Toppers Pizza

The Pizza Thief

Toppers Pizza isn’t shy about one of its biggest ambitions: taking market share from the national chains. That’s why the brand launched a television campaign designed to appeal to the 18–34-year-old Millennial demographic and steal the spotlight from its biggest competitors.

The “Taste Test” commercials feature customers putting a Toppers pizza through several situations—a slip-and-slide and an angry girlfriend, for example—and determining, “Yep, still delicious.”

The Art of the LTO

Offer a Big Mac or a Quarter Pounder to casual McDonald’s customers, and they might shrug. But offer a Shamrock Shake or a McRib, and there’s a good chance they’ll salivate. These menu options have become hugely successful at the fast-food giant, despite being offered for only a few weeks out of every year.

So why doesn’t McDonald’s add them to the permanent menu? Largely because quick serves have discovered that a good limited-time offer can boost brand excitement and even single-handedly drive sales.

Clustered Growth Strategy Boosts Toppers' Social Media

By clustering store openings, Toppers Pizza has found a strategic growth strategy that simultaneously protects brand awareness and boosts social media fans.

The multiunit growth strategy brings in a seasoned business partner who is dedicated to building at least five to six stores.

“It gets somebody on board who is interested and capable of opening and operating the stores,” says Mark Cairns, the director of franchise development at Toppers. “When we can put them together and cluster, we’re able to be closer to the community and closer to our customers.”

Is Franchising Right for You?

As the economy slowly strengthens, founders of successful eateries may be considering franchising as a growth model, but experts say CEOs must approach it with caution and do their due diligence to make sure it’s appropriate for their brand.

The first step, experts say, is to explore the viability of their brand on a bigger scale.

Why it Pays to be Big Man on Campus

Paul Wilke and his wife, Sue, have transformed their Toppers Pizza franchise unit in Mankato, Minnesota, into a must-have meal for Millennials. The couple has built and maintained a relationship with Minnesota State University (MSU), which has almost single-handedly driven their business since the store opened in 2007.

Having beat out larger brands like Papa John’s and Domino’s for the MSU partnership, the Wilkes’ Toppers unit thrives on campus activities, from involvement in athletic events to student-organized fundraisers.

Franchisee: Military Vets a Wise Partner for Franchisors

With Memorial Day around the corner and the nation’s attention turned to the men and women who have served the country, one franchisee says military veterans like himself should be top of mind for franchisors as potential franchisees.

Derek Henze, a Minneapolis-based Toppers Pizza franchisee who served in Iraq, says his eight years of experience in the military helped him develop the business sense necessary to own a franchise.

Toppers Lays Out Plans for Accelerated Growth

Toppers Pizza announced that, as a means to accelerate growth, the company will start focusing on employing multiunit franchisees with diverse portfolios instead of single-unit operators.

The 28-unit, Whitewater, Wisconsin–based brand is aiming to have 100 units open and operating by 2013, says director of marketing Scott Iversen.

“We think it’s a nice, attractive investment option for that experienced restaurateur that operates different concepts,” Iversen says. “It’s easy for them to plug into and it’s something that is scalable that works.”

Battling Back Against Winter

Quick serves find ways to fight off the winter blues as signs of spring approach.

Since mid-December, seven major snow storms have hit states all over the U.S., from the Northeast to the West Coast and everywhere in between.

This bleak weather “has literally dimmed the bulb on the restaurant business pretty much across the board,” says David Crane, CEO of BlueSky Local, a slow sales response solution for restaurants.

BlueSky’s research finds that almost 75 percent of surveyed restaurant owners report that changes in weather result in at least a 10 percent sales decrease.

Who Needs a $3M TV Spot When You Have Social Media?

While some companies will be shelling out as much as $3 million for a 30-second TV spot during Sunday’s Super Bowl, some quick-serve chains plan to ramp up their marketing efforts without even hardly opening their wallets.

Toppers Pizza and Philly Pretzel Factory are two concepts that will leverage social media for their marketing efforts on Super Bowl Sunday, a day for which advertising was once reserved only for billion-dollar brands.

The Renovation Rush

Four years ago, the winds of change moved Scott Gittrich, an experience that the Toppers Pizza CEO is appreciative for these days as his Wisconsin-based pizza chain pushes into a new decade with promise and purpose.

While working with an advertising agency, Gittrich and his Toppers leadership team noted their success with teens and twentysomethings, a revelation that sparked a multiyear plan to renovate existing restaurants and build new outlets with a more casual, youthful edge.

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