As the effects of COVID-19 began to hit globally, and restaurants were ordered to close, Papa John’s thrived. This success occurred mainly because of Papa John’s new CEO Rob Lynch. Lynch came over to Papa John’s from Arby’s, where he was president and helped the company’s sales increase tremendously.
Although it helped that pizza delivery restaurants were allowed to remain open in most places, there was still stiff competition from other well-known pizza chains, especially one in particular. However, Lynch applied strategies and made innovations that helped propel the chain into one of the leading two pizza chains in the world.
How Product Innovation Helped Papa John’s Succeed Despite COVID-19
One of the focuses of Papa John’s CEOwas product innovation. Since he took over in 2019, he has helped the company introduce numerous new food items that have been extremely popular. Some of the changes related to the crust itself. The first innovated items under his wing was launched just six weeks after he took over as CEO. This item was the garlic parmesan crust. Another pizza crust innovation was the epic stuffed crust, which has become a popular item.
Another food introduction helped the company before and during the pandemic. This was the papadias, which helped improve lunch business for the company. These hand-held sandwiches are filled with yummy toppings, and they come in a variety of flavors such as BBQ chicken bacon, Philly cheesesteak, grilled buffalo chicken, Italian, meatball pepperoni, and double cheeseburger. All of them come with dipping sauces on the side.
Papa John’s continues to introduce new menu items to mix things up. Depending on a store’s location, some of these items may include pepperoni and 505 Hatch chile pizza, Hawaiian BBQ chicken pizza, jalapeno cheesesticks, bacon cheesesticks, and green chile cheesesticks.
Strategies Rob Lynch Implemented to Make Papa John’s Successful
With Rob Lynch as Papa John’s CEO, the company was allowed to make some changes that were not allowed by previous CEOs. One of these was the rule that you could not change the crust at all. Lynch told the marketing team, franchise owners, and workers that it is ok to do things differently, and adding crust variations was an example of this.
Papa John’s slogan has always been ‘better ingredients, better pizza,’ and this was one strategy Lynch refused to change. While some wanted him to lower prices to compete with another pizza chain, Lynch indicated he would not sacrifice quality for value. Even though ingredients, such as wheat, tomatoes, olives, and others, cost more than competitors, Papa John’s is still able to offer affordable food while keeping the quality the same as it has always been.
This focus on better ingredients influenced the company’s marketing strategy. Rather than being founder-focused, as they were previously, advertisements became food-focused, showing why the ingredients are unique, special, and better.
While other restaurants are still struggling due to COVID-19, Papa John’s has made changes, focused on product innovation, and instilled strategies that equal success for the company. Much of this is thanks to the new CEO.