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Two Toppers Pizza’s Executives On Why Pizza Delivery Remains The Best Bet in Franchising

While most segments have been struggling to stay afloat, pizza delivery has been thriving. Execs from Toppers Pizza discuss why their franchise is particularly well-positioned for success during COVID-19.

While every segment of the franchise industry has been affected by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, not all businesses are being impacted in the same way. But whether business is going great or times are tough, franchisors need to be implementing new strategies to make sure that franchisees, team members and customers are supported during this time. 

1851 Franchise publisher Nick Powills and Charles Internicola spoke with Toppers Pizza* President and Founder Scott Gittrich and Director of Advertising & Media Colleen Glendinning, who is also a franchisee, about how the delivery pizza brand has been navigating the crisis.

Here are some of the key insights from their discussion.

A Well-Positioned Brand

Many QSR and pizza delivery brands like Toppers Pizza have found themselves well-positioned to appeal to a post-COVID-19 consumer landscape thanks to their delivery-centric model. Demand for delivery and all-around convenience has been growing for at least a decade, but that demand has exploded since March.

More than ever, brands need to focus on their core products and foundational value proposition. Once that infrastructure is in place, businesses can adapt to anything. For well-positioned brands, long-term plans may be about striking a balance between doing what they do best and implementing new practices. 

There will likely be many decisions that brands will be thankful they made years ago. For example, Toppers Pizza has invested heavily in technology, which has paid off significantly in the past several weeks. In terms of tech, the number of channels that customers will use to connect to brands is going to continue to grow as online ordering becomes the norm.

The Customer is in Charge Now

It doesn’t matter what the brand wants, it matters what the consumer wants. For example, hospitality means something different now. Customers don’t want human contact — they want a streamlined, frictionless experience. Many consumers prefer anonymity when they connect with businesses, and franchise brands need to be ready to provide that.

Consumer experience and expectations are different in the restaurant than they are at home, but pricing is not typically adjusted accordingly. Moving forward, consumers may be hesitant to spend dine-in prices if they are going to be ordering from a third-party app and eating at their house. Therefore, the value of direct, first-party delivery may become stronger than ever before, and brands may need to shift their operations to appeal to this demand. 

In addition to prioritizing direct delivery, it is important to take sanitation and health precautions seriously and communicate these measures clearly to customers. Communities are looking to brands to provide a sense of normalcy and convenience during this difficult time.

Even brands that are well-positioned may need to shift their focus to appeal to altered consumer behavior. As a late-night pizza place, Toppers was worried that people would order less since bars are closed. Sales didn’t decrease, but they did shift towards the lunch and dinner crowd. Brands need to be conscious of what consumers want and double down on what is working.

Stronger Teams

Across all businesses, teams are stronger than ever as they come together to make it through a trying time. Being with a great team during a crisis can also make people value their coworkers more. 

Franchisors need to understand what franchisees are going through when it comes to daily operations in order to offer valuable support and keep everyone ahead of the curve. Franchisees appreciate being on a team that knows where the brand is going in the future. In addition to short-term support, creating long-term goals and strategic plans is crucial. 

Disruption often equals opportunity — brands just need to have their eyes open so they are ready to take advantage of it. From a franchise development standpoint, franchisors are being more bullish now that there are less restaurants and more qualified candidates. Now that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, plans are starting to shift away from how businesses can survive and towards how they can take advantage of new opportunities.

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.