Franchise Spotlight: Papa John's Pizza Franchise

Large, experienced but far from ubiquitous, the Papa John's pizza franchise has plenty of territories available.

Large, experienced but far from ubiquitous, the Papa John's pizza franchise has plenty of territories available.

Its rapid growth suggests that everyone north of Watford will be familiar with Alfresco, Carnavale and Hot Pepper Passion pizzas sooner rather than later.

The company's UK franchising director, Alan Mason, tells the FranchiseSalesBlog how stringent quality control and continual product development are behind Papa John's success.

FranchiseSalesBlog: What distinguishes the Papa John's pizza franchise from rival pizza chains?

Alan Mason: The quality of its product - it's 100% fresh dough - and the franchise opportunity.

Unlike Dominos, we only have 120 stores across the UK and Ireland. There's a lot of opportunity for people to grow with us as a brand.

Which regions are you expanding into?

We're underrepresented in the East Midlands, West Midlands, North West - Liverpool, Manchester - South West, Wales, Scotland...

We have existing businesses for people to buy as well, about 10 to 12 a year. Many existing franchisees buy existing franchise stores next door to them.

So how fast is the Papa John's pizza franchise growing?

We're probably sleeping giants in this country.

We've opened 16 stores so far this year. We're opening an additional eight to nine by year end.

The aim is to have 350 stores by 2016. So we're looking to treble our store count in eight years.

What do you look for in a franchisee?

Not necessarily someone with food-service experience. It helps, because you understand the business, but you could just have experience operating any other business or have been involved in business at various levels - then you bring a different outlook to it.

It's good to have someone in your setup with experience in the fast-food industry. However, we offer a comprehensive, three-week training programme and ongoing training, so you can learn the business and operate it without prior experience.

I think most of all you've got to be enthusiastic, personable. It's a people business, not only with your staff but also with customers.

It's a seven-day week business, not a Monday to Friday, nine-to-five job. Our key hours are between 4pm and 9pm and you've got to be willing to work weekends.

How do you ensure the franchisees provide a consistently high quality product and service?

We have a set of core brand standards.

We regularly check stores for service, cleanliness and the quality of the product.

We score the stores, setting a minimum 75% pass rate. If they fail they have to ‘re-sit'.

Do you change the menu often enough to keep customers interested?

We have a research and development director and we have a lot of input from our franchisees, our franchise advisory council and our national marketing advisory council.

We are constantly innovating and developing new pizzas.