Entrepreneurs looking for deep pan profits might consider taking out a pizza franchise. Once the jealously guarded turf of Italian immigrants in cities such as New York, the fast food pizza industry is now a huge national industry – and these days anyone can get involved.
There are a sizeable array of pizza chain franchises to choose from – including Pizza Inn, Figaro's Pizza, Pizza Fusion, Pizza Hut, Samuel Mancino's and many others – each with their own distinctive set of business propositions, flavors and toppings. But before approaching a chain, it's worth considering a number of key issues.
The first thing to bear in mind is up front costs. Chains are likely to charge a marketing and advertising deposit. To take Pizza Inn as an example (which is not necessarily representative), these can range from around $10,000 to $15,000, depending on market size.
Sprinkled on top of this are royalty fees. Pizza Inn charges four per cent of weekly gross for a Buffet and Delivery or Carryout store, while for an Express store the charge is five per cent. If these costs seem heavy it's often perfectly possible to team up with a partner and split the cost. After all, a really good pizza is better shared between friends.
The next thing to consider is whether the chain will help out with the finances for the development of the restaurant. Some chains will throw in cash for this, others won't. Some chains will ask to see business qualifications of some sort – although plenty won't. For others, evidence of some former business success is prerequisite. But many chains will be willing to throw even the most 'unseasoned' into the oven.
But finances and experience aside, there's always that big question: what kind of personality is best suited to a pizza franchise? What brings the all important "Mystic Pizza" ingredient?
Pizza Inn explains: "A Pizza Inn franchise is not for everyone. You must be willing to work long hours, be comfortable with such areas as personnel management, financial management, marketing and business development. Having strong communication, motivation, and customer service skills is also very important in this business."
Whether or not a chain will expect franchise holders to run the restaurant personally is another key question to consider. Some individuals advise operators to run the joint personally, others are happy for "an experienced manager" to be hired.
It might be best to be there in person though. At least then, at the end of the day, there's always the sweet, tempting smell of melting mozzarella and – if things go well – a fusion of irresistible toppings including salamis, hams, vegetables, tropical fruit… And of course – if things do go really well – a trip to Italy to pay homage is a must.