Company ProfilesIconic BrandSeptember/October 2019

Iconic Brand: Pizza Pizza

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Canadians love their pizza. It’s a fun food, and a way to come together and enjoy a meal, watch a game or celebrate life’s moments. Pizza is a party!

As Pizza Pizza celebrates more than 50 years, find out why this iconic brand is upper crust in the industry.

A slice of history

On New Year’s Eve in 1967, Michael Overs opened the first Pizza Pizza location at Parliament and Wellesley streets in Toronto. With plenty of density at the downtown core, the store was positioned for success. Overs ran the business at night, and worked hard to expand during the day. “He understood the core values of building a business with great service, an exceptional product, and the value of getting it to people fast,” says Pizza Pizza senior vice president Sebastian Fuschini.

As the company expanded throughout Ontario and the rest of Canada, it acquired Alberta-based Pizza 73. Today, more than 770 locations serve up hot, fresh favourites, and the system continues to grow in British Columbia and Quebec.

The difference                      

A solid history with more than 50 years in business and an established management team are benefits of investing in Pizza Pizza.

Unlike traditional models, the franchise developed the Pizza Pizza Associate Program (PPAP), designed for individuals who may lack the finances needed to invest, but have the drive and character to start a business. The PPA program allows prospective franchisees the opportunity to operate and then eventually purchase the franchise.

The iconic brand has been around for 52 years; more than half a century. As the company evolves with fresh ideas and fresh faces, it strives to improve, whether it’s the training program or the product. “At the end of the day, it’s not that pepperoni or that cheese we put on the pizza, it’s the pizza from Pizza Pizza.”

Franchisees learn how to run the business, with classroom training that mirrors the experience at the store level. It gives the franchisee and the brand the opportunity to review one another.

Becoming the expert

Franchisee Samveet Gulati joined Pizza Pizza in 2013 as a restaurant manager, with the hope of becoming an entrepreneur and starting his own restaurant. Within six months, he was promoted to District Sales Manager, and managed 26 stores throughout the Brampton and Woodbridge areas in Ontario. He transferred to the east end, where he managed 32 stores, including corporate locations, with sales of $30 million a year.

Once Gulati gained some experience, he set his sights on getting into business for himself, and began exploring the options available in the QSR category. “I came back to the idea of getting a Pizza Pizza for myself. I considered myself an expert in the field with the six years I spent with the company. I handled multiple stores and day-to-day issues at any given time. A lot of time and sweat went into it, so why not get into the system?”

He opened his first store in Scarborough, Ontario in June of 2018. As one of the top 10 locations in the country, with $1.8 million in sales a year, Gulati’s hard work is paying off. “I’ve seen both sides of the fence now. It has its own challenges and its own good moments. I’m enjoying it.”

Gulati says it’s important to understand the product and the preparation needed for a comfortable and profitable business day, and the training and corporate culture help equip franchisees with the skills they need to be confident.

A slice of advice

With the number of existing stores and multi-unit franchisees, Gulati says Pizza Pizza is a great organization to invest in. “It’s Ontario’s number one pizza, as the tagline goes, and it shows. I would tell anyone that comes into this business to come in with an open mind and to be very hands on.”

For Gulati, the support of family and loved ones is paramount to franchisee success. “I go to work seven days a week, and if it was not for my better half, I would not be able to join this team. I could take a day off if I want to, but when you own something like this, and you’re proud of it, you want to go in seven days a week, even if it’s for a few hours to make sure everything is up to mark. If I don’t have that support, I can’t run the show. I am glad for that support.”

By Gina Makkar