Toppers Pizza has found success with their alternative pizza, and the brand charged into the second half of 2015 showing no signs of slowing. The brand closed out 2014 with average store sales reaching $914,000 and entered 2015 with a mission in mind: to support franchisees and improve operations to increase same store sales by 10 percent. If the past few months are any indication, the purveyor of outrageous toppings and dangerously addictive Topperstix has a “mission accomplished” party in its future.
During Toppers’ seventh period (June 15 to July 12) alone, company system-wide sales were up 17.2 percent. Meanwhile, for the year total, sales had risen 27.5 percent. This data is based on figures from 71 operating restaurants made up of 25 company-owned stores and 46 franchises.
Same-store system-wide sales also increased during this period, posting growth of 7.2 percent. This comes on the heels of a fantastic first quarter that saw 28 of 52 Toppers locations exceeding the brand’s ambitious 10 percent same store sales increase goal.
“If I could sum up Toppers in one word, it would be ‘momentum,’” says chief financial oficer Kendall Richmond. “Sales are up across the board and we’re digging in for the remainder of the year with a huge amount of energy to execute the plan we put in place.”
If it feels like the brand is on a hot streak, it’s because it’s following a solid playbook. Toppers kicked off 2015 by introducing the Plan to Win Pyramid – a blueprint for franchise success based on engagement, culture, operations, and marketing. Looking at the results so far, the Plan to Win is paying off big time
“The formula for Toppers’ success is simple: We serve up unique, delicious flavors in a playful way that lets our passion for pizza shine through,” says Scott Iversen, vice president of marketing at Toppers. “We’ve perfected our recipe that appeals to the highly coveted millennial generation, but also to savvy investors who like the fresh attitude that Toppers brings to the stability and consistency of the pizza industry. We’re well on our way to achieving our goal of 700 locations by 2025.”
Since Toppers founder Scott Gittrich left Dominos to “do pizza better” in 1991, the brand has continued to grow nationally with a rising number of multi-unit deals. Since the beginning of 2015, Toppers has signed two new multi-unit operators poised to expand and enhance the brand’s presence throughout Kansas, Iowa, and the Dakotas. Sioux Falls-based Nordic Venture Partners joined the Toppers family early in the year and will open six locations throughout South Dakota and Iowa over the next four years. Recently, Kansas-based Charma Inc. signed to open five new Toppers restaurants in-and-around the Kansas City area. Both franchise groups are run by multi-unit operators with decades of restaurant experience with established brands and are working hand-in-hand with the Toppers corporate team to bring the right combination of pizza passion and strategic planning to make their ventures into new markets a success.
Proud of their roots in Wisconsin, the brand launched with a focus that led to the complete selling out of their home state, and a strategic growth plan has led to sold out states in Minnesota and Nebraska. Toppers has moved on to open new locations in states like Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, Kansas, Michigan, Texas, Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio, Nebraska, Indiana, North Carolina, and Arkansas. The current focus is on entering new markets throughout the state of Illinois, while finding qualified operators to expand the brand into untapped markets across the country. The brand reached 70 units in 2015 and much of the company’s growth has come from existing franchisees choosing to open additional locations, a testament to the strength of the brand.
“We’re thrilled with how much progress we’ve made so far in 2015, but we know the best is yet to come,” Richmond says.
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