Need Advice, PJ's coming to town...

hi all, looking for any ideas or experiences with having a papa johns come into your town. i just found out a few days ago that they’re coming in, so i have about 3-4 months lead time to get everything strategy wise setup that i can.

the town i’m in is pretty much rural, spread out kinda big, but has about 30K people. the only other ‘big boy’ is dominos and they enjoy 22K weeks. our shop has been slowly ramping sales up over the last year and we’re currently hovering around 11K a week.

i’ve already read big dave’s article ‘big boys oming to town’ and can appreciate the info, however its a bit dated information now since the whole 30 minutes or its free thing has been dead for years. so what i’m looking for is specific experiences with a PJ’s coming into your towns. did they try to lock up local hotel room key cards? did they focus on getting school lunch programs? did they do heavy couponing to start out? i understand that they are a big national chain so they grand opening blitz should be fairly scripted, so i’m trying to head them off at the pass as much as i can seeing as i have a few month lead on them and want to take advantage of that as soon as possible

thanks for the input!

Tyson, where are you?

^^^^ ABOVE YOU! :smiley: sorry,bye

rural nevada

Okay, ya tripped me out for a moment there. I’ve got a Papa John’s intrusion going on in my market also. The only difference is the Domino’s WAS averaging around $22k… before I got here.

If you’re hanging around $11k you’ve definitely been doing the job and getting your customer base up. One thing to realize is that when you’ve got a major player like PJ’s coming into town you’re going to take a hit because everybody wants to try them out. You might even lose some ground for a while. However, you’re not going to experience anything like the rude awakening Domino’s is going to get.

  1. Make sure you’re all over every community event you can get your hands on.
  2. Make sure you’ve differentiated yourself from all the other pizza places by offering a quality product the other guys can’t touch.
  3. Stay consistent with product quality and service from now on (you have no idea how much weight this carries). If you deliver, strive to get delivery times under 30 minutes because that will be a major factor once they come to town.

Once they’re in town:

  1. Advertise as normal. Don’t try to overadvertise when they come in, for all you will be doing is wasting your money to try to overcome the inevitable.
  2. If you’ve got school nights set up at your store, set up a few school nights for those first few weeks to help generate additional sales in your store to make up for the sales that are lost.
  3. If you deliver, mandatory car toppers every minute of every shift for drivers and make sure they’re in good working condition and lit up at night.

After 3-4 weeks:

  1. This is when their initial sales start to decline and they start to settle in to what they’re going to average the next 3-6 months.
  2. Set up a marketing strategy now so when this time comes you’ll be more than prepared. Don’t try to come up with a price point strategy, but one that is catered just to you and your business. Maybe an aggressive giveaway or something when customers make a purchase. Line up all the things that have worked for you in the past. Hit the town hard with your marketing from week 4 to week 8.
  3. Maintain product consistency and fantastic service throughout the life of the marketing and beyond.
  4. Most Papa John’s managers are pretty good managers but they tend to be “cookie cutter” types and don’t really think for themselves. Their focus is good service and good food/labor costs. Marketing is left up to the main office… and it will be generic, basic direct mail and bulk mail.

After week 8:

  1. This is when you start blitzing customers with your price point specials. You don’t neccessarily have to undercut PJ’s, but you deifinitely want something that has a great perceived value.
  2. Make sure all marketing is colorful, but not busy.
  3. Remember product consistency and fantastic service.

This should actually get you better sales than you’re getting now if you play your cards right.

These are just my thoughts. I’m sure there are other plans out there and I, also, would love to hear any suggestions from operators who’ve experienced a Papa John’s intrusion in the past. And remember, if all else fails… cut their phone lines. :lol:


i read somewhere that an independent operator had one of these big boys come to town and they were hit pretty hard. so they ran a promotion: clip out and bring in the big boy’s ad from your phone book and get a free pizza or whatever you are willing to sacrifice. I guess its kind of a dirty trick but you gotta make a living right? I don’t know if i’d do it myself but hopefully i won’t have to worry about it in my little town.

to expand a little on J_rokk my feeling is you have to take the hit the first 3-4 weeks heavy advertising will be a waste… i feel the important thing is not to reduce your prices because then your customers will expect you to keep lowering to keep up with papa johns… hold your ground and once week 4 hits like j_rokk said then go in for the kill… if you lower yourprices your gunna drown

thanks for the tips j_r0kk, i’m not sweating it too much…i just want to get them out of their comfort zone as much as i can so they have to re-maneuver themselves.

for instance, i just checked out and it looks like its their standard thing to get their ads onto the local keycards for hotels…so i sent in a request to get exclusive in my market for that…hopefully they havent locked our town up with that yet…if i can get that squared away, i think that would put a damper on their plans when they go to do their usual bag of tricks to then find out they’ve been shut out…not to mention i’ve been wanting to go after hotel business i little more anyway

i’ve got the black book system as well, just havent had time to get the letters setup and get them going out yet…biz has been ramping up slowly and steadily…which is the way i want it, as i am a firm believer in that you only get one chance to make a first impression, and i want that first time for all my customers to be excellent

hoping we hear some other experiences from folks that have gone through a PJ invasion…i’m curious as to what they really go for first…radio? tv? mailers? inflatable monkey? haha


forgot to add a funny tidbit…i did some sleuthing and found out the name of the guy thats opening the PJ’s in my town…did a little check on the secretary of state’s website to get an address and such…turns out he’s ordered from us 5 times in the last month…haha

i think more than once or twice isnt sampling the competition anymore… :slight_smile:

Tyson, he’s not sampling, he is trying to steal your drivers.

I worked for Dominos Pizza for 15 years and Papa Johns for one year before opening up my own chain. I opened up three Papa John’s stores in the year I worked for them, and I learned some new ideas, and I honed my learned skills from DPI.

If you know who he is. Flag his name, and next time he orders take the delivery yourself. He probably already knows who you are, cause my guess is he has been into your store several times trying to steal your employees. When you meet him, tell him enough is enough. Go pick on Dominos.

I echo the marketing suggestions of the others. However, you should be boxtopping, and doorhanging, and throw out the tag line “We Honor Any Other Pizza Delivery Companies Coupons” cause PJ likes to do a little deep discounting for the first six months to a year. My average opening was about $14,000 a week for the first period, and then a steady 1 to 2% weekly rise over the next year.

You need to tell you current employees who may have been enticed to come over to PJs. That PJ is doing a Cattle Call, they will hire everyone, and will cream the crop after about 4 weeks. The turnover in the beggining for me may have been upwards of 400% cause we found that the employees we stole were usually the ones that were on there way out anyhow.

Oh yeah, Lock your dumpsters.

Develop fundraisers with your Elementaries, Middle Schools, and High Schools Pronto!!! Cause I guarantee you they are working on it right now.

We used to get affiliated with the Elementaries first, doing school nights, we also had a door-to-door group of sales people go out and sell a coupon packet with three free pizza a 16", a 12", and a 10", a free order of Breadsticks, and a free order, or cheesebread. Plus the book had 20 BOGO coupons, and Several $4.00 off, $3.00 off, and $2.00 off. We sold these Booklets that had a magnet on them so they could stick to the fridge for a $20. All this money would go to the Elementaries PTA, which would earn us more favor with them.

In most of my situations we would lose money the first period(maybe $20,000), Breakeven the second period, and profit ($15,000 to $20,000) the third Period.

Protect you hard drives, and your customers list, I guarantee he maybe working one of your key employees into stealing your customer database. I did it all the time. Oh yeah did I already tell you to lock your dumpsters.

PJs is firmly planted in a head to head battle with Pizza Hut, and Dominos. If your product focus is mainstream, you might consider, moving to the topside of the market, and add some gourmet toppings to your list. So as to differentiate yourself from them.

pardon me, i’m new. what do you mean by “school rights”?

thanks for all that info tommie, its good to hear it straight from someone that’s done it before.

i don’t think he’s made any approaches towards my drivers…i’ve got a pretty tight nit group of staff, and i think they would have told me if they were trying to be headhunted…however, there’s really no way i can be certain, so thanks again for making me aware of that.

what could he be getting from my dumpster? anything important, i shred, so my dumpster truly only has trash in it…or is there something else i’m missing?

could you elaborate on the ‘school night’ thing? i’m not familiar with it

my product is somewhat mainstream, in that i have the familiar items most consumers would expect from a pizzeria, but i lean towards the high end already doing specialty pizzas that nobody else does locally, so i’m known for being the ‘higher end’ place already…but i dont mind changing things up to get into the thick of it.

from your experience, do you think PJ is going to be going after dominos more specifically than say a local shop like me, or are their tactics just blanket moves to get market share period?

From dumpsters: customer receipts, pizza ticket discards, order invoices, payroll and inventory reports that may end there . … . you would be amazed what will be found.

PLUS, in my town we had to lock them because people would come and fill up dumsters with their stuff instead of renting their own. Man, that still chaps my butt.

just wanted to drop back in and give an update. PJ’s is about a week away from their opening now. i dont understand this guy really…he went doorhanging about a week ago…mind you, they’re not open yet and the phone number listed on the doorahangers just rings with no PBX answer or anything. needless to say, we’ve been slammed with added business due to his doorhanging. i cant figure out for the life of me why you would doorhang for a business that isnt open yet :?:

anyway, so still no giant infaltable monkey out front of their place or any ad pieces i’ve seen come out. i’ve got some contractor friends that are working on the PJ buildout and from what they’re saying, they’re now about 1 week away from opening. says they’re going to be giving away free pizza for two days or something like that.

i’ve got some lazy customer post cards that are geared towards getting people back that may have tried another pizza place. think i should pre-emptive strike PJ’s and just start sending them out en mass this thursday to start getting people back in? i dont have alot of anything else really planned, as most of my business comes from word of mouth, and the fact that we’ve been here since 1983. hoping our longevity gives us a bit better loss rate than say dominos is going to have. just want to have something in place to be doing besides watching their cars go by, ya know?

I ve always put up posters on telephone pole in my delivery radius that make outragous claims against them. Like, “Dominos uses rat droppings for meatballs” another idea i read about is starting a website papajohnsrippedmeoff .com or something like that. on the site you can detail how they screwed you on an order or something. The site address can easily be put on an inexpensive bumper sticker.

How pathetic your business skills and product must be.

was hoping to hear something back from j_rokk

Another thing you can do:

You know how radio stations do these long contests where you have to guess something right to win a big prize? You know how McDonald’s latest success has been the Monopoly game? Maybe something like this will get things stirred up a little bit.

Here’s another one Big Dave did that plugs into the radio station/McDonalds ideas:

He started accepting competitors coupons. At the same time he did a W.W.C.S. (World Wide Coupon Search) in which he honored coupons from all around the world as long as he could translate to English and transfer currency to American dollars. He posted a world map in his lobby and each time he got a foreign coupon he posted it on the map. At the end of the month he gave a $100 bill to the person who brought in the coupon that was the furthest geographical distance from his shop. This definitely stirred the whole town up.

Wanna take everybody’s minds off P.J.'s? Try a game like this.

The best part:

Taking competitors coupons costs you $0 in advertising.


P.S. Be careful though with the competitors coupons thing. Here’s a true story:

When I was with Domino’s back in 1993ish, I worked for a 3-store franchisee. I had an independent come into my area and he started the whole competitor’s coupons thing. It actually started working and I could see my sales slipping a little. So I said to myself, “Okay, you want to start taking my coupons? I’ll give you some coupons.”

The next day I headed down to Kinko’s and printed up about 100 coupons for 99 cent Large Specialty pizzas. I distributed them to all the employees at my store and the employees at the other two stores in our franchise group (about 60 in all). They were instructed to go to this new independent shop and redeem their “Domino’s” coupons.

The independent stopped the practice after about a week and a half. I still had the other forty 99 cent coupons left.

I would happily play this coupon game with the big boys. The just better be prepared to recieve the coupons back the next day as I send everyone I know to get their 99 cent specialty pizza. Dominos here tried to get our magnets off peoples fridges by offering some sort of discount or free pie if you brought a competitors magnet in. Didn’t phase me at all as I have put a magnet with every order for years and use them while doorhanging as well. Good luck even getting a small percentage of those off the fridges.

i agree with paul, i dont mind getting down in the game with a major