Canadian Pizza Magazine

Features Business and Operations Staffing
How Topper’s made data pay dividends


May 25, 2010
By Mark Wessel

Topics

A look at Topper’s new Best Experience Pizza Program shows how identifying the critical performance data on a daily basis makes for a better bottom line.

A look at Topper’s new Best Experience Pizza Program shows how
identifying the critical performance data on a daily basis makes for a
better bottom line.

Topper’s Pizza has always been focused on crunching the numbers. The
extensive reports their POS system produces and the hundreds of lines
of data proved too much for franchisees to even consider digesting. As
a result, Topper’s corporate was faced with the task of constantly
interpreting this data and making it user friendly for the franchisees.

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Topper’s president Keith Toppazzini was all too aware that franchisees
needed to have a better, timelier grasp of how well they were doing
with their customers. After all, the country was going through a
recession and consumers were becoming increasingly budget conscious to
the point where Topper’s saw the need to create what they ultimately
branded the Best Pizza Experience Program.

The Best Pizza Experience Program sprung from the notion that by
providing franchisees with critical performance data that was readily
understood on a daily basis, they would continue to tweak the
performance of their stores and staff and go to further lengths to
ensure customer satisfaction.

Toppazzini recalls: “We needed a true measurement tool done in real
time that let us know how we were doing with our customers … in order
to provide the best pizza experience with everyone served.”
The key, was to come up with what Toppazzini describes as critical data
points or key success factors tied to everything from the sales
performance of the stores, to production and customer wait times down
to such minute details as the average time pizzas were waiting under a
heat lamp.

While many of these details had been available at the corporate level
previously, the new system would ‘cherry pick’ what was deemed the most
critical data for each store and deliver a daily report simple enough
to be read on a smartphone.

To make this transition from producing top-heavy corporate information
to more focused store-level reports, Topper’s engaged the talents of
Pavliks, a full-service software programming company based in Barrie,
Ont.

Pavliks programmer Ben Wood, who worked on developing the customized
POS module, says one of the biggest challenges with the Best Pizza
Experience initiative was to work with Topper’s to “identify values
that franchisees could relate to their stores that they would
understand and would highlight areas they were either doing well at or
underperforming.”

From a performance standpoint, the values deemed critical included
change in sales for the same day over the previous year, number of
orders for this day compared to the previous year, average cheque
amount, and sales per labour hour. For instance regarding this latter
point, if a store’s goal was to maintain a 10 per cent labour cost and,
for the sake of simplicity, the store was paying employees $10 an hour,
then the goal would be to generate $100 or more per hour in sales for
each employee.

By monitoring such critical data on a daily basis, the goal was, as
Toppazzini puts it, to “place a mirror in front of each franchisee” so
they could tell from one day to the next if their respective business
performances were on track or in need of adjustment.

Aside from sales performance data, the other critical area was
measurable data that was directly tied to customer experiences in terms
of in-store wait times, delivery wait times and heat lamp times.
Consistent with the Best Pizza Experience concept, Topper’s has always
felt that heat lamp times are a huge quality indicator for their
pizzas. No matter how good the ingredients are or how tasty the pizza,
the quality of the pizza would suffer if heat lamp times weren’t kept
to an absolute minimum.

“Our goal is to monitor the performance of each store so that the vast
majority of customer wait times across the chain are no more than 12-14
minutes for in-store service from the time an order is placed,”
observes Toppazzini. “And if a store isn’t meeting these numbers, we
need to take a closer look at the average production time … because at
the end of the day, our ovens cook at the same temperatures and time
day in, day out … so the only variable is the prep time.”

When Topper’s first announced the decision to move ahead with the Best
Pizza Experience Program, Toppazzini says the initial response of the
franchisees was, “Oh no, not another report.” But since launching the
program at the start of this year, he says the feedback has turned to,
“Wow, we have an opportunity to do better. Our strategic partners have
really started looking at themselves.”

Topper’s corporate continues to monitor the performance of each store
on a daily basis and connecting directly with store owners any time
noticeable blips occur with respect to a store’s performance from the
previous day.

Having just gone through its first quarter with the Best Pizza
Experience program in place, it’s too soon to provide a long term
analysis of the program’s success. However, there is enough qualitative
data already to show that performance of some stores in critical areas
such as production time has improved by as much as 50 per cent, and
overall Toppazzini says the performance of the stores has improved
quite a bit. As he puts it, “What we’ve achieved so far is only the tip
of the iceberg.”

After all, mining the data is only half the battle. The critical factor
in making Topper’s Best Pizza Experience program and any program like
it a success comes down to how the company responds to the data.


Mark Wessel is the principal of Bullpen PR, a company that develops
PR and social media programs for clients, including Topper’s Pizza, in
the food and beverage, travel and real estate sectors.