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Is a Red Brick Pizza Franchise a Good Investment?

by Franchise Chatter on April 16, 2011

in Franchise Reviews, Pizza Franchises

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I’m intrigued by the pizza business because it seems to offer the perfect combination of low overhead and high profit margins.  On the negative side, there are very low barriers to entry and competition is stiff.  I’ve often wondered if it would be  more profitable to invest in a well-known pizza franchise or simply open an independent mom-and-pop operation, and save on the franchise fee and royalties.

I did some quick research on Google to find out which pizza franchises had the most searches.  The Red Brick Pizza franchise stood out to me because they received a lot of search queries and I’d never even heard of them before.   I decided to investigate this franchise opportunity further and I’ve found them to be a viable alternative to the big boys (namely, Pizza Hut, Domino’s and Papa John’s).

The Positives:

1.  Higher Quality, Gourmet Style Pizza – Red Brick Pizza differentiates itself from the competition by offering a more upscale product.  Their gourmet pizzas are fire-roasted for 3 minutes in a brick oven at 1000 degrees  to achieve a crisp, brown crust.  They also offer salads, fire-roasted sandwiches, and gelato.  Red Brick seeks to elevate the humble pizza to something more gourmet with the use of fresh ingredients and a unique baking process.

2. Low Initial Investment and Franchise Fee – The franchise fee for one store is $25,000 and the initial investment, inclusive of franchise fee and first month’s working capital, is only $271,500.  This is for the typical 1,600 sq. ft. restaurant.  The initial investment can be as low as $178,000 for a modular co-branded franchise location.  And the initial investment can be as high as $511,000 under certain exceptional circumstances.

3.  Lots of Room to Grow – According to Entrepreneur Magazine, Red Brick Pizza had 59 US franchises in 2010.  This is in sharp contrast to Pizza Hut’s 6,917 US franchises and Papa John’s 2,229 US franchises during the same period.

4. High  Consumer Interest in the Brand – The fact that they received over 100,000 Google searches in one month, despite having just 59 US franchises, indicates to me that there is a disproportionate interest in the brand.  And as more locations open, I expect consumer interest to grow exponentially.

The Negatives:

1.  Number of  Locations Decreased in 2009 and 2010 –  According to Entrepreneur Magazine, Red Brick Pizza had 59 US franchises in 2010, 68 in 2009, 74 in 2008, and 53 in 2007.  This tells me that the chain was hurt during the Great Recession.  As the economy improves, it bears watching if their store numbers also increase.

2.  Corporate Website Not Updated Since 2009 – The lack of attention paid to the corporate website suggests to me that the franchise organization needs to improve the way it markets itself.  On the positive side, they do have current and active Facebook and Twitter accounts, which suggests that they are embracing social media marketing.

According to Entrepreneur Magazine, the franchisor has only 20 employees.  Therefore, it’s no big surprise that not enough attention is being paid to updating their website.

On the whole, I think the Red Brick Pizza franchise shows a lot of potential.  What I like most is the uniqueness of the product and its seeming popularity among consumers.  If they are able to find the right franchisees to help them grow, I expect the number of Red Brick Pizza fans to increase dramatically.

Click here to read my review of Toppers Pizza

Click here to read my review of the 4 Top Pizza Franchises as rated by Entrepreneur Magazine

What do you like and don’t like about the Red Brick Pizza franchise opportunity?  Are you a current franchisee of Red Brick Pizza?  What are your thoughts? Do you work for the Red Brick Pizza franchise organization?  Do you want to add anything to the conversation?

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