Topper’s pizza turns to new tech for growth
VAUGHAN, Ont. — Topper’s Pizza is turning to new technology to expand the chain throughout Ontario, as well as creep into the Greater Toronto Area.
After sitting at 37 stores for more than a year, the Sudbury-based pizza chain opened new pizzerias in its hometown, Thunder Bay, Vaughan, Espanola and Kirkland Lake.
When the Thunder Bay location opened in October, the franchise set a company-wide sales record, selling more than 4,000 pizzas in a week and establishing a Facebook fan base of more than 1,000 people.
The Vaughan location marks Topper’s closest presence yet to the Toronto market.
“Companies usually start in the GTA and move outwards. We’re kind of the opposite,” said Todd Sattler, director of franchise development for Topper’s. “We’ve been strong in northern markets.”
Before embarking on its push to open new stores, Topper’s spent a year developing a plan to achieve successful growth.
The groundwork included a brand refresh, hiring Sattler for franchise development, completing a survey of 8,000 customers and sourcing efficient equipment for its restaurants.
“We’ve done a lot of things in our design that are really trying to add efficiency to the pizzeria and make things easier for our franchise partners,” Sattler said.
Its new pizza ovens, for example, are up to 40 per cent faster and use 30 per cent less energy. When not in use, the oven utilizes a standby mode. A sensor within the appliance detects when a pizza enters the oven.
“About 60 per cent of the time, they’re not even in use — you’re spending on electricity to keep them running,” Sattler said. “When you’re in a business that makes product to order, it makes a big impact.”
As well, Topper’s introduced LED lighting throughout its restaurants and replaced its freezers with energy efficient walk-in coolers.
“We’ve tried to make every element of the pizzeria more efficient,” Sattler said.
To enhance customer service, the company is using a new centralized 2,800-square-foot call centre in Sudbury, Ont.
“We operate that call centre within our team. We find a big benefit to that, since you’re dealing with people that actually know the brand,” Sattler said.
For walk-in customers, Topper’s introduced a wait time calculator that lets customers know the progress of their order.
“When they come into the pizzeria they can see their order on the screen,” Sattler said. “If it’s ready or in the oven or if it’s being cut, they can see all of those stages.”
Size permitting, new locations will also be equipped with a dough-making window, which gives customers a glimpse of staff making the dough from scratch.
“It’s a huge competitive advantage for us,” Sattler said. “It’s to educate the consumer on what we do. It’s a full disclosure approach; you can interact with that experience.”RELATED: Pizza and beer is just a few clicks away