Wisconsin-based Pizza Franchise Founder & President Discusses Investments to Continues Growth and Success
Waving a flag of “Never Settle”, Toppers Pizza has continued to emerge in the pizza industry as a refreshing alternative to the corporate pizza chains. The first half of 2017 was no exception as the Wisconsin-based franchise continued to build on that momentum, made even more impressive due to the fact that the overall restaurant industry has been in a slump for the last two years.
“We’re beating the industry,” Toppers Pizza founder and president Scott Gittrich said. “The industry is a little challenged right now and our comp sales and orders are beating the industry. We feel good there. Our online platform is performing extremely well and we’re very excited there – we feel that’s a driver in outperforming the industry.”
That performance is now playing out in more states and cities than ever before. In the first six months of 2017, Toppers Pizza opened seven new restaurants, including the first in the states of Colorado and Wyoming, with a plan of opening 16-18 new spots by the end of the year. The company also signed four new deals with franchisees to open locations in the future.
Toppers continued their commitment to growing alongside franchisees as well, signing deals to open new corporate-owned locations in Ohio and in Indiana. Those should open in 2018. Gittrich said the company plans to follow up with 4-5 additional stores in those two states in 2018, and 5-7 more in 2019.
This commitment to growth from the franchisor has gone hand-in-hand with existing franchisees in the system who are signing deals to expand their footprint with additional units.
“Several of our existing franchisees are making deals with us to reinvest in the brand. There’s nothing like people their money where their mouth is. There is success in people that are continuing to pour money into the brand,” said Gittrich. “I pour everything I make back into Toppers.”
Additionally, the company unveiled a new restaurant prototype that costs less to build, leading to an improvement in the return on investment for franchisees. Heading into the year, the corporate team at Toppers Pizza heavily focused on operations, adopting some new procedures that have already resulted in higher ratings in the areas of quality product, service and cleanliness of stores. The company, which was founded on offering unique and interesting toppings and menu options you couldn’t find at competitors, is reinvesting in that philosophy and doubling down on R&D strategy to implement in the remainder of the year and beyond.
“We’re undertaking some very fun innovation to give customers more and more of what we think they want. We are developing some incredible side items and some innovative pizzas, toppings, and drizzles. We want to continue pushing the envelope on innovation in pizzas.” Gittrich said.
It’s that creativity and consistently finding ways to improve and enhance the business that keeps the founder and president motivated every morning.
“I recently had someone tell me, ‘I can’t believe you still come to work every day after 25 years,’ and I find that ridiculous. There are so many people that still go to work every day. We’re just getting going. If I was still just doing the same exact job I was doing 25 years ago, I may have beat my head into a wall. We are around 80 restaurants and will finish right around 90 and on the way to 100. We’re going to have 200 stores in a short number of years. I’ve invested a lot of time, money, and energy to get good enough and smart enough to now really do something fun.”