An 18-year veteran of the food and service industry, Nathan Leder knows what it takes to run a successful restaurant. When he was introduced to the Toppers Pizza concept in 2013, Leder immediately knew there was great potential for the better pizza, late-night brand to succeed in Michigan.
Leder, along with his father Arie, invested in Toppers, deciding to open the state’s first franchise in Grand Rapids. The father-son duo knew that it was going to take a tremendous amount of work to be successful, but in the spirit that so many successful Toppers Pizza franchisees share, they were ready to roll up their sleeves and give it their all—and have fun while doing it, too.
Another reason the Leder’s invested in Toppers was its potential for significant growth. With much of Michigan wide open for development for the brand, both Toppers and the Leder’s see exponential growth opportunities throughout regions like Ann Arbor, Lansing, Grand Rapids and Detroit.
“The focus on these towns in particular is due to the fact that they have a lot of late-night activity that aligns with our most successful hours of operation,” Mark Cairns, director of franchise development with Toppers said. “With Lansing, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids all having big-name colleges in town, we know that the students will be looking for late night food—so we see a captive audience to fuel our growth significantly throughout Michigan.”
Though the hours can be long at Toppers Pizza, Leder believes that is a huge reason why the brand is successfully establishing a foothold throughout the country, especially with respect to towns that house big colleges similar to the University of Michigan, Michigan State or Western Michigan University.
“When we look at our competition, we see stores closing at 9:00 p.m. or 10:00 p.m.,” Leder said. “With Toppers, our prime late night hours are 10:00 p.m. and beyond, which really gives us a competitive advantage, especially in college-based areas and apartment-dense communities.”
The growth potential for Toppers doesn’t just stop with the hours-based advantage. On top of the traditional menu items you’ll find at any pizza shop, Toppers Pizza touts the ability to create more than one million combinations to top off customers’ pizzas. These are two of the main reasons why Toppers is looking at adding more than 20 stores within the state of Michigan.
“The generation that is currently in college—Millennials—is all about having everything customized to their exact preferences,” Cairns said. “Our topping combinations and other unique menu items such as Topperstix, provide the college students with the customization they are looking for, which is why the growth charted for Toppers in these towns is very promising.”
This development throughout Michigan comes as Toppers Pizza comes off of a successful 2016 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 as it drives toward a national franchise footprint.
The brand has 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 straight year in 2017 and landing on QSR Magazine's list of the Best Franchise Deals.
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 also rolled out a new prototype to kick off 2017 which increases transparency and creates a more welcoming environment for guests, while enhancing the flexibility of the real estate footprint which can range from 1,300 to 1,700 square feet - making it easier for franchisees to locate and sign for endcaps, inline stores, or freestanding locations.