By taking the opinions of its Team Members to heart, Toppers Pizza has created a company culture that works.
Over the years, as Toppers Pizza has steadily expanded from its headquarters in Whitewater, Wisconsin, to its current 70-plus locations in 12 states, it quickly became known for its irreverent brand voice, fun company culture and dedication to being one of the best delivery pizza chains out there.
But the larger and more sophisticated Toppers gets—which increasingly attracts multi-unit franchise investors looking to expand—the more important it is to Scott Gittrich, Toppers’ founder and president, to never lose sight of that unique culture and passion that has long made the brand so great. Doing so starts with valuing the opinions of every single Team Member and franchisee that makes up Toppers’ strong system.He noted that the corporate team constantly strives to communicate with franchisees as well as managers and Team Members at the unit level, soliciting feedback and, more importantly, ideas for serving customers better. To do so, Gittrich often holds town-hall-style meetings with several locations.
“We love asking our Team Members how to serve the customer better and where we fit in the market, because they have a true and accurate angle on the customers,” he said.
Gittrich added that when a service idea suggested by a team member gets implemented, it usually has benefits as far-reaching for the Team Members as they do for the guests.It also made a big difference in that delivery driver’s life, strengthening his sense of purpose in an organization that, while still growing rapidly, took the time to listen to his suggestion.
“He told me working at Toppers has changed his life— relieving a lot of his stress and changing how he thinks about all the choices he makes,” Gittrich said. “He always thought a job was where you go to make money and where you can’t possibly have fun. But from day one, he has worked with people intent to have fun and laugh at work.”
It is not uncommon for Gittrich to hear of Team Members moving up to a general manager at a new store and bringing handfuls of teammates with them, which shows him that Toppers’ efforts to hire the right people with the right attitude and to foster a real rapport with one another is working.
“What makes Toppers a special place to us and the connection we have to one another special is the belief we have in what we’re doing,” Gittrich said. “We think we have an important place in the world. Some might look at us and see a crappy job, just delivering pizzas, but we’re the people bringing the pizza to your party; we’re the ones bringing fun to your office. We’re not curing Ebola, but there is a place in the world for us to bring all the fun. We take that seriously.”
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