For Toppers Pizza, consistently outshining the competition comes down to one simple mission: never settle. From the quality of its ingredients to the passion found in every one if its employees and franchisees, the brand has a long history of setting the standard in the increasingly popular pizza segment. That’s why it’s no surprise that Toppers is planning to take its unique franchising opportunity to the next level in 2017.
Toppers Pizza plans to build off of the strong momentum it gained last year, where the brand experienced tremendous growth including climbing sales and three signed multi-unit development deals that will ultimately add 41 new locations to Toppers’ ever-growing network. In the first half of 2017, Toppers Pizza will surpass 80 stores and the company has a goal of building a national scale franchise system. The brand has also enjoyed recognition from top industry publications and entities such as landing on Entrepreneur Magazine's ranking of the top 500 franchises in the U.S for the third year in a row in 2017 and landing on QSR Magazine's listing of the Best Franchise Deals. Average unit net sales surpass $1 million and Toppers boasts an EBITDA of $166,205.
And in order to continue that trend of seeing consistent growth across the board, Toppers plans to sign 10 new franchise agreements in 2017 that will ultimately fuel the brand’s ongoing development efforts in key markets across the country.
“Toppers is an incredibly scalable business—the infrastructure and support systems that we’ve put in place are built for growth. That’s why we’re confident that we’ll be able to achieve our development goals this year,” said Mark Cairns, director of franchise development for Toppers Pizza. “There’s no doubt that there’s a heightened demand among consumers for pizza. But they’re not willing to settle for subpar pies and slow delivery times. That’s where Toppers comes in—we’re not like the other big guys in the industry. We’re constantly pushing the envelope and finding new ways to give our customers what they want, which in turn helps boost our franchisees’ bottom lines.”
One of the ways in which Toppers is helping its local owners bring in more customers is through a commitment to innovation, both internally and externally. For example, the brand recently unveiled its new store prototype, the Toppers Show Kitchen. It’s designed to boost engagement between Toppers’ team members and customers—the show kitchen gives guests a transparent look at the way their food is being made. And at a time when other chains are struggling to figure out how to best interact with the next generation of American consumers, Toppers’ new design proves that its innovative efforts give it a competitive edge.
“Our business is changing. Now, people are coming in and picking up their product—it’s not just delivery anymore,” said David Biederman, Toppers’ chief development officer. “Toppers has always been forward-thinking, and they recognized this trend and the need to adapt. This prototype enhances our business. It shows that we’re no longer just making pizza and sending it off with our drivers—we’re a place where customers are starting to interact with us far more. This is an opportunity to increase engagement with our brand—to really show them that we care about the quality of our product.”
By boosting customer engagement, Toppers is poised to continue its tradition of establishing relationships with incredibly loyal customers in the communities that it calls home. With 14 grand openings expected to take place this year—in addition to the agreements the brand plans to sign—Toppers is positioned to continue increasing its brand awareness. In fact, those expansion efforts are already underway. The brand recently celebrated its first openings of the year in Ballantyne, a neighborhood in North Carolina, and Longmont, Colorado.
The Ballantyne location is being spearheaded by franchisees Mike Wielechowski and Nate Fuller. And with more openings in the area already planned, it’s clear that Toppers’ unique positioning and simple business model is hard at work.
“Toppers has exceeded every one of my expectations. The brand has built a strong team made up of talented and supportive people who are invested in seeing you succeed. That’s not something that you find every day, and it’s why we’re looking forward to growing alongside Toppers in the months and years to come,” said Fuller.
Wielechowski and Fuller are just two owners who are set to open multiple units with the Toppers brand. Going forward in 2017, Toppers plans to continue working with other multi-unit franchisees who are looking to bring the brand’s better pizza to their own community. Not only does Toppers make that type of multi-unit operation simple for aspiring entrepreneurs, it also makes it affordable.
The investment in a Toppers Pizza franchise ranges between $291,666 and $527,152. Franchisees fees start at $30,000 for the first unit and decrease to $20,000 for the second and third units, $15,000 for the fourth and fifth, and only $10,000 for six and above. The brand’s new prototype to kick which increases transparency and creates a more welcoming environment for guests also enhances the flexibility of the real estate footprint which can range from 1,200 to 1,600 square feet - making it easier for franchisees to locate and sign for endcaps, inline stores or freestanding locations.
“Our top priority as a corporate team is ensuring that our franchisees have the tools and resources that they need to succeed. At the end of the day, our brand is only as good as the people behind it. And at Toppers, we’re committed to helping our team members reach their fullest potential,” said Cairns. “We’re looking forward to welcoming new franchisees into our system as we continue to break into new markets throughout 2017.”
*The financial performance set forth is for the one year (53 weeks) commencing on December 29, 2014, and ending on January 3, 2016, and is for the 9 restaurants open and continuously operated by Toppers Pizza's affiliate for a minimum of four full years. Of the 9 restaurants, 5 exceeded the average gross sales and 5 exceeded the average EBITDA, as defined in the company's Franchise Disclosure Document.