Papa Murphy’s: Pleasing With Pizza

As the world’s leading take-n-bake pizza chain, Papa Murphy’s is sweeping the nation!

Serving guests customized pizzas from scratch-made dough, freshly grated 100 percent whole-milk mozzarella cheese, hand-chopped vegetable toppings, and a variety of meat selections; the focus on fresh never frozen is key in Papa Murphy’s booming success and national growth.

Allowing customers to watch their pizza be created on order, take them home to bake in their own ovens, and enjoy them with their families is not just a hot trend in the pizza world these days, it’s a winning concept.

Papa Murphy’s history dates back to the early 1980s, when its predecessor counterparts, Papa Aldo’s and Murphy’s Pizza, hit the streets of the Pacific Northwest. Recognizing the success of the two separate chains, entrepreneur Terry Collins acquired the two brands in the late 80s, and in 1995 merged the two chains to create Papa Murphy’s. Combining the Papa Aldo’s 65 units with Murphy’s Pizza’s seven to create a strong brand under the Papa Murphy’s name, this attracted large consumer markets, resulting in the company being recognized as the “Best Pizza Chain in America” for seven years in a row.

A player in one of the most crowded, aggressive franchising categories, what sets Papa Murphy’s apart from other pizza chains is the unique niche they have created. As a part of the carry out segment, the fastest growing segment in the pizza category, Papa Murphy’s takes it up a notch.

“When consumers try our product, they don’t go back to the competition because they are serving their family a product that tastes better and is better because of the quality of the ingredients we use,” Scott Mellon, Vice President of Franchise Sales says, adding, “It’s a game changer for us.”

Consistently ranking 10 to 15 percent higher than their competitors, the overall consumer experience when visiting a Papa Murphy’s location is exceptional. “We put all our money into our food,” Ken Calwell, Papa Murphy’s CEO says. “We may be the underdog in size, but not in flavor and customer satisfaction.”

Today Papa Murphy’s is owned by Lee Equity Partners who parent the 1370 locations grounded throughout 38 states, in Canada and Dubai. Built on 15 years of steady predictable growth, “Franchising growth has been a consistently strong story for us,” Mellon says.

Currently seeking franchisees with a desire to own and operate a simple and easy-to-execute concept, Papa Murphy’s is looking to fill markets throughout the U.S. and Canada. The average cost to open a Papa Murphy’s ranges between $209, 330 and $396, 710, a lower initial investment than most chains in the quick service industry. Site selection is also made easy with a low overhead, as there are no dine-in space, ovens, freezers or delivery vehicles required.

Potential franchisees need to be financially sound, possessing a liquidity of $80,000 and a net worth of $275,000. Ideal candidates have a successful background in business as an owner/operator, or are multi-unit owners. “Papa Murphy’s gives franchisees the tools, products, and business model they need to be successful making the transition from employee in corporate America to small business owner,” Mellon says.

Papa Murphy’s franchising process consists of eight steps: Qualification, Disclosure, Discovery, Franchise Agreement, Training, Site Selection, Construction, and Opening. The mutual evaluation process, which is designed to include plenty of face-to-face time, takes approximately three to four months from the time a candidate shows interest to the time of signing the franchise agreement. Next the franchisee begins working to secure a site, complete training and start construction. The entire process on average is six to nine months.

The franchise training program is designed as a comprehensive four-week process that covers everything from in-store hands on training at an existing location, to a classroom setting training where franchisees learn financial management, the business system and processes. Franchisees are given a business model that has proven successful for many years, and work with specialized members of the corporate team in each division. These individuals have a high level of expertise in their particular field to work with the local franchisee, supporting them in successfully opening and operating their business. “It’s not just one person wearing a bunch of different hats, it’s an entire team of specialized individuals to help secure, open and operate their store,” Mellon explains.

An ideal time to join the brand, Papa Murphy’s is the next fastest growing concept proven out over 1000 units. This year the company plans to open more than 100 new locations. “With most of our growth still in front of us, franchisees are able to get involved with a high growth company that has premium development opportunities still available,” Mellon explains, adding how the quick service restaurant category sees the most growth and action in the franchising industry. Within the quick service category there are five top sellers: burgers, pizza, chicken, sandwiches and burritos (Mexican food). “To be successful you must create a niche in one of these categories, which is what Papa Murphy’s did with take-n-bake,” he says.

With plans to launch their new store design, CREATE, company wide in early 2014, the new look focuses on who the company is today and where they are headed. “Our current look is based on our history, where we’ve come from and the longevity of the business, CREATE has a cleaner, more modern look and feel to it,” Mellon says.

Featuring a bright, fresh open layout to showcase the fresh toppings and building process, and a digital menu board to enhance the customer experience, the new look is about bringing the food to life. “For over 32 years we have strived to provide the best fresh pizza experience to busy families. Our new food-forward store highlights our high-quality ingredients with clean and simple design,” Kevin King, Papa Murphy’s Chief Development Officer says. “We’re fresh. We boast uncompromising quality, hand-prepared ingredients and want to share the CREATE experience. We are extremely passionate about providing a take-home dinner experience our guests can be proud of – just like we are proud of the new store design.”

Papa Murphy’s has been rated the “#1 Food Chain” over all full-service and limited-service chains in the 2013 Consumer Restaurant Brand Metrics Ranking by Technomic. The company has also been recognized as Zagat’s “Number One Rated Pizza Chain” for the past three years, the “#1Pizza Chain” in Nation’s Restaurant News 2013 Consumer Picks survey, as well as received other awards such as “Chain of the Year,” the “Franchisee Satisfaction Award,” and “Top Food and Top Service.”

“It’s an exciting time for us as we continue to strengthen our footprint as the largest player in the take-‘n’-bake pizza category,” King says. “Our brand has found a sweet spot in this economy. We’re a high-value, quality-oriented solution for families who are evaluating their out-of-home dining purchases.”

-Jessica Spoto

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