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FDD Talk 2015: The Toppers Pizza Franchise Opportunity (Financial Performance Analysis, Estimated Costs, and Other Important Stuff You Need to Know)

by Franchise Chatter on August 24, 2015

in FDD Talk 2017: Food Franchises, Franchise Earnings, Pizza Franchises



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Toppers Pizza Franchise Exterior Photo

In this FDD Talk 2015 post, you’ll learn the following:

  • Section I – Background information on the Toppers Pizza franchise opportunity, including relevant news updates
  • Section II – Estimated initial investment for a Toppers Pizza franchise, based on Item 7 of the company’s 2015 FDD
  • Section III – Presentation and analysis of Toppers Pizzas’ financial performance representations, based on Item 19 of the company’s 2015 FDD, including information on the:
  • 2014 average gross sales, cost of goods sold, gross profits, operating expenses, and net income for the 13 affiliate-owned Toppers Pizza restaurants that were open for a minimum of two full fiscal years
  • 2014 average gross sales for all Toppers Pizza restaurants (both affiliate-owned and franchised) that were open for the entire fiscal year and generated annual gross sales of $500,000 to $749,999; $750,000 to $899,999; and $900,000 and above, respectively
  • 2014 average gross sales for franchised Toppers Pizza restaurants that were open for the entire fiscal year and generated annual gross sales of $500,000 to $749,999; $750,000 to $899,999; and $900,000 and above, respectively
  • 2014 average gross sales for affiliate-owned Toppers Pizza restaurants that were open for the entire fiscal year and generated annual gross sales of $500,000 to $749,999; $750,000 to $899,999; and $900,000 and above, respectively

Section I – Background Information

Toppers Pizza Projects 200 Locations in 20 States by 2020

Toppers Pizza may not be among the biggest pizza chains, but that doesn’t stop the company from focusing on continued expansion.

Scott Gittrich, Toppers’ president and founder, plans to take the chain from 75 restaurants to more than 200 in more than 20 states by 2020. Gittrich projects six to eight franchise deals yearly.

“Restaurants are outperforming the economy, pizza is outperforming restaurants and we’re outperforming pizza,” Gittrich told the Milwaukee Business Journal in June 2015.



Most of the Toppers Pizza restaurants are in the Midwest, but the company has plans to expand to other markets and grow its footprint.

From Domino’s to Different

Gittrich previously worked with Domino’s, where he started delivering pizza in 1984 while attending the University of Illinois. He moved up in the ranks, ending up as director of operations for a group of Domino’s franchises, but left in 1991 because he wanted to offer more interesting choices than the national chains.

He opened his own pizza restaurant that same year in Champaign, Illinois, and started experimenting with different flavors and ingredients, a process that continues to drive new menu items. The chain is now headquartered in Whitewater, Wisconsin.

Chain is Highlighted by Topperstix, Specialty Pizzas

Toppers is known for its specialty pizzas with unusual toppings, such as Tater Tots, macaroni and cheese, French-fried onions and oven-roasted tomatoes. The Brat Topper pizza starts with a ketchup sauce and features Johnsonville brats, onions, pickles and mozzarella cheese, topped with drizzled brown mustard.

The popular Topperstix — perforated, cheese-topped breadstick slabs — were introduced early in Toppers’ history and have remained a sought-after savory treat. The first batch of Topperstix sold within seconds of being removed from the oven.

Toppers uses fresh lean meats, makes its sauce in each location, and grates cheese, slices vegetables and makes dough daily.

Focus on Fun

Quirky messages, robust social media marketing, and fun fan contests appeal to Toppers Pizza’s primary customer base — 18- to 24-year-olds in college cities. The company also receives notoriety for providing free pizza for a year to the first 50 people to enter each new store.

Patterns of Growth

The chain, which started franchising in 2002 with a restaurant in La Crosse, Wisconsin, hit 15 locations in 2007 and 30 in 2011, the same year it signed deals with six new franchise groups and moved into five new states. Two years later, Toppers had reached 10 states, opened its 50th store and announced detailed plans for national growth.

In 2014, Toppers opened its 60th store, achieved 32 percent unit growth in one year, and marked 40 consecutive quarters of sales increases (including during the Great Recession).

The company in 2015 reached the 75-store mark in 13 states and sold out of its available markets in Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin. Fifteen new stores are expected by the end of 2015.



Top Sales Day Falls on Super Bowl Sunday

Toppers Pizza saw its largest sales day ever on Feb. 4, 2015 — Super Bowl Sunday. The chain logged more than $240,000 in systemwide sales while its locations sold 7,100 pizzas, 3,200 Topperstix and 2,100 wings.

Toppers Awards

In April 2015, Toppers Pizza was named to the Franchise Business Review’s Top 50 Multi-Unit Franchises for 2015. Toppers was placed in the Top 25 Brick & Mortar Opportunities category.

Toppers was No. 364 on Entrepreneur’s 2015 Franchise 500, up from No. 388 in 2014.

Among other awards, the chain was named to Pizza Today’s Top 50 Pizza Chains in the United States and QSR’s Best Franchise Deals lists, both in 2014.

Section II – Estimated Costs

  • Please click here for detailed estimates of Toppers Pizza franchise costs, based on Item 7 of the company’s 2015 FDD (updated).

Section III – Financial Performance Representations (Item 19, 2015 FDD) and Analysis



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