Top Players in Franchise Development: Mac Malchow
Top Players in Franchise Development: Mac Malchow

Since joining the Toppers Team as the Director of Field Marketing, Mac Malchow has watched the brand’s growth skyrocket.

The restaurant industry is in Mac Malchow’s DNA. Since he was only 15 years old, Malchow worked just about every position there is at a restaurant—from the front of the house to the back of the house.

By the time he turned 21, he took on a job as a delivery driver for Toppers Pizza in La Crosse, Wisconsin. It started as a way to earn money to pay the bills—but what he didn’t realize at the time was that that first job with Toppers would eventually transform into something much greater. Near the end of his time in college, Malchow helped out with some local store marketing for the La Crosse franchisee’s two locations. It was in that role that he discovered his love for the Toppers brand and its unique culture. That passion eventually landed him a role at the Toppers Pizza Headquarters, where he started as a field marketing coordinator for the company.

Over the next two years, he personally opened 20 new Toppers locations in cities like Chicago, Lincoln, Fort Worth and Minneapolis. He has watched the company triple in size since he first came on board five years ago, skyrocketing to 76 locations and counting. Now, as the director of field marketing, he helps train new franchisees on how to use tools and resources to plan their grand openings and how to best allocate advertising funds to get the most bang for their buck. He leads a team of three field marketing coordinators, who spend the majority of their time in the field working next to managers and team members at Toppers locations. He also works in the franchise development department, helping lead new candidates through the discovery process. And the best part about his impressive list of accolades? Malchow is one of the youngest members of the Toppers leadership team.

1851 spoke with Malchow to learn more about his work with Toppers, and what makes the brand’s development process so unique.

What makes your brand’s franchise development process tick?

Constant communication. There are a lot of great candidates coming to us each and every day, so in order to lead them efficiently through the process, each member of the development team needs to be up-to-speed on where candidates are in the process and what needs to happen to get them to the next stage.

What have been some of your brand’s major milestones?

Definitely the most recent milestones for Toppers Pizza have been the past two franchisee groups that we brought into our system. One group will be developing 13 units in Northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming, the other group will be developing 22 units in Northern Virginia and Southern Maryland. Both groups are large multi-unit operators for well-known restaurant brands and both have strong pizza delivery roots having introduced national brands like Domino’s and Papa Johns to their respective areas. The fact that both groups are coming back to their passion (on opposite sides of the country) with Toppers Pizza is a true testament to what we have going on right now.

What are you most proud of?

Working as a team to dial in on our ideal franchisee. In the last two years we shifted our attention and focus on bringing experienced restaurateurs into our system, who want to expand their brand portfolio by opening multiple Toppers Pizza restaurants. This was a huge step forward for us and it has paid big dividends in the caliber of franchisee that we’re attracting today.

What specific steps do your most successful franchisees take in order to build and grow their respective businesses? And what do you do to set them up for success?

Our most successful franchisees surround themselves with talented people. Nobody can operate a restaurant themselves, let alone multiple stores. The most successful franchisees have brought very talented people into their ranks and diligently work on developing them into great Managers and Supervisors. To assist our franchisees in attracting talent, we’ve put many programs in place. From our e-learning portal to our New Store Opening support teams, we work from day one in helping franchisees recognize that this is a people business and you need great people to succeed. Of course, it always helps that you’ve got a great product and brand in place so that people can be proud to say, “I work for Toppers Pizza!”

What are your goals for your brand in the next few years and how do you plan to grow the brand?

Lots of brands talk in terms of unit count growth, but we prefer to think in terms of attracting the right franchisees. Of course we’ve got some internal unit count goals, but our real goal is to bring on five to eight terrific franchisee groups each year for the next five-plus years. If we can do that, we will easily meet our unit count goals for the next 10 years.