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.”

Iversen says multiunit franchisees with restaurant experience will require less resources and training from the franchisor—single-unit operators often have to be taught the ropes, he says—and they bring “a lot to the table in terms of helping us grow our system.”

“Let’s say it’s a Qdoba franchisee who has tapped out the growth potential of his market but is still looking to grow his company, and is looking for that next brand to supplement, within a similar vein,” Iversen says.

“Ideally we’re looking for experienced restaurant franchisees because they have knowledge in restaurants systems, [and] they usually have management people who could potentially cross into our concept already within their portfolio.”

To assist with growth, Toppers also recently hired two new executives: Brett Larrabee, former director of New York City operations with Five Guys, and Curtis White, former west regional director of construction with Quiznos.

Iversen says Toppers leadership, including founder and CEO Scott Gittrich, wanted to ensure the brand had a solid footing before it initiated any kind of major growth. Recent unit numbers, he says, have given the company the green light; average unit volume for Toppers is $967,776, and average unit net profit is $186,250, according to the company.

While the brand is shooting for the 100-unit mark by 2013, the ultimate goal is to have 500 stores open by 2020, Iversen says. As a part of this, he says, Toppers will open in new markets, including in some outside of the brand’s Midwest home base.

“What we’re hoping to do is build out the [designated market areas] very, very quickly, so that we can generate increased brand awareness and really jumpstart the brand in those new markets,” Iversen says.

By Sam Oches

Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, Employee Management, Fast Casual, Growth, News, Pizza, Restaurant Operations, Toppers Pizza