What about Toppers Pizza makes it unique within its industry?
Toppers Pizza is special from a consumer standpoint because of our menu of uncommon, toppings-driven pizzas, our service, our late night hours and the fact that we make everything from scratch. We deliver great food from passionate people. Also, our customers know and appreciate our company culture. We’ve been labeled a “culture-driven concept.”
Toppers Pizza is a company that is full of people that care. From the franchisees that are passionate about what they’re doing to the team members that care about our values and how we do things to our drivers running to the door with smiles on their faces and the way that we execute on the promise to our customers -- everything we do comes from the heart. It’s easy to beat the cardboard, cookie cutter pizza chains that most of the world is ordering from when you’ve got a group of 2,000 people who really give a shit about making awesome food.
What have been some of the brand's most important milestones over the past five years?
Our online ordering platform is one of the top five in the industry and one of the best out of all restaurants in the U.S. It’s easier to order on Toppers.com than it is to order at almost any chain restaurant.
We’ve also added three really strong multi-unit franchise groups that are developing our brand in three different areas of the country: Kris and Sally Milligan in Kansas, Clayton Hartman and Todd Geatches in Colorado and Wyoming, and Mike and Helen McLaughlin in Virginia and Maryland. With these three new groups leading the charge for growth, I anticipate that we’ll open our 200th location by 2022.
We also introduced Straight Up Pricing, a new systemwide program that allows our customers to customize their pizza with as many toppings as they want for the same price. We don’t nickel and dime our customers -- we want them to get exactly what they want without breaking the bank.
What plans does the brand have in the coming years?
We are in the process of rolling out a new POS platform called Pizmet, which will allow us to interface with customers on an individual level. It will be a monumental change for our brand.
We’re also working hard in the kitchen on some fun, innovative menu ideas. We’re developing new side items in addition to more options for toppings and pizzas, drizzles and other interesting menu categories that fit our brand and allow us to continue pushing the envelope with our food.
Toppers is also executing on our franchise development strategies. In 2018, we’re projected to open a record 20 new restaurants, including our milestone 100th store.
What does an ideal franchisee look like?
The people who are the best fit for us are the people who are looking to work hard and are looking for something that’s more than just an investment. We attract franchisees who are looking for a fun business to actively operate and grow. One of the ways that we compete in the industry is that we are active, we are driven and we fight. The people that are a fit for us are those that are already wired that way.
Over the years, we’ve done deals with people that just wanted to invest in a great business opportunity. But we’ve realized these people ultimately aren’t the right match for us. We want people who want to be in their restaurants every day. We like people who are a little cocky and competitive -- it’s part and parcel of being active and passionate in the business.
We’re really seeking franchisees that have been in the restaurant business previously and are looking for a multi-unit development opportunity. We’ll do single store deals in areas where we already have a presence but we’ve had success with franchisees who were part of a culture driven pizza brand in the past and now feel like the culture has gone away and want to return to the old days. That nostalgia aspect has brought us some great franchise owners. Toppers has allowed them to get back to what they know works.
Why is Toppers Pizza a good investment?
The brand works. From an investment standpoint, that’s what you want to be confident in. There are no guarantees, but it’s a proven concept - if you’re the right fit, you can make this a great lifestyle and build something special for your family and for your future. When people make it to our Discovery Day, there’s a good chance that they’re a fit with a high likelihood for success in our system. Toppers Pizza isn’t a match for everyone, and that’s okay. We’re focused on growing our brand with the right people.