The benefits of running a pizza delivery franchise

There is serious money to be made in this booming sector – as long as you don’t mind the unsocial hours.

One in two people in the UK eat pizza at least once a week and we Britons spend a whopping £2.9 billion on this fast food every year.

One in six pizzas bought is delivered, while in 2014 over half of pizza orders were placed online. In the same year the UK pizza delivery market was valued at £1.1 million

Our appetite for pizza doesn’t quite match that of Americans, with 350 slices of pizza being eaten every second in the US. But there are strong signs that UK consumption is heading in the same direction.

Promising convenience and value the pizza delivery and takeaway industries have seen rapid expansion in the past five years.

Although spending on takeaway pizzas fell overall during the recession, Domino’s reported year-on-year sales growth of 8.4% at the peak of the downturn.

Pizza delivery outlets generally operate either as an independent business or under a franchise brand such as Pizza Hut, Papa John’s or Domino’s. Driven by a proven business model, enormous marketing clout and brand recognition the franchise segment is expanding particularly fast.

The ultimate fast food 

Not only is pizza a quick and easy meal when you’re hungry and need a fast fix, it’s also remarkably simple and cheap to produce.

In under two minutes, an experienced pizza chef can rustle up the raw pizza dough complete with any topping chosen from the menu (pepperoni being the most frequently requested).

Just eight minutes later, the tasty, aromatic baked pizza emerges from the oven – completing a preparation cycle which takes less than 10 minutes overall. This simple process lends itself well to batch production, making bulk pizza preparation highly cost-effective. 

Themes and variations 

For some customers, a pizza’s simple ingredients are a big part of the appeal, while others like to experiment with a variety of alternative flavours.

Simple yet versatile, the pizza can be embellished with a plethora of toppings including some highly exotic combinations.

Brands like Pizza Hut and Papa John’s regularly introduce new menu options and a number of refinements to the basic concept, such as super-thin bread bases or extravagant stuffed-crust fillings. Papa John’s latest menu enhancements include ‘Buffalo Chicken’ and ‘Tuna Deluxe’, with a side menu offering garlic tomato sticks. 

Alan Mason, property and franchising director at Papa John’s, explains the importance his company attaches to culinary innovation: “We have a research and development director and get 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.”

The franchise experience

Supplying a fast-food favourite is a big advantage, but what does running a pizza-delivery franchise actually entail?

One inescapable fact of any fast-food franchise is the unsocial hours, as Alan Mason acknowledges. 

“Obviously Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday are the busiest nights of the week, so you’ve got to be willing to work weekends. Our key hours are between 4pm and 9pm [so] it’s a seven-day week business, not a Monday to Friday, nine-to-five job.”

Though a food-trade background is clearly an asset in terms of understanding the sector, Mason says that Papa John’s believes it’s not essential for success in the fast-food business: “What we tell people is that it’s sometimes 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 they can learn the business and operate it without prior experience.”

In fact, as Mason adds, outsiders can bring benefits of their own: “You could just have experience operating any other business or have been involved in business at various levels – then you bring a different outlook.”

Potential rewards 

James Swift, a 27-year old Domino's franchisee, co-owns five shops and is now living in a five-bedroom house, driving a brand-new Ferrari and enjoying luxury foreign holidays.

“I took a job at Domino's when I started college to earn a bit of extra money, did the training and within two years had become 'manager of the year',” he recounts. “I saved up some money, took out a loan for £30,000 and bought into a franchise. I'm planning to retire at 30.

“That's not bad for someone who dropped out of education at 16 and took a job riding a scooter.”

Domino's, Pizza Hut and Papa John’s are the UK’s key players in a takeaway-pizza market worth around £360 million a year. Confidence is high in the sector with Domino's aiming to bring another 50 UK outlets on stream this year. So if you have strong business acumen and don’t mind hard work or unsocial hours, a pizza delivery franchise could be your passport to the good life.

Melanie Luff

About the author

Mel wrote for all titles in the Dynamis stable including, and as well as other global industry publications.