The franchise industry can cause sleepless nights for executives focused on success and growth. However, for Wisconsin-based Toppers Pizza, sleep comes easier after more than a quarter century of refining and improving on a proven model. As we enter the final months of 2017, the company is on pace to have their strongest year ever, with 17 new locations expected to open before year’s end. That’s coming at the same time as the better pizza brand is entering three new states, with deals in place to significantly increase their presence in the years ahead.
But at the core of the confidence among the executive team is the group of people who make up the brand.
“Our system is made up of engaged franchisees who share the Toppers Pizza core values,” said Scott Gittrich, founder and president of Toppers Pizza. “These are not absentee franchisees who are doing their jobs and crossing their fingers that Toppers Pizza is a good investment. These are people who are engaged in Toppers Pizza on a day-to-day basis managing their own brand and business.”
Beyond the people operating Toppers locations across the U.S., Gittrich additionally bases his confidence in the model on three main things:
According to Gittrich, “What we do is relatively simple, how we go to market is relatively simple. It's a concept that's easy to execute.”
Mark Cairns, who serves as Director of Franchise Development for Toppers, is usually the first contact new franchisees have with the company. He said the simplicity of the brand comes from the fact that Toppers maintains a sizeable share of corporate-owned locations for direct experience to ensure the model is operating effectively.
“We operate 21 stores that are corporate owned. We have skin in the game. So, we know the things that franchisees need to do to be successful,” he added.
“We have built incredible training systems,” said Gittrich. “Our Director of Training is second to none in the resources he provides to franchisees. Our online training site and the great teams of people we invest in training franchisees are great.”
David Biederman, Chief Development Officer for Toppers Pizza, echoed this sentiment.
“The level of support we offer at Toppers Pizza gives me confidence in our system,” said Biderman. “I feel like the corporate team at Toppers has our franchisees' backs in a very significant way. We are all working together toward the same end. We face all challenges head-on and together.”
“Our field teams are rigorous and hands-on. They're in every store more than eight times a year working with franchisees and assuring that brand standards and training are in place to meet our high standards,” said Gittrich.
Cairns noted that his restful nights of sleep are also fueled by his belief in the review process in place.
“It's hard work,” Cairns said. “We have people on our operations and training team who are committed to the individual success of each franchisee. We're in our stores every 45 days to do a TPR (Toppers Performance Review). We have a variety of ranks and we grade these stores on everything from food quality, cleanliness, staffing, uniforms, and more. It's steel on steel to make everyone better.”
But at the end of the day, when he heads off to bed, Gittrich’s belief in the people throughout the Toppers system are what really allows him to get quality shuteye.
“I'm confident in the Toppers system that it's set up to succeed in the hands of good franchisees. I wouldn't be confident in the franchisees if I wasn't confident in the model and the brand. I'm confident in these people who are ‘all in’ on Toppers,” he said.