Better Ingredients – Better and Faster Pizza
By George Anderson
The Papa John’s pizza chain has long hung its hat on the marketing pitch that its pies are of superior quality to competitors in the market. Now, it’s adding speed to the reasons consumers should be picking up their pies from the chain’s restaurants.
Papa John’s has announced plans to roll out what the company says will be the fastest made-to-order pizzas in the U.S. New ovens with higher air velocity and higher-speed burners will be installed in about 750 of the company’s locations and allow it to cut the time needed to cook pizzas from six to four minutes.
With the time-savings, Papa John’s says it will be able to fill pie orders during the hectic lunch period in 10 minutes or less. If the company fails to have the pie ready for takeout in the allotted time then consumers get it for free. The program called Papa’s 10 Minute Carry-out Customer Guarantee has been tested in several markets and stores have been successful more than 99 percent of the time in meeting the deadline.
Tim O’Hern, senior vice president of development at Papa John’s, told USA Today the new ovens are a major step forward for the chain. “This will put us in line to compete with other fast feeders like Wendy’s,” he said. “Ten minutes is about the time people spend waiting in line at the drive-through window.”
Bob Sandelman, an industry consultant, said that Papa John’s will need to protect against any drop-off in quality. If it is able to do that, then its 10 Minute Carry-out Customer Guarantee could be a big winner for the company.
“People are time-starved at lunch,” he said. “In 10 minutes, you can check your e-mails or return a phone call. This could be a big competitive advantage.”
Papa John’s O’Hern said consumers will find the quality they expect from the company’s pizzas. In test stores located in Louisville, Philadelphia and Dallas, customers reported no quality differences between the new faster pizzas and those they have always enjoyed. “Quality is what we’ve built this brand on,” he said.
Pizza Hut, the nation’s largest pizza chain, said it has no plans to follow Papa John’s lead. Jennifer Little, a spokesperson for the company, said, “In our experience, freshly baked, high-quality pizza takes more than four minutes. And we think it’s worth waiting for.”
Little Caesar’s can beat Papa John’s for speed if consumers are willing to buy pizzas that are not made-to-order. The chain sells Hot-N-Ready pizzas that are available to consumers when they walk in its restaurants.
Moderator’s Comment: Do you see Papa John’s 10 Minute Carry-out Customer Guarantee at lunch being a competitive advantage
over other pizza retailers? Will the quicker turnaround time help the chain compete with other types of fast food operators as the company intends? –
George Anderson – Moderator