Q&A with Phil Gaffer, QFP, Franchise Sales and Business Development Manager Papa John’s UK

We are all very much hoping that life will return to normal soon. However, until that can be achieved, it’s a case of navigating the new landscape as best we can, ensuring all our staff and customers remain safe, and that we can keep delivering on our promise.

Originally published on Franchise Direct: https://www.franchisedirect.co.uk/news/pizza-franchises/papa-johns/q-a-with-phil-gaffer-qfp-franchise-sales-and-business-development-manager-papa-johns-uk

How are franchisees adjusting during the pandemic?

We have issued guidelines and detailed information to our franchisees on how to keep their staff and customers safe during the current health crisis. This is our absolute priority as a business. One of the benefits of being a global organisation, is that we can use ‘lessons learned’ from the other countries we operate in around the world and this knowledge has been shared so best-practice approaches can easily be implemented.

At Papa John’s in the UK, we are fortunate to be able to support our communities by delivering hot food to those staying at home and to people in outdoor locations that are in line with government advice, all the while continuing to offer them great value for our top quality pizza made with the freshest, finest ingredients. However, processes have had to be updated to ensure social distancing rules can be observed at all times by staff. For some franchisees, this means they have needed to open earlier so staff have more time and space to move around the premises, for example.

We have also introduced contactless delivery. Our pizzas are cooked in our ovens at 4500, they go straight into the box and are sealed with our Quality Guarantee Seal sticker ready for customers to enjoy in their own homes. Our drivers call the customer when they are outside, place the order on top of an empty box and wait for the customer to collect it. We have also stopped cash payments and our franchisees are working on a delivery only model, so at the moment, customers can only order delivery pizza rather than visit our stores.

Papa John’s Quality Control Center (QCC) has and continues to do a sterling job. The team has ensured every delivery is fulfilled to all the stores throughout the UK while adhering to Government guidelines on staff safety and engaging with suppliers. This has meant increasing the number of shifts at our dough factory to manage output safely. These guys are the engine of the business.

Is Papa John’s still recruiting for new franchisees?

Yes, absolutely! For many people, the COVID-19 situation has meant a change in work patterns. I think more time at home has given people the chance to reflect, take stock, think of the big picture and their future. I’ve been talking to those who are looking ahead and interested in pursuing a new direction. Papa John’s sustainable multi-unit business model is as attractive a proposition as ever.

Enquiries come from every walk of life and we welcome new franchisees regardless of their background, providing they have the energy, enthusiasm and ability to run a successful business. Currently, I am seeing interest from those already involved in the food sector at the one end of the scale, to a law professional looking for a new challenge at the other!

The important point is that these people match our mindset, which means they are keen to develop a multi-unit portfolio of stores and at the same time, look after their staff and provide great pizza and service safely to customers.

Has the recruitment process changed?

The franchise recruitment process is the same, yet we have needed to become ‘virtual’ for some elements. I usually start by chatting to potential franchisees over the phone, then they attend a discovery day where we meet in-person. Normally, I’m on the road twice a week holding discovery meetings across the UK. Now, I’m holding weekly ‘virtual’ discovery days online. These 1-to-1 sessions are the first step in getting to know the candidate and them getting to know Papa John’s. They are an opportunity for both parties to ask questions to see if there could be a good fit for the future. I am also planning virtual regional recruitment events which will start to be held as soon as possible.

Has financial support available for new franchisees changed?

Buying a franchise is a mid-to-long term investment. Banks are still very much providing funding for viable and realistic business propositions. The key to accessing this support is the research that goes into a detailed business plan. This is an essential element of our recruitment process and the responsibility of the franchisee. We provide the template for business plan and the franchisee completes all the research to ensure the investment and proposal are sound.

How can Papa John’s help?

At Papa John’s we are fortunate to be set up to continue to deliver during this crisis. We are still recruiting for new franchisees who are hungry to become multi-unit franchisees and we are pleased to be able to support people considering this journey.

Many people are without employment currently, but our stores remain busy. While our stores are at capacity, and where some of our own staff may not be able to work, we are able to offer temporary jobs to the unemployed. For some, this may be a lifeline and we hope by pulling together at this time it will help.

We have also been encouraged by the stories from our franchisees about how their staff are honouring and supporting those on the frontline and the homeless with special hot food deliveries. We are proud of these initiatives where our staff are thinking of others during this crisis.

We are all very much hoping that life will return to normal soon. However, until that can be achieved, it’s a case of navigating the new landscape as best we can, ensuring all our staff and customers remain safe, and that we can keep delivering on that promise.