From the pages of Restaurant Franchising
Number-one “Take ‘N’ Bake” bucks national trends in pizza

Papa Murphy’s franchise

As the usual suspects in the pizza delivery market duke it out with low-margin deals, the leader in take-and-bake pizza continues to enjoy record profits due to the uniqueness of its position in the marketplace.

Papa Murphy’s dominates the “Take ‘N’ Bake” niche it pioneered nearly 30 years ago. Located in 34 states and Canada, Papa Murphy’s is the fifth largest overall pizza chain in the U.S. with more than 1,150 franchisee-owned stores.

Though customers pay less for a Papa Murphy’s pizza than they do at other chains, franchisees in turn pay much less in overhead costs—equating to larger overall profits. No freezers, no ovens, and no seating mean less cost and better returns for the franchisee.

In other words: The customer supplies the oven, transportation, and table.

“We have one of the lowest investment levels of any of the pizza chains around,” says Jim Werling, Papa Murphy’s director of franchise sales. That’s a welcome fact given the difficulty for new business owners to secure financing in the current economic climate. “We’re positioned very, very well for someone who wants to become a franchisee.”

New to the Take ‘N’ Bake notion? Papa Murphy enjoys a hard-to-beat “hand made–home baked” value proposition: All of its ingredients are fresh (remember: no freezers!) with vegetables sliced and diced daily. The dough is mixed fresh each day as well. Customers know that fresher means tastier.

Convenience comes in the fact that the customer decides when to serve the pizza hot to their family or guests. Says Werling, “We like to say to the customer, ‘You control the occasion.’”

The perfect equation of product and position resulted in a record sales year in 2009 while the rest of the pizza industry saw an estimated 7 percent decline in sales that year. Papa Murphy’s U.S. sales in 2009 grew to $630 million, up more than 7 percent from 2008.

Operational support for franchisees includes assistance with food and labor cost controls, sales tracking, menu mix and ideal food cost tracking, regular newsletters, and up-to-date operations manuals.

Superior marketing support includes creative advertising materials, a comprehensive grand-opening plan, and advertising media placement.

Site location support includes helping the franchisee find the best location, while there is construction support that helps the franchisee turn that location into an amazing store.

The initial franchise fee ranges from $15,000 to $25,000. Total costs for a store, including construction, range from $171,655 to $353,225.

Consequently, more than 130 franchising agreements were signed in 2009, including some major new markets in the Southeast.

The fast growth has not deterred customer satisfaction. In 2009, Franchise Business Review published its customer survey results that ranked Papa Murphy’s as one of the top food franchises for the year. And for the seventh consecutive year, Papa Murphy’s was named “Best Pizza Chain in America” in Restaurants & Institutions’ “Consumers’ Choice in Chains” survey. Meanwhile, Inc. Magazine named Papa Murphy’s a “Top 100 Food and Beverage Company.”

For more information about franchising opportunities with Papa Murphy’s, visit