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How Wisconsin-Based Toppers Pizza Sets up Franchisees for Success Through Supportive Accountability
The chain’s emphasis on quality is unmatched through its comprehensive 45-day performance review

A leader in the booming delivery pizza segment, Toppers Pizza is fully invested in every franchisee in its system. The brand was founded on the principle of providing guests with superior service and the very best product, and upholding those two values require continuous attention and accountability. One way Toppers has refined their operational support is with the introduction of their “Toppers Performance Review”, a 45-day in-person audit of all elements of the franchisees’ operations and customer service. The company visits each of its 85 locations every six weeks on average to check in and review numerous aspects of operations, ranging from food preparation procedures and crew appearance to details like dish sanitizer pH levels. The brand then uses a designated point system to rank the importance of each item and objectively critique the restaurant.

We have people on our operations and training teams who are committed to the individual success of each franchisee. We're in our stores every 45 days to conduct our Toppers Performance Review,” says Toppers Pizza Director of National Marketing & Menu Innovation Mac Malchow. “We have a variety of ranks and we grade these stores on everything including food quality, cleanliness, staffing and uniforms.”

The TPR (as it’s known in the Toppers system) is a thorough and extensive document outlining all aspects that must be running smoothly to operate a successful store. The TPR dives deeper than a check mark if food storage and finished product aren’t up to Toppers' standards. Instead, for a category like “Dough Management” there are eight distinct areas such as temperature of dough or proper calibration of the dough scale that are all individually scored and ranked based on importance. 

Operating more than 20 locations itself, the corporate team understands the day-to-day challenges franchisees face and what it takes to thrive and stand out in the ever-growing and competitive pizza sector. Matt Martin, director of systems and training at Toppers, has been with the brand for more than 16 years and says that these 45-day audits are instrumental to upholding quality and service at each location.

“The biggest reason we moved to do Toppers Performance Reviews more frequently was to move the needle in quality, service and cleanliness in a measurable way and to ultimately take care of our customers in an improved way, and that’s exactly what the data shows we’ve done,” says Martin. “It’s no surprise that performance improves when you clearly set standards, regularly audit those standards and actively work with teams to improve in the areas where they’re falling short.”

At the heart of Toppers’ core values are high-quality ingredients and quick delivery, and upholding the two requires an attention to detail that is perfected through continual franchisee support and communication.

“The system is a lag measure of how you're performing, but for the items you get marked off on, those become a punch-list of items to correct or improve. I think that piece is important because it can sometimes be easy to let something in an area falter without even knowing it. The performance review is a regular reminder to address those faltering items before they get too bad,” says Martin.

The data gained from each performance review shows that the intensive process is improving operational consistency overall, prompting higher sales, better profitability and faster growth; top scores on the review directly correlate with the highest sales increases in the system.

With a strong operational foundation, Toppers has been immune to the growth plateau many restaurants are currently facing. In the first half of 2017, the franchise added seven new locations, expanded into new markets on the west coast and set an ambitious goal of reaching 200 units by 2020.

Find out more about franchise opportunities with Toppers Pizza at https://toppersfranchise.com/.

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