Papa John's: Why we say no

Papa John’s is a leading pizza franchise with well over 350 stores in the UK and over 5,000 stores in more than 40 international markets and territories.

Since 1984, when Papa John’s first started out in the USA, the company has recruited and worked successfully with hundreds of franchisees.


Phil Gaffer, Franchise Sales and Development Manager

Our franchisees come from all cultures and walks of life and their levels of experience and backgrounds can vary hugely.  Yet, with the right attitude and correct and thorough training, plus a world-class service and product, all the ingredients are in place to create a successful franchised business.

Naturally, we look for the very best candidates to work with us as franchisees.  They become custodians of our brand so need to be motivated, enthusiastic, hard-working and want to be part of a growing team.   They should share our values and outlook on providing a superior product and customer service.

Interpersonal and people skills are also important, as franchisees deal with customers as well as lead a team on a daily basis.  In addition to excellent written and spoken communication skills, the best franchisees are organisers with a can-do attitude – they are people who get things done.  Franchisees need to be as dedicated and passionate as us and also able to adapt to a proven way of working.   The desire to roll-up sleeves up and get stuck in, which means everything from making pizza through to managing staff, also goes a long way!

Therefore, our franchisee recruitment process is detailed and very much a two-way evaluation.  First, we meet face-to-face, then suitable candidates are invited to an in-store experience day.  The agenda is carefully designed for them to observe and learn about the culture and values of Papa John’s and also experience how one of our stores is run.

We minimise the numbers of people we invite to HQ to ensure they receive individual attention and importantly we can get to know them.  It means they get a real taste for what has made Papa John’s so successful and what it really takes to run a franchised store.

At each stage of the recruitment process the franchisee and our team at Papa John’s ensure everyone is keen to move forwards.  By the time we get to the business planning and franchisee approval panel interview, everyone should have a very clear idea of what’s expected.   This meeting is the chance for the franchisee to present their business plan and show they have completed their own due diligence and homework, particularly on the financial aspect of their business.  It’s the chance to shine and there is no limit to the research the candidate can undertake.

Although we provide a business planning template all the work and research that goes into this plan must come from the franchisee.  It is not often franchisees get turned down at this point, but it does happen occasionally.   It is in our interests, and those of the franchisee, that they are successful.  So, in the cases where potential franchisees are not approved, it is a team decision and we only say no after careful consideration and for the right reasons.


Busy franchise store opening

Insufficient research (you need to have done much more than tried-out Papa John’s pizza!),  plus the inability to take advice on board, will occasionally result in a failed proposal.  Unfortunately, the recruitment team do have to say no to a small number of candidates who are not able to demonstrate the required qualities and competency needed to represent our brand and grow with us.

On the other hand, the feedback we get from candidates is that the business plan process cements their initial interest and provides a critique on the opportunity.  Presenting their research confirms the value of the opportunity.  We also find that to be put under a little pressure to present is no bad thing and the fact that the candidate has invested a great deal of time into the presentation means that they are serious and it is what they want.

Franchisees who take our guidance, show an appreciation for the principles and values of the business are the ones that are approved to more forwards.  If they show a dash of creativity, then all the better!  We are looking for some positive personal traits, competency in business and a demonstration of that competency to ensure success.  We want to give everyone a chance the opportunity to shine.  We are looking for capable and enthusiastic individuals who will go-on to become successful multi-store owners and so they must show initiative but be willing to work with us and take advice too.

As one of the largest pizza companies in the world, Papa John’s has opportunities for franchisees throughout the UK.  Help is provided with location selection and full turn-key opening of stores.  As a franchise, the Company supplies all the assistance needed to get your successful Papa John’s up and running.


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Article by: Phil Gaffer, Franchise Sales and Business Development Manager