In this FDD Talk 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 2021 FDD
- Section III – Initial franchise fee, royalty fee, marketing fee, and other fees for a Toppers Pizza franchise, based on Items 5 and 6 of the company’s 2021 FDD
- Section IV – Number of franchised and company-owned Toppers Pizza outlets at the start of the year and the end of the year for 2018, 2019, and 2020, based on Item 20 of the company’s 2021 FDD
- Section V – Presentation and analysis of Toppers Pizza’s financial performance representations, based on Item 19 of the company’s 2021 FDD, including information on the:
- 2020 average, median, highest, and lowest gross sales for all Toppers Pizza restaurants (both affiliate-owned and franchised) that were open as of December 27, 2020, and that had been open and operating for at least one full fiscal year, at least two full fiscal years, at least three full fiscal years, at least four full fiscal years, and at least five full fiscal years, respectively
Section I – Background Information
24 Things You Need to Know About the Toppers Pizza Franchise
Appoints New Vice President of Marketing
1. At the end of October 2020, Toppers Pizza announced the appointment of Greg Wold as vice president of marketing. Wold is no stranger to building iconic moments for brands vying for a turn from emerging to established. The award-winning former marketing executive played a key role in defining the voice of brands like Jersey Mike’s Subs, Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches, and Intelligentsia Coffee. Now, the agency vet will be applying his expertise to taking Wisconsin-based pizza franchise Toppers Pizza on a pathway to becoming a legendary American pizza company.
2. Scott Gittrich, founder and president of Toppers Pizza, said, “I am extremely happy and proud to announce that Greg Wold has joined the Toppers team as the VP of Marketing. Greg has spent the last 20-plus years helping restaurant brands discover who they are, how to message that to the world, and then blowing them up.”
3. Wold began his business career in the music industry brokering distribution deals for independent record labels. Over the years that followed, Wold transitioned into agency land and has been a driving force behind brands consumers all know and love – most recently working with Jersey Mike’s Subs to establish its memorable “Sub Above” positioning, which helped the sandwich brand climb from 750 locations to 1,600 in just six years. Wold has also worked with Jimmy John’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Pancheros Mexican Grill within the quick-service and fast-casual segments.
4. The brand strategist also put Wisconsin Cheese back on the map during his time with Shine Advertising, guiding the beloved brand’s marketing strategy from zero percent digital to 90% digital in just two years. Now, he will take his turn at Toppers.
5. Gittrich added, “Toppers has been killing it for almost 30 years, and after seeing how we thrived during a global pandemic, we know now is the time for us to take our game up a notch. Greg is an incredibly gifted marketer and really knows how to identify a brand’s potential.”
6. Despite a pandemic-affected restaurant industry, the 65-unit pizza brand has had an impressive year, seeing record-breaking year-over-year sales of 15% and three new stores set to open by the end of 2020. “Toppers’ one-of-a-kind product puts big-chain pizza to shame and creates passionate consumers that never settle for boring pizza,” said Wold. “I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this brand.”
Sees Double-Digit Sales Growth for Fourth Consecutive Quarter as Pizza Delivery Booms
7. In late April 2021, Toppers Pizza reported that the chain was thriving during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the pandemic creates an even stronger demand in the pizza segment, Toppers is offering smart, experienced operators the opportunity to capitalize on the well-positioned concept and build something special.
8. After a year of COVID-19, the pizza segment remains one of the rare winners in the food industry. While much of the restaurant industry has struggled throughout the pandemic’s turbulent business climate, the quick-service pizza sector has actually benefited from the shift to predominantly off-premise dining. Toppers, in particular, is in a prime position to appeal to this changing consumer demand.
9. From the early days of the brand, Toppers has been committed to providing convenience to customers through advanced technology, which includes a proprietary e-commerce platform and digital POS system. Those commitments have created a strong infrastructure that allowed the brand to adapt quickly during the pandemic and the unprecedented landscape.
10. Scott Gittrich, founder and CEO of Toppers Pizza, said, “We were the first to offer contactless pickup and curbside delivery in our segment after the pandemic hit. I point this out as a testament to our urgency and commitment to technology – we were nimble, and we punched way above our weight, which led to incredible results.”
11. Thanks to these advancements, 73% to 78% of Toppers’ sales have come through digital channels over the past several months, said Gittrich. “Overall, our same-store sales increases are up 20% to 30% on a weekly basis, and we’ve also continued to open stores during the pandemic,” said Gittrich. “We opened our fourth store since the pandemic began, over a period of the last six months.”
12. When the pandemic first hit, Gittrich says the Toppers franchise family responded with unity, urgency, and care. “Going through a crisis can bring people together, and because of the way our brand’s culture and team operates, we came together in a really wonderful way that helped us thrive,” he said. “That support carries through to this day. There were obviously challenges, but we are able to see some of the positives now coming out of it.”
13. Toppers’ robust corporate team, which is much larger than most brands its size, includes eight developers and an IT department larger than any other in the company. This allows for a high level of support in which franchisees’ voices are heard and decisions are made based on feedback from the field.
14. “The Toppers team is incredibly hands-on when needed, with people in every department, including operations, training, marketing and social media, just a phone call away,” said Bill Stayduhar, a multi-unit Toppers franchisee in North Carolina and one of the brand’s oldest franchise owners. “In addition, franchisees receive evaluations four times a year from the corporate team. While that support is there, they also listen to our feedback and give us the freedom to make decisions based on our individual stores. That support infrastructure, which is much more advanced than many brands our size, has really allowed us to continue thriving over the past year as demand increases.”
15. The brand works hard to position franchisees for success in every way possible. For example, Toppers franchisees are able to tap into the brand’s first-party delivery platform through their POS, which means they have the ability to save on fees associated with third-party delivery apps and maintain a higher level of consistency.
16. Gittrich continued, “The competitive landscape has changed for the indefinite future. The move to e-commerce has been growing since the mid-90’s, and we don’t see that changing. We’ve dedicated ourselves and doubled down on those things that create advantages for our franchisees, such as technology, first-party delivery, curbside pick-up, menu creation, commitment to quality and a variety of fun, bold flavors for customers.”
17. Toppers takes the quality ingredients and innovative concepts often seen in the fast-casual world and offers it to customers through the quick-service delivery segment. That means franchisees are constantly staying ahead of guests’ expectations and tastes with menu innovation. Over the past few months, the brand has continued to roll out new menu items, including a vegan menu system wide, vegan Topperstix, and a recent addition of prime rib as a topping option.
18. Looking ahead, Gittrich predicts 2021 will see the Toppers franchise network continuing to grow as the economy and restaurant industry bounce back. “The economic environment is going to be conducive for franchise development, real estate selection and overcoming labor challenges,” he said. “The opportunity for us to grow our concept is as strong as it’s been in my career and certainly in a long time. High-quality, hand-made fresh food delivered with an incredible e-commerce experience is exactly what today’s consumer is looking for, and we are here to give it to them.”
19. This explains why the level of franchisee inquiries Toppers is receiving is as high as it’s been in five years. “It is an exciting time, and it shows people recognize the well-positioned value of our type of concept as more and more entrepreneurs look to start their own business and work for themselves,” Gittrich said.
20. Now, Toppers is continuing to look for qualified entrepreneurs in key growth markets across the country who are eager to join a thriving concept in a booming segment. The investment range for a Toppers Pizza franchise is $314,075 to $530,000.
21. Toppers Pizza was founded in 1991 by Scott Gittrich in Champaign, Illinois. Gittrich had spent several years working for Domino’s, starting as a delivery driver and working his way up to become director of operations for a group of Domino’s franchisees. Using the money he had meticulously saved while working for Domino’s, Gittrich started his own pizza restaurant.
22. Although Toppers Pizza was fairly popular, that first restaurant closed, but a second location was opened in Whitewater, Wisconsin in 1993. This second location became Toppers’ flagship store and Gittrich moved the brand’s headquarters to Whitewater. Gittrich continued to slowly grow Toppers in the area and by the late 1990s, he was ready to begin franchising the concept.
23. In 2002, the first franchised Toppers Pizza opened in La Crosse, Wisconsin. By the early 2010s, Toppers grew to about 30 locations, primarily in Wisconsin. Since then, Toppers Pizza has expanded outside of Wisconsin and there are now locations in about a dozen states.
Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500
24. Toppers Pizza did not rank on Entrepreneur’s 2021 Franchise 500 list.
Section II – Estimated Costs
- Please click here for detailed estimates of Toppers Pizza franchise costs, based on Item 7 of the company’s 2021 FDD.
Section III – Initial Franchise Fee, Royalty Fee, Marketing Fee, and Other Fees
- Please click here for detailed information on Toppers Pizza’s initial franchise fee, royalty fee, marketing fee, and other fees, based on Items 5 and 6 of the company’s 2021 FDD.
Section IV – Number of Franchised and Company-Owned Outlets
- Outlets at the Start of the Year: 60
- Outlets at the End of the Year: 56
- Net Change: -4
- Outlets at the Start of the Year: 56
- Outlets at the End of the Year: 47
- Net Change: -9
- Outlets at the Start of the Year: 47
- Outlets at the End of the Year: 47
- Net Change: 0
- Outlets at the Start of the Year: 22
- Outlets at the End of the Year: 21
- Net Change: -1
- Outlets at the Start of the Year: 21
- Outlets at the End of the Year: 20
- Net Change: -1
- Outlets at the Start of the Year: 20
- Outlets at the End of the Year: 20
- Net Change: 0
Section V – Financial Performance Representations (Item 19, 2021 FDD) and Analysis
- The following tables contain Gross Sales information for the fiscal year ended December 27, 2020, for all restaurants (both affiliate-owned and franchised) that were open as of December 27, 2020, and that had been open and operating for at least one full fiscal year.
- As of December 27, 2020, there were 67 Toppers Pizza restaurants open and operating. Of those 67 Toppers Pizza restaurants, 47 were franchised and 20 were affiliate-owned.
- One of the 47 franchised restaurants and one of the 20 affiliate-owned restaurants did not operate during the entire 2020 fiscal year, so those two restaurants were excluded from the results that Toppers Pizza used to prepare the table below.
- The 2020 fiscal year ran from December 30, 2019 to December 27, 2020, and consisted of 364 days.
Part 1 – 2020 Average Gross Sales
Open at Least One Full Fiscal Year