Fastest-Growing Franchise Chain in America Blaze Pizza Reveals Benefit of Having a Superstar Investor
Blaze “Fast Fire’d” Pizza, the “little” pizza chain that could, is not so little anymore after being named the fastest growing franchise chain in America by Yahoo! Finance. Blaze Pizza was founded in 2011 in Pasadena, California, by Rick and Elise Wetzel of Wetzel’s Pretzels fame, and slowly grew to 10 units in 2014 and then 50 units by the end of 2014 in the U.S. and Canada. From one unit to 50 units in 4 years is certainly growth but not astronomical growth.
According to Yahoo! Finance, the pizza chain now has 105 units and is reporting that it tripled sales to $101 million in 2015 compared to the previous year. Additionally, same-store sales increased 7% in the same time period which is a huge selling point for more prospective franchisees. Even more impressive, Blaze Pizza has committed to open 343 franchise units in 39 states.
With hopes of becoming one of the top 5 pizza chains in America (after Dominos, Pizza Hut, Papa Johns, and Little Caesars), Blaze Pizza is certainly a leader in the choose-your-own topping, quick serve pizza bar franchise concept with other successful and growing franchise chains including 1000 Degrees Pizza, YourPie, PiveFive Pizza, Live Basil Pizza, Pizza Rev, Project Pie, Uncle Maddios Pizza Joint, etc.
With all of these custom-built pizza concepts with solid infrastructures and a high-quality product fighting for market share, what makes Blaze Pizza stand out? Two words: Meet Ron (or one hashtag #MeetRon).
In 2012, NBA superstar and champion (with the Miami Heat) Lebron James bet on Blaze Pizza as one of its original investors, and it’s paying off for this pizza chain in a big way. King James, as “Ron,” has recently sent Blaze Pizza into the stratosphere with this viral marketing video:
This begs the question: Should startup franchisors in a crowded space actively seek out celebrities with star power to separate them from the pack? Blaze Pizza is making it hard for startup franchisors to say “no” to this question. It will likely cost franchisors equity in their brands but, at the end of the day, startup franchise companies like Blaze Pizza have used it to gain a significant market share of a billion-dollar industry and to sell an unbelievable number of franchise units across the country. Who doesn’t like pizza? And you can get it hot and made-to-order in minutes? Yes, please.
Other franchise companies have gone the celebrity route to find success with franchise sales, including Miami Grill (formerly Miami Subs) with Pitbull and Wingstop with Rick Ross. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that franchise unit sales increase with more brand recognition, and there’s nothing better than to have a well-liked, global marketing powerhouse like Lebron James on your team.
Wasch Raines LLP represents both franchisees and franchisors that are included in this article. Our franchise practice includes cost-effective representation of franchise companies and launching franchise concepts from the ground up by preparing the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD), franchise agreement, and the necessary registration paperwork for each state that requires it. We offer free franchise consults and recommend to any individual or company looking to purchase a franchise that they first contact an experienced franchise attorney in their area.
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