Toppers Pizza Eyes 70 Locations in Core Midwest Markets

(Press Release) Whitewater, WI, June 04, 201–Rather than randomly dotting the map with locations, Toppers Pizza, the 41-unit pizza take-out and founder of fast casual delivered, has maintained a strategic growth pattern of opening clusters of locations in the same region, protecting brand awareness and allowing for stronger growth.

For the brand’s first 20 years, this strategy trialed and succeeded in Wisconsin. Now the hot franchise brand is striking gold with the same strategy in outside markets, such as Chicago and Minneapolis. In fact, by the end of 2012, Wisconsin will be home to 30 Toppers locations, including 5 in Chicago and 6 in Minneapolis.

The development strategy continues its momentum next year as well, as Chicagoland will add eight more locations and Minneapolis will add nine. By the end of 2015, Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota will boast more than 70 locations.

“Clustered growth protects our brand and secures better franchisees, better real estate all with a stronger attention to our customer,” said Scott Iversen, Director of Marketing. “With better market penetration, we are able to attack the three screens (TV, Mobile and Internet) with powerful, interactive engagement.”

Currently, Toppers has 41 locations in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kentucky, Ohio, North Carolina, Indiana, Illinois and Nebraska. Upcoming openings include locations in Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Texas. Focusing its expansion in the upper Midwest, the brand’s aggressive growth campaign to reach 150 locations by the end of 2015 targets top-tier, multi-unit/multi-brand franchisees with portfolios that include historic and proven franchise brands. In fact, thanks to this powerful group of franchise owners, Toppers will climb over the 50th unit mark later this year based on previously-scheduled openings. Additionally, the brand is experienced an influx of interest in franchise opportunities and has already awarded the rights to another six new locations along with 20 under contract to be built by 2015.

“As we grow, like a balloon, out of Wisconsin and into surrounding states and then nationwide, we want to maintain a stronghold on top-tier franchisees. By doing so, we can maintain our core culture, our brand evolution, and our methodical growth pattern,” Iversen said.

This success is not by accident. When founder, Scott Gittrich, decided to rebel against big box pizza chains, he did so with a methodical vision to test and test again every aspect of his pizza-concept. Starting off with the simple goal of recapturing the magic of a made-from-scratch pizza in a sea of cookie cutter chains, Gittrich laid the foundation for his vision. Nearly 20 years later, his Whitewater-based pizza brand is showcasing its growth potential, as it now comes armed with 41 locations and an incredible average unit volume ($932,761) plus average per unit net profit ($131,341) for all Toppers locations open a year or more.

“We’re not one of those fly-by-night good ideas that sounds good on paper, but doesn’t have the staying power to back it up,” Gittrich said. “This thing works wherever we go — small town, metro, urban, campus, residential, you name it.”

The brand’s easily scalable business model allows for rapid growth potential and enables franchisees to reach a hugely underserved market. By focusing on the “Fast Casual Delivered” segment, franchisees are able to build connections with their customers on a personal level and further enhance overall brand loyalty.

“Our numbers are proven and our model is perfected, however, in order for multi-unit franchisees to take us seriously, we wanted to ensure we offered industry top innovation and standards,” Gittrich said. “These steps have already jump started the conversation, as our inquires have increased more than 500 percent and the traffic to our franchise site is up more than 1,000 percent over last year.”