Liz Williams, Managing Director, Papa John's UK Exclusive Franchise Expo Interview

Date

Oct 31, 2018

Liz Williams, Papa John's Managing Director Exclusive Interview!

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Find out who Papa John's is looking for in a Franchisee, what you need to succeed and the attributes Papa John's are looking for in our exclusive CEO interview with UK Managing Director Liz Williams.

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1. Tell us about the Papa John’s concept.

Papa John’s was founded in the USA in 1984 and there are now more than 400 franchised stores across the UK and over 5,000 stores in more than 40 international markets and territories.

Papa John’s stands out because the product is exceptional.  At Papa John’s we only use the finest ingredients and fresh dough, never frozen, to give a better flavour.  However, the Company’s: “BETTER INGREDIENTS.  BETTER PIZZA.” concept is only part of the story.  Our franchisees and their staff are highly trained and skilled in working with fresh dough and quality ingredients like our unique tomato sauce made from the best Californian tomatoes, to create the finest pizzas and they always keeps customers coming back for more!

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2. How and when did you become involved with Papa John’s?

The UK is  the biggest market place for Papa John's outside the US. I was keen to become an integral part of Papa John’s journey of expansion in the region.   I joined Papa John’s only a few months ago and my new role will see the UK taking complete autonomy to drive the agenda for further regional expansion, based on extensive customer and franchisee feedback.

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3. What was your background prior to joining Papa John’s?

I have more than 20 years’ experience in the food industry.  Before joining Papa John’s, I was CEO for restaurant brand Whyte & Brown Ltd developing a  scale-able free-range chicken concept and prior to that, director general manager of Greene King PLC’s Loch Fyne Restaurants for six years.  My experience also includes time as managing director for Clapham House Group’s, The Real Greek and in numerous roles at Pizza Hut (UK) Ltd, where I started my career and the interest in pizza!

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4. What are some of the advantages in being a Papa John’s franchisee?

Papa John’s is an established and popular global franchised brand.  We have a fabulous product and are working in an expanding marketplace.  In the UK, there are many opportunities for ambitious individuals to join our team to grow their own portfolio of Papa John’s stores.  With a little hard-work it is possible for franchisees to become successful and create a very comfortable lifestyle for themselves and their families.

We offer full training and our support teams are dedicated to ensuring the process of opening stores is as smooth as possible to enable franchisees to focus on the day-to-day running of their outlets.  From site selection to favourable lease negotiation, gaining the correct planning permission to the fit-out of stores, our in-house experts manage all the required administration to offer a full turn-key solution to store openings.

Papa John’s also has an excellent reputation with the relevant financial institutions so the process of obtaining funding for expansion for suitable franchisees is straight-forward.

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5. Who is your ideal franchisee?

Our franchisees come from all cultures and walks of life and we accept applications from ambitious individuals regardless of background or experience.  However, because they need to manage a team, our most successful franchisees are always excellent communicators.  They are motivated and can inspire their people to create and keep delivering the very best pizza in one of the fastest-paced environments on the high-street.

Franchisees often have an entrepreneurial flair and maybe career changers although some do have food retail experience already.   Some join our Papa John’s family from competitor firms, recognising the extensive opportunities we have to take on multiple stores and grow with us.

We even have a few franchisees who used to work for Papa John’s as students!  They recognised the business opportunity a long time ago and now they have taken on their own stores successfully!

From our point of view, we are keen to work with people who share our values on quality customer service and business excellence and individuals who are keen to become multi-store operators.  In return, we provide everything needed, from training to set-up, to help franchisees run successful stores.

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6. What are some of the great lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?

I haven’t been at Papa John’s long, but my focus is on creating closer relationships with our franchisees.  One of the first projects I’ve embarked on is a listening tour of the UK.  I’ve been talking to franchisees to uncover their challenges and listening to customers to see how we can become even better.  From helping franchisees increase sales through innovative product development based on thorough customer research, to making the most of Papa John’s purchasing power to drive down costs, I am currently using the information to review and further improve our operations and franchisee returns across the board.

It is an exciting time for the Papa John’s family and we will be developing our culture of listening to generate even more ideas from franchisees, staff and customers alike to grow our market share, all with consumer satisfaction and loyalty firmly front-of-mind.  I’m also aiming to introduce a little bit more fun to the brand too, so watch this space!  We will reward entrepreneurial spirit which will be motivating for staff plus help us appeal to a younger demographic – the future of our customer base over the long-term.

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7. Do you have a mentor and is there someone you use for inspiration?

To be honest there is no one individual person I look up to as I look up to many, and like to think I have taken positive traits and experiences from many of the people I have engaged with in my career and personal life to help grow and develop me as a person and business woman.

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8. What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?

While research is important, so is honesty with yourself.  The relationship with your franchisor may last 10-15 years and, in some cases, longer, so make sure you fully understand what’s involved and that you will excel in the particular environment you will be working in.   At Papa John’s we know happy people make the best pizza, so we like our franchisees and their staff to be motivated and always happy to deliver!

While research is important, so is honesty with yourself.  The relationship with your franchisor may last 10-15 years and, in some cases, longer, so make sure you fully understand what’s involved and that you will excel in the particular environment you will be working in.   At Papa John’s we know happy people make the best pizza, so we like our franchisees and their staff to be motivated and always happy to deliver!

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9. In your opinion why do you think that Papa John’s would be a fantastic opportunity for someone?

A Papa John’s franchise offers the chance to run multiple stores and grow a portfolio of successful outlets.   You will be working with some of the most talented and experienced individuals in this thriving industry.  Plus, we will have plenty of fun on the way!

Currently we have some special incentives for franchisees opening new stores which include deals on equipment, reduced fees and help with marketing so there has never been a better time to join Papa John’s!

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Want to open your own Papa John's Franchise? Just click 'Request Free Info' to get in touch direct!

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