Primi Piatti could consider to
determine employees belief in the brand:
• A need for the design and implementation of brand – focused job role descriptions,
performance criteria and business reward models.
• A need for brand sessions aimed at emotionally engaging employees.
• A need for projects dedicated to the employee-brand relationship.
• A need for company recruitment and interview models that create employee brand-
fit, thus avoiding an internal brand condition that Coyler (2003: 3) describes as
“trying to squeeze new employees until they fit or are fit to burst.
In consideration of the third thought, Mitchell (2005: 5) argues that “employees need to
have clear and powerful view of what they are part of and where the brand and business
are going” (Enslin 2007). To add to this, Schultz and Hatch argue that “a company must
align three essential, interdependent elements - call them strategic stars – to create a
strong corporate brand: vision, culture and image.” (Hatch & Schultz 2001). The reason for
this necessary alignment is that a different group of people urges each element. These
three groups are the employees, the outside world and management. “Vision” can be
described as “top management s aspirations for the company“ (Hatch & Schultz 2001).
“Culture” (as previously described) is the organisation s values, behaviours, and attitudes -
that is, the way employees all through the ranks feel about the company (Hatch & Schultz
2001). “Image” can be described as the outside world s overall impression of the company.
This includes all stakeholders – customers, shareholders, the media, and the general
public and so on (Hatch & Schultz 2001).
Therefore, for Primi Piatti to successfully build a corporate brand, and to attain employee s
belief in the brand, these three above mentioned “strategic stars” need to be aligned, fully
understood by employees and employees need to feel that they re worth believing in. To
effectively build a corporate brand, executives need to identify where their strategic stars
fall out of line (Hatch & Schultz 2001: 4). Hatch and Schultz have a developed a corporate
branding tool kit that Primi Piatti could make use of as they have designed questions that
can help in revealing the misalignments in the three elements. The first set of questions
looks at the relationship between vision and culture; how managers and employees are
aligned (Hatch & Schultz 2001). The second set addresses culture and image, uncovering
possible gaps between the attitudes of employees and the perceptions of the outside world
(Hatch & Schultz 2001). The last set explores the vision-image gap – is management
taking the company in a direction that its stakeholders support? (Hatch & Schultz 2001).
The fourth thought, that leadership must live the brand, also correlates to the above-
mentioned elements that need to be aligned. The influence that leadership of the brand has
on employee belief in the brand is seen to be a critical factor (Enslin 2008). The company
or brand can only “walk its brand talk” internally and externally if its leadership exhibits the
proper deep-seated brand values (Enslin 2008). Enslin continues to reason that it is also
leadership of the brand that directs the brand vision, identity and operational systems to
guide, encourage, recognise and reward on-brand behaviour.
Summarising this above argument, the brand or businesses actual performances, their
culture, the management and leadership thereof is to be healthy for employee belief in the
brand to result. To build an internal organisation of people who believe in the brand and
coherently deliver on its promise internal brand building must be integral to business and
brand strategy (Enslin 2008).
For internal brand building to be central to Primi Piatti, a brand contact council together
with brand champions may be essential. The opening definition of a brand would also
explain that Primi Piatti s brand would be activated at every single point of the value chain,
meaning that there is a need for a singular coherent brand strategy to be integrated
throughout the value chain. To successfully achieve this, Primi Piatti would need vigilant,
constant management of these touch points that consumers will have with the brand.
The purpose of brand contact management is to achieve an integrated brand identity, a
state in which all of the points of contact between a brand and its target audience
communicate what the brand stands for (Enslin 2007). The objective and the importance of
contact management is crucial for Primi Piatti, as Enslin explains, to “ensure that the brand
acts meaningfully, that it is consistent in the delivery of its promise, and that it grows into an
attractive, credible and trustworthy brand.”
To ensure that Primi Piatti s active contact points (that influence what their customers think
and experience with the brand) are coherently delivered, a “brand contact council” or team
of employees managing the brand could be created. A brand contact council comes into
being and is tasked to ensure brand contact integration is achieved in the daily life of the
company (Enslin 2007). The council must be designed to reflect the contact nature of the
company, its key fields of contact with its consumer markets and target audiences (Enslin
2007). For Primi Piatti this would mean ensuring that at every point of contact a coherent
image is communicated. Ideally, this should be one that is as close to their brand identity
To gain further insight into the employee type required for the brand contact council, and in
a case (such as Primi Piatti) where the front-line employees hold such importance, there is
a need for brand champions – employees who “know and care.”
Enterprise IG (now Brand Union) designed a “Buy-In Matrix” with four categories on two
axes: intellectual commitment and emotional commitment. The ideal employee, as
explained by Enterprise IG is one who both understands what the company is trying to do
(intellectual commitment) and cares about this aim (emotionally committed). A “loose
cannon” may care about what the company is trying to do but doesn t know what to do
about this. Others, the “bystanders,” know what the company is trying to do, but don t care,
and the worst, the “weak links” neither know nor care. Thus, a “brand champion” is
someone who both understands what the company is trying to do and is emotionally
committed to helping it succeed. To achieve an organisation or brand that is comprised of
brand champions, Primi Piatti need engagement from their employees.
Consequently, it is imperative to understand what engagement is. In the words of
Enterprise IG: “Being engaged is something special. Your mind is alert and absorbed. Your
emotions are heightened. Your attention is focused, and your behaviour is channelled.
True engagement, then, is about behaviour. It s not the same as, say, satisfaction, which is
passive. That s why familiar and overused measures such as employee engagement, are
not about awareness or familiarity with a particular message. Internal branding, internal
marketing, and internal communications are all important supporting acts in brand
engagement. But if left alone simply as communications, they merely scratch the surface.”
Thus, once Primi Piatti s internal branding measures are in effect and valuable, their
gauging of “real engagement” will take them further. Enterprise IG explains that the first
thing that real engagement does is encourage on-brand behaviour, which is where their
above mentioned employees will need an in-depth understanding of what the brand stands
for, and what this means for their daily activities. This is the trigger of the first key
ingredient to engagement, intellectual connection, which is knowing what, why and how.
The second drive behind engagement is emotional commitment, which Enterprise IG
explains will happen when employees are motivated. Branding has always been about
establishing emotional ties between the brand and the consumer. Engagement happens
when employees hear the message, believe the message, and then live or act upon it
(Mitchell 2005). In order to hear the message, Primi Piatti need to communicate with their
employees so that they have a clear view of what they are part of and where the brand
currently and potentially stands. Here again, Primi Piatti s employees need to find a good
balance between the emotional and intellectual connection to the brand so that their
employee s missions and visions have the necessary intellectual grounding together with
the emotional connection. More simply, the message needs to reach both the head and the
A sine qua non for any successful attempt to engage employees is senior management s
own engagement (Mitchell 2005). This will enable employees to also “see” this
engagement and not only hear it as it will be the same senior managers conveying the
message that needs to be heard. The message will be much more meaningful to
employees if the ones that are the giving the message are living by example themselves.
As Enterprise IG put it, “it is here that any disconnect between stated objective and
behaviour – between word and deed - will be instantly spotted. If the organisation s leaders
don t see the effort as a genuine priority, then frankly it s probably not worth the bother
After hearing the message, employee s need to believe in the message. “Believing”
happens when the message becomes real for me, in my job, day-to-day (Mitchell 2005).
Taking orders, serving customers their food and drinks, setting and clearing tables, and
numerous trips to the kitchen and back; these are the day-to-day duties where the
message needs to be believable. If engagement is all about behaviours rather than just
attitudes, engaging people happens via the day job. This requires often painstaking
dialogue about the implications of the brand at an individual and team level, where the day-
to-day work gets done (Mitchell 2005).
For engagement to work, hearing and believing is not enough. Thirdly and possibly most
importantly is living the brand. Enterprise IG explain, that “this is where the day-to-day
operational implications of the brand message are embedded into the sinews of the
organisation: where the nitty-gritty of aligning work patterns and priorities, systems,
policies, incentives, processes, structures and recognition systems takes over (Mitchell
2005). To deliver a great brand experience to customers, Enterprise IG explains that
“employees must be supported every step of the way, with the right training, tools,
processes, incentives, materials, management backup and so on.”
Once again this reiterates that every touch point will communicate. The internal and
external communication systems therefore need to be aligned, so that a coherent, well-
integrated message is shared. Every customer touch point is a communication opportunity,
or disaster – likewise with employees (Mitchell 2005).
The essence is therefore that the brand Primi Piatti needs to be boosted through the entire
employee journey to enable employees to deliver a brand experience that is powerful to
their customers. Following the above-mentioned guidelines, Primi Piatti can achieve
employee belief in the brand that will lead to a more credible brand, a successful delivery of
service or customer-brand interaction, and ultimately a brand that many consumers are in
The methodological approach chosen for this research follows a process advised by W.G.
Zikmund and B.J. Babin that comprises of six stages. The stages of the research process
overlap continuously and it is somewhat of an oversimplification to state that every
research project has exactly the same ordered sequence of activities. (Zikmund, W.G &
Babin, B.J, 2007: 58). The stages are:
1. Defining the research objectives
2. Planning the research design
3. Planning the sample
4. Collecting the data
5. Analyzing the data
6. Formulating the conclusions and preparing the report.
The research objectives are the goals to be achieved by conducting the research
(Zikmund, W.G & Babin, B.J, 2007: 59). The primary objective of this research is to define
the impact of employee belief in the brand on the internal service quality of the brand. In
order to achieve the research objective, a selection of exploratory research techniques is
necessary so as to plan the research design, which is the second step.
Exploratory research is conducted to clarify ambiguous situations or discover ideas.
Usually it is conducted with the expectation that more research will be needed to provide
more conclusive evidence. Using exploratory research can also make the difference in
determining the usefulness of other related research (Zikmund, W.G & Babin, B.J, 2007:
The primary rationale of the use of this research type for our study is to discover and
generate new ideas. The specific category of exploratory research chosen for this study
involves articles, journals, case studies, and other published sources of relevance such as
In planning the research design, a selection of basic research methods is required
(Zikmund, W.G & Babin, B.J, 2007: 60). For the purpose of this study, both quantitative and
qualitative research is performed.
Based on the evidence of Shiffman and Kanuk, quantitative research involves predicting
consumer behaviour by understanding the effects various promotional inputs have on the
consumer. These may be carried out by means of surveys, experiments and observations
whereby the data collected is generally descriptive in nature.
Qualitative marketing research is research that addresses marketing objectives through
techniques that allow the researcher to provide elaborate interpretations of market
phenomena without depending on numerical measurement; its focus is on discovering true
inner meanings and new insights (Zikmund, W.G & Babin, B.J, 2007: 129). The qualitative
research technique used for the purpose of this study was depth interviews. A depth
interview is a one-on-one interview between a researcher and a research respondent
conducted about some relevant business or social topic (Zikmund, W.G & Babin, B.J,
In planning the research design, we decided that we would start the research process with
the quantitative research, and then proceed to the qualitative research. The quantitative
research for this study was carried out by means of a questionnaire.
The Western Cape is the province with the most Primi Piatti stores, followed by Kwa-Zulu
Natal. Accordingly, we decided that we would use the Kwa-Zulu Natal stores as a trial
process, and subsequently decide whether the questionnaire needed altering to precede
with the Western Cape stores.
Planning the sample is the third step of the methodological approach chosen. A sample is
a subset, or some part, of a larger population (Zikmund, W.G & Babin, B.J, 2007: 403). For
this research objective, nonprobability sampling will be used. Nonprobability sampling is a
sampling technique in which units of the sample are selected on the basis of personal
judgement or convenience (Zikmund, W.G & Babin, B.J, 2007: 411). The nonprobability
sample technique chosen is a convenience sample due to its low cost and
We defined the Primi Piatti waitrons as the brand s primary contact point with customers,
and believe that they communicate the brand most powerfully, hence playing a
fundamental role in Primi Piatti s overall image. For this reason we defined the waitrons as
the planned sample for this questionnaire. The aim of the questionnaire was to attain the
employee s level of belief in the brand through the questions asked so that we could
determine the degree of Primi Piatti s internal service quality. Thus, to compile the
questionnaire it was necessary to understand exactly what constitutes employee belief in
the brand. We felt that our study would be most accurate if we obtained as many findings
as possible, across all cultures and demographics within the Primi Piatti family. Forty
waitrons in Kwa-Zulu Natal completed the questionnaire, and a further seventy from the
Following the quantitative research came the task of planning the qualitative research, to
be conducted with people in higher organisational roles at Primi Piatti, including managers,
owners and the marketing manager. The chosen qualitative research techniques were
depth interviews and conversations. Conversations are an informal qualitative data
gathering approach in which the researcher engages a respondent in a discussion of the
relevant subject matter (Zikmund, W.G & Babin, B.J, 2007: 150).
Data gathering is the fourth step of this research process, and can also be described as
“fieldwork.” We planned on conducting our research at times that were most appropriate to
the Primi Piatti staff considering their active profession. This would enable us to attain their
utmost attention when engaging with our questionnaire, and gather the most accurate
results required. We also intended on spending as much time within a number of the Primi
Piatti environments as possible, to gain a better understanding of the ethos and
organisational culture that is unique to the brand.
Conducting the research also meant considering the ethical components of the research
process. As in all human interactions, ethical issues exist in marketing research (Zikmund,
W.G & Babin, B.J, 2007: 85). Accordingly, we gained the necessary authorisation to carry
out our research process that would pose no threat to employee safety. Moral standards
are principles that reflect beliefs about what is ethical and what is unethical (Zikmund, W.G
& Babin, B.J, 2007:86). Moral standards that we found ethical and applicable were
communicated to all participants during this research process.
The primary research conducted always followed the particular participants consent. The
purpose of the study was briefly explained to them in handing them the questionnaire, and
the respondent was informed that they would remain anonymous. Honest cooperation was
the main obligation of the research process and so the participants were all informed that
their responses would remain confidential. We established that confidentiality was the only
means of obtaining truthful responses.
During the June/July holiday we visited the five stores in Kwa-Zulu Natal, and spent
approximately two hours at each store completing the questionnaires and talking to each of
the managers. We found that at two of the stores the manager was also the owner of the
store, which allowed us to gain further information about the store, more specifically about
the franchise. This conversational approach was almost completely unstructured, and we
entered into these conversations with few expectations.
We then met with Sean Holmes, the Marketing Manager of Primi Piatti at their head office
in Cape Town, to conduct the depth interview which lasted an hour and a half. The primary
objective of this depth interview was to gain insight into Primi Piatti s internal systems and
structures. We were able to form a structured discussion session that allowed us to gain
detailed insight into the training, recruitment and reward systems; as well as some
constructive information regarding the brand s philosophy. Some of this information
contributed to the content of the questionnaire.
Our role as the researchers was crucial during this interview as we needed to encourage
Holmes to talk freely without influencing the direction of the conversation, yet still ask
relevant, specific questions. Although we had established particular questions before the
interview, the flow and atmosphere of the interview allowed us to ask several more
After collecting all this data, we were finally able to proceed to the fifth step of our research
process – analysing the data. In analysing the qualitative data - the information gathered
from our interview with Holmes, it became clear from the start that he has great enthusiasm
towards, and in-depth knowledge of the Primi Piatti brand. A topic that regularly came up
was the importance of taking pride and ownership of ones work, and this related to every
person employed by Primi Piatti. Employees are encouraged to always give of their best
and collectively pursue their goals, which is essentially achieved through strong teamwork
and motivation. One of these goals is to strive towards delivering a “perfect Primi day,”
whereby waitrons are expected to consistently deliver on the brands promise in everything
that they do. However, Holmes pointed out that this was the most difficult and challenging
obstacle for Primi Piatti, as it entailed constant monitoring and training to achieve the
Next, the quantitative data was analysed. Having initially compiled a trial questionnaire,
where we collected data from the five Kwa-Zulu Natal stores, including Gateway, Ballito,
Hillcrest, and Pietermaritzburg; we came to realise in analysing the data that the
questionnaire was too long and that the questions weren t specific enough. We realised
that the questions weren t accurately aligned with our objectives and that our planning of
the process was problematic. In conducting these questionnaires we found that the
waitrons would have to hand their tables over to another waiter to be able to answer our
questionnaire and therefore only one waiter would be able to answer it at a time. We also
established that each waiter spent more time completing the questionnaire than expected,
meaning that the average time spent in each store was too long (approximately two to
We then decided to send the questionnaire for external assessment to Brendon Bussy and
Carla Enslin, Vega Brand Communication School Navigators. This was helpful as we were
able to narrow it down to a more precise, clear-cut questionnaire, with eighteen questions
as opposed to the previous forty questions. The final deduction made from the first
questionnaire was that we gathered too many detailed answers to the wrong questions and
would at least now be able to get clear answers to the right questions.
Succeeding this, we finalised our second questionnaire, which we then took to the Primi
Piatti s of the Western Cape. The final questions chosen for the questionnaire were derived
directly from Enslin s article, Building an Organisation of People who believe in the Brand.
This would allow for us to examine the level of Internal Service Quality of Primi Piatti. Once
this was complete we were able to move on to the next step of the research process –
analysing this data.
Analysing this data meant tabulating our findings from the quantitative research and
reviewing the information recorded from the qualitative research. The final stage of the
research process consisted of interpreting the research results, describing the implications,
and drawing the appropriate conclusions.
The tabulated findings from the quantitative research are revealed below. The seventy
waitrons responses have been recorded below as a percentage.
The results from question one and two therefore reflect that the employees feel that their
work environment allows them to deliver urban energy to their customers very well. We
believe that their work environment has a critical role in enabling employees to deliver on
the brand promise of urban energy. As Enslin s article states, “for employees to believe in
the company brand, it must be seen to deliver on its brand promise in all that it does – at
each and every point of contact, both internally and externally.” The employees obviously
feel that their environment supports them in their jobs and is well aligned with the brand
promise. As the services triangle shows, unless service employees are willing to deliver on
the promises made, the services triangle will collapse and the brand will not be successful.
In short, that what is promised (urban energy) through external marketing should be the
same as what is delivered by the waitrons; and the enabling activities inside the
organisation should be, and evidently are aligned with the duties of these waitrons.
The third question s figures show that the employees strongly believe that a consistent
delivery of urban energy is experienced by customers. With Primi Piatti being a franchise it
is of upmost importance that consistency and regularity occurs so that a uniform brand
image can result. The emphasis of this question are the words every and whenever, as
we felt it important to test the stability of the brand. Again, as Enslin states, “brand integrity
and credibility requires coherent brand contact performance.” Enslin also states that “a
brand promise executed merely at a superficial level is likely to meet with employee ridicule
and does not lead to a growth in internal brand pride.”
The fourth question also related to the first element of employee belief in the brand – when
the brand “walks its talk, both internally and externally.” This was an interesting finding as
92% of respondents felt that the same level of “urban energy” that customers experience is
both lived and felt by them (the waitrons). This again indicates that Primi Piatti delivers their
brand promise even-handedly to their own employees as they do their customers. This
synergy of the brand promise between the brand and its employees, and the brand with its
customers certainly contributes to the integrity of the brand. It was also interesting to find
that 67% of employees felt that they are treated in the same manner as the brand s most
valuable customers. There were only 7% of employees who felt that they were treated
worse than their most valued customers, leaving a substantial 26% of respondents saying
that they are treated better by management than what their most valued customers are.
This was an impressive finding as we believed that if the waitrons felt that their needs are
taken care of (as customers needs are), and if they feel valued then the employees are
more likely to stay longer with the organisation. From these findings we deduced that Primi
Piatti has in fact adopted the idea that employees are also customers of the
brand/organisation, and that their basic brand strategies can be directed at them as well as
at customers. This enabled us to conclude that the brand Primi Piatti does walk its brand
talk, both internally as well as externally.
After establishing that the Primi Piatti employees are both willing and able to deliver on the
brands promise, we questioned the employees on the second element suggested by Enslin
on employee belief in the brand. Enslin states that employees believe in the brand when
“operational systems guide, encourage, recognise, and reward on-brand behavior; and
recruitment systems create natural brand- fit.” The first question that we felt suitable to ask
here was whether they know exactly what is expected of them in their daily work. We felt
that if their job description was clear and focused they would surely be more confident in
their daily routines as they would know what they are supposed to be doing, and this would
eliminate any unnecessary job uncertainties. This was an interesting finding as it was the
only question of the questionnaire where 100% of the waitrons answered positively – that
they do know exactly what is expected of them in their daily work. This also indicates that
the waitrons extensive training is effective in ensuring that their daily responsibilities are
The next finding was that 95% of waitrons are aware that their actions are monitored by
management. Management s role is essentially to engage in the waitrons activities and to
assist them in their ability to deliver the required service. Teamwork is an important part in
service delivery and as question sixteen also proved; the Primi Piatti employees treat each
other remarkably well at work. The nature of the waitrons jobs also suggests that customer
satisfaction will be increased when the waitrons work as a team, which is evidently the
case with the Primi Piatti employees.
In addition, because their jobs can frequently be frustrating, challenging and demanding of
their attention, the Primi Piatti teamwork environment obviously assists in alleviating the
pressure. From this we can conclude that the Primi Piatti employees feel supported by one
another and by their management, assisting them in providing efficient service delivery and
enabling them to maintain their enthusiasm.
The next two questions were linked – the first was to determine whether waitrons feel that
they were rewarded at all for good performance, and the second was to determine whether
they feel that they are rewarded enough for good performance. We believe that if Primi
Piatti wants their strong performers to stay with the organisation, significant reward
systems need to be implemented. The first finding was that only 51% of the respondents
believe that they are rewarded for good performance, leaving 49% maintaining that they
are not rewarded for good performance. More interesting, is that 72% of the waitrons
believe that they are not rewarded enough for good performance. This was the only finding
in the questionnaire with a negative result. This result may be problematic for Primi Piatti,
as we believe that even the waitrons that are essentially motivated to deliver great service
will eventually become despondent if their performance is not recognised and rewarded.
With teamwork being such a prevalent subject, we would recommend that Primi Piatti
introduce a peer reward system, where employees are able to recognise and reward one
another. We further recommend that the empowerment opportunities already available
within Primi Piatti be better communicated to employees. The reason for this is that
employee empowerment is part of the brand s vision and values and could therefore be
aligned with the reward systems.
79% of waitrons are aware of the opportunities for them to improve in their position at Primi
Piatti. Examples of these opportunities are for waitrons to be promoted to store managers.
Store managers are seldom recruited externally. Instead it is rather the waiters that have
performed exceptionally well in their roles that are then promoted to managerial positions.
The greatest opportunity available is that an inexperienced person may walk into the
restaurant and have the right brand-personality fit to then be trained into a waitron position.
If this person succeeds in their role, they can over time be promoted to for example a
managerial position. Primi Piatti s staff motivation is achieved through a ranking system
with a performance based structure, where every employee has the opportunity to grow in
their position and develop themselves. They are continuously pushed to improve their rank,
responsibilities, and income.
The next two questions asked still relate to Enslin s second requirement for employee
belief in the brand. As Enslin states, there is a “need for brand sessions aimed at
emotionally engaging employees, and a need for projects dedicated to building the
64% of the employees answered yes to the question of whether they have organised
sessions where they can express their emotions about their work. In looking further into
this we realised that the 24% of employees that had answered no, was because of the
short time that they had worked for Primi Piatti. We would however recommend to Primi
Piatti that more regular sessions are organised so that more feedback can be attained from
the employees, and the organisation can learn of any needs or issues that need to be
Enslin also writes that there is “a need for company recruitment and interview models that
create employee brand-fit, thus avoiding an internal brand condition described as trying to
squeeze new employees until they fit or are fit to burst.” This is an area where Primi can be
commended, as the overall feel as well as the individual interactions experienced with the
waitrons demonstrated the natural personality-brand fit. The hiring procedures at Primi
Piatti focus specifically on the individual s personality as Primi Piatti recognise that the right
personality can then be trained to be a competent waitron. However, if the individual has
experience in the delivery of service, with the wrong personality for the brand, the natural
personality-brand fit mentioned above will not occur.
Individuals need to be passionate, energetic and enthusiastic. They are then sent to the
training centre where extensive training procedures have been established to enable staff
to practice the code of behaviour.
The third element of Enslin s article refers to the point that the brand vision, identity, actions
and employees roles in brand building are fully understood and felt to be worth believing in.
Although this point is relevant to attaining employee belief in the brand, we felt that the
employees had a clear idea of what they are a part of – which was adequate for this brand.
As previously mentioned, the waitrons fully understand their roles in brand building, and
form a significant part of the brand identity. The final two open-ended questions of why
they think Primi Piatti exists and what they aim to achieve as a business also proved that
their existence and vision is well understood.
The fourth and final element of employee belief in the brand refers to “leadership living the
brand.” Enslin explains that the “the notion that employee belief in the company brand
requires the executive to live the brand values and behave according to the brand code in
all that they say and do.” 77% of the Primi Piatti waitrons felt that their management
behave the way that they are expected to behave, and 87% believe that management is a
good example for them to follow. After completing the questionnaire we discovered that the
first of these two questions was not worded accurately enough, as many respondents
misinterpreted the question. The majority of them that answered no argued that the
reason for this is that management has a more formal role to fulfill in the restaurant.
The final conclusion from these above findings is that the level of employee belief in the
brand at Primi Piatti is exceptional:
• The Primi Piatti brand walks its talk internally and externally,
• Primi Piatti s operational systems create natural brand-fit,
• Primi Piatti s brand elements are well understood and felt to be worth believing in,
• Primi Piatti s leaders live the brand.
Reinforcing Enslin s conclusions, “building an organisation of people who believe in the
brand and coherently deliver its promise, internal brand building must be integral to
business and brand strategy.” Thus, Primi Piatti s high level of employee belief in the brand
results in a high level of “internal service quality” – revealed in the service-profit chain. As
previously discussed, and experienced firsthand with Primi Piatti, the subsequent effects
In summary, Primi Piatti s internal service quality is strong, resulting from the employees
belief in the brand. Following from this, the employees are satisfied in their jobs, which
make them work effectively, efficiently, and employee retention is enjoyed. These satisfied
employees then make for satisfied customers, leading to loyalty from customers, thus
making the brand profitable and furthermore generating revenue growth.
Our chosen topic enabled us to remain motivated and dedicated throughout the research
process due to the gradual yet ongoing developments of the research findings. The
decision to co-invest our time, energy and skills proved beneficial in achieving our desired
results. We also aim to make a positive contribution to the brand Primi Piatti by providing
them with our research findings and model developed.
Should this research topic be taken further, it would be interesting to investigate the
external service value element of the service profit chain resulting from the brands internal
service quality. This would involve gaining the insight and opinions of Primi Piatti
customers towards the brand.
From our findings we were able to develop a new model of thinking within the branding
environment, which was the ultimate aim of this research document. This new model of
thinking is revealed in the practical submission of the research, and can be summarised as
Employee belief in the brand is of vital importance in the services industry. A high
level of employee belief in the brand will result in a high level of internal service
quality. The three major benefits of a high level of internal service quality are;
employee satisfaction, employee retention, and employee productivity. These
factors will comprise a strong level of service delivered to customers resulting
ultimately in both revenue growth and profitability.
Taking our lead from life itself, we understand that everything consists of elements. And it
is observing these elements, we realise that everything is connected and to turn chaos into
orders we need to share energy and exchange creativity with each other and our
surrounds, which gives way to inspiration. It s a simple fact that energy is what keeps
things moving, operating. And at Primi Piatti, we identify this vital force as Urban Energy:
connection and inspired interactions with others and the environment.
The above statement is a common feature when one comes into contact with the Primi
Piatti brand. It appears on their pizza boxes, website, brochures and menus, and shows
the level of commitment they have towards their customers, staff and the environment.
It is this approach that inspired our decision to bring our research study to life in a digitally
animated format. We felt that because the Primi Piatti work environment consists of an
active, energetic, and lively atmosphere, we would capture the spirit of Urban Energy
most effectively through a combination of fast-moving visuals, up-beat music, in store
footage and engaging interviews.
The focus of our research is to show the impact of employee belief in the brand on Internal
Service Quality, with specific reference to Primi Piatti waiters - a crucial component in the
businesses success. For this reason, the practical execution provides a visual and auditory
explanation of our topic. The concept of Urban Energy (the brand s promise) is brought to
life. Furthermore, the impact of employee belief in the brand on internal service quality is
The visual identity of the animation is consistent with the branding used by Primi Piatti
throughout their portfolio, allowing the viewer to connect with the brand and relate it to any
experience they have previously encountered. The visuals effectively reinforce the theme
of Urban Energy, together with the various systems and models that are used both in the
operation of the business and those applied in our study.
Through this format of documentation, we wish to achieve a means of communicating our
findings in the most engaging, entertaining and informative way possible, with the intention
of the animation to stand alone and show the exact process we have gone through to
reach our results, without having to refer to the document.
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Journals and Articles
Bridle, P. 2008. Paul Bridle s Thoughts on Leadership: Work is Love Made Visible.
Coyler E. 2003. Promoting Brand Allegiance Within. Brandchannel.
Enslin, C. 2007. The Company, the Brand, and the Contact Council
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