Better Ingredients – Better and Faster Pizza

Discussion
Apr 25, 2006
George Anderson

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

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8 Comments on "Better Ingredients – Better and Faster Pizza"


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Mark Burr
Guest
14 years 10 months ago

I think the last paragraph says it all and is completed by Ryan’s comment. You can’t beat Little Caesars ‘Hot and Ready’ large pizza for $5.00 bucks. The guy plays pizza like his team plays hockey!

Many restaurants have a ‘lunch pledge’. Most that do offer the same 10 minute pledge. It’s another ‘me too’ added to the long line of limited differentiation.

The problem is, if your lunch is screwed up, is whatever is promised in return worth it? Not likely!

I also think that this may be in direct conflict with their ability to deliver on their claim of a better pizza. To the consumer, I wonder what’s really important?

Daryle Hier
Guest
Daryle Hier
14 years 10 months ago

I like the concept but with one caveat – customers are willing to stand and wait ten minutes? The cavalier attitude I don’t agree with and have some doubts on the thought that it’s no worse than drive through. But again, I like the idea and the differentiation is good. If Papa John’s can capitalize on this small advantage, more power to them.

Karin Miller
Guest
Karin Miller
14 years 10 months ago

There is little doubt speed and convenience continue to become a more important factor in consumers’ purchasing decisions. Though it would never occur to me to order a custom-made pizza at lunch time during the work week, I would imagine that for the subset of people for whom this is a preference, the store with the shortest preparation time (without a sacrifice in quality) would get the most traffic.

Christopher Fink, CMC
Guest
Christopher Fink, CMC
14 years 10 months ago

As demand grows from consumers regarding this news as a solution to their perception that luncheon pizza ordering is slow, Papa John’s will need to maintain quality in their food and purchase experience.

The question we can’t answer is how different the 10-minute offer is from PJ’s actual service level today? For instance, if today they average 11-minutes, we would assume they could deliver on the 10-minute offer with little additional effort. If so, it’s a clever marketing angle to reach consumers who harbor a poor time perception. Otherwise, let’s hope their operations are up to the challenge!

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 10 months ago

Echoing Ryan’s comment: speed ain’t the only thing people want. Many people assume speed = low quality. It might be better to just serve people faster and advertise the quality and taste. How about that saying, “Under-promise and over-deliver”? If you just serve people a great product faster, won’t they notice? If you tell them it’s faster, will you ruin the appeal?

Ryan Mathews
Guest
14 years 10 months ago

The key is keeping the taste up and consistent. Who cares how fast you get a mediocre pizza?

James Tenser
Guest
14 years 10 months ago
If Papa John’s has done its homework, then it must have empirical evidence that long preparation times have limited its competitiveness with the lunch trade. It and others in the industry can take a cue from fast service best practitioners such as WaWa and Sheetz convenience store chains, who have distinguished themselves at providing custom-prepared sandwiches at high velocity and with high accuracy. Like these operators, Papa John’s no doubt recognizes that weekday lunch trade profits are a function of the number of orders that can be filled within a fixed time period – typically noon to 1:30 PM. The available time cannot be changed, nor can fixed costs, like rent, but operational tweaks – like faster ovens – can increase the number of pies that may be served per business day. Widening the pizza pipeline in this manner is only half the equation. The other half is driving customer demand to fill the pipeline. That begins with awareness that PJ’s is an acceptable (good quality + fast enough) option for a business lunch break.… Read more »
Don Delzell
Guest
Don Delzell
14 years 10 months ago
A couple of points jumped out at me. First, 10 minutes is NOT the average time a consumer waits in a drive through at a QSR, unless that QSR wants to be out of business relatively quickly. The time in line objectives vary by player and degree of freshly made involved in the order, but we are talking less than 5 minutes across the board as success metrics. Or so it used to be. Second, I recall Pizza Hut running a lunch time promotion for a number of years based on the their Personal Pan Pizza. Data points of one or two, I believe this was successful in increasing lunch volume at participating locations. However, I believe this was a dine-in promotion. We don’t have access to the market research we hope Papa John’s did before investing in the equipment and advertising. Again, I’m not an expert on Papa John’s. But I think most of the locations are carry out, right? So a workplace lunch would entail walking/driving to the location, placing the order, hanging… Read more »
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