Franchise Philanthropy July/August 2018

Giving Back: Boston Pizza

Richard Enright is known for more than just his savvy business skills. The Boston Pizza franchisee has been working with the beloved Canadian brand for nearly 30 years, building a strong restaurant empire that spans across Manitoba with his wife Kim and their children, Jonathan and Karley.

Though Enright and his family may be most recognized across the heart of Canada for opening 16 Boston Pizza locations, it’s their philanthropic efforts that have catapulted them to all-star status.

While most franchise partners are eager to hop on board to participate in their system’s charitable initiatives – which usually involves giving back to a national charity – what differentiates the Enrights from other small business owners is their overwhelming commitment to supporting more locally-based fundraising events.

“We don’t necessarily go with the charity that is getting the most support. Sometimes you have to look at the charities that are smaller, but still working really hard to make a positive difference,” Enright explains.

Much like Boston Pizza head office has instilled in their franchise partners the value of giving back through the Boston Pizza Foundation Future Prospects, Enright has managed to do the same with his employees. Never shy to help those less fortunate, it has become second nature for his staff to support any charity that comes their way.

Whether it’s providing their signature pizzas to local sport fundraising events, donating time and money to Winnipeg’s Rehabilitation Centre for Children, or working alongside the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Manitoba to equip high schools and community clubs with life-saving defibrillators, the Enrights have created a giving back culture that is hard to find anywhere else.

And if you ask Enright why he has gone out of his way to make giving back a large part of his business model, he’ll simply tell you: “Because we can, we should.” This ‘why wouldn’t we’ mentality goes hand in hand with Enright’s positive relationship with his community.

“Winnipeg has treated us very well over the years,” he says. “They have helped to make us and the Boston Pizza franchise prosperous. The least we can do is give back and make it a positive experience for our staff.”

Employees across his more than 25 locations actively participate in year-round fundraising initiatives and, according to Enright, are happy to do so. “In some ways, our employees don’t even realize they’re raising money, because they’re having so much fun doing it.”

Under the leadership of each location’s manager, who Enright says deserve credit for helping to drive giving back events at their locations, employees partake in some friendly competition to see what individual, team, or restaurant can raise the most for a specific charity.

In addition to spearheading community-based initiatives, Enright ensures all of his locations are active in raising money for head office’s corporate charity, the Boston Pizza Foundation Future Prospects. Representing communities across the country, the Boston Pizza Foundation has advocated on behalf of children and families in need for over 25 years, raising $27 million for Canadian communities since its founding in 1990.

In 2014, the franchise took its charitable contributions one step forward by unveiling the Boston Pizza Foundation Future Prospects. In partnership with five national organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, JDRF, Kids Help Phone, Live Different, and the Rick Hansen Foundation, the Future Prospects program was developed to provide mentoring programs and positive role models to youth, and has become a hit among franchisees, employees, and Canadians from coast to coast.

The Foundation also plays a prevalent role in the franchise’s annual conventions, and giving back is frequently discussed and advocated for by the system’s leaders.

Still, Enright says he would give back even if head office didn’t encourage franchisees to do so. “We’re doing it along with them,” he says. “We don’t need any coaching to tell us that helping our community is the right thing to do!”

As the Enrights continue to open more Boston Pizza locations, they look forward to making more long-term charitable contributions to the people who need it most.

“You work all your life to be able to do good things for those around you,” Enright says. “In communities like Winnipeg, you can touch so many people, which is what we are striving to do within our network.”

By Kristin Di Tommaso