Can Blaze Pizza Catch Up to the Industry’s Big Players?
If you don’t have a Blaze Pizza restaurant near you, or haven’t even heard of this new brand of pizza, then you need to read on. If you have been to a Blaze Pizza or are an investor, then it is even more important that you read on. There are a growing number of analysts who are seeing Blaze Pizza as the future of pizzerias. Currently there aren’t many challengers to the top three – with Domino’s and Pizza Hut less than a half million dollars in annual sales separating them. Little Caesar’s is $2 billion behind these leaders. So for Blaze to blaze a trail to seriously compete with these pizza monsters will require some innovative branding and marketing.
The numbers have Blaze ringing up sales of almost $300 million for fiscal year 2017, a far cry from the minimum $3 billion needed to threaten the top players. But that number indicates a 51% increase from the previous year, and with more stores planned to open up around the country and around the world, those numbers can ramp up very quickly. More numbers to chew on. There are plans to open 100 new eateries in Arabian countries such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. In the United States and Canada, 66 new Blaze Pizzas are planned, bringing the total number of states served to 36. There are nearly 300 Blaze Pizza open around the country now, which is very good for a business that hasn’t been around for more than a few years.
Now for the critical investor numbers. The average Blaze Pizza franchise brings in $1.4 million of revenue, so multiplying the planned stored with the current number brings the potential annual revenue to more than $650 million. That means the $1 billion mark is not as far away as originally believed. That also presumes the $1.4 million average remains static.
What makes Blaze Pizza such an interesting investor and pizza lover consideration is their approach to pizza-making that will be hard to for their competitors to duplicate. Naturally they use the multi-channel marketing and ordering plan of mobile, online, and brick and mortar availability. What separates them from the pack is they have developed a 3 minute cooking time for pizzas. But these aren’t just any type of pizzas but artisan pizzas with all natural ingredients. Nothing artificial. The trend is towards healthier food while keeping the traditional fast food options, but you can say that Blaze Pizza is a faster food option.
They also offer its customers a choice of 30 different toppings – all for the same price. Unlike the top dogs of the pizza industry where you often pay more for more or different types of toppings, Blaze has found what works is offering an 11 inch pizza with an unlimited number of toppings for about $8. Count patience as one of the founders key personality characteristics as they said in an interview that customers learn more than 5 or 6 toppings is about as good as it gets from a practical view. So it’s likely new customers will try and stack up the toppings, but learn that it’s what makes sense rather than overdoing it.
Their target audience is also mimed at the future, with Millennials and Gen-Zers leading the way. But they have created a venue that works for all ages, choosing to create a restaurant atmosphere that is relaxed while serving up your food in about 15 minutes from order to table. The mobile and freeform lifestyles of their major target groups is one of the biggest influences on the way Blaze Pizza does business. They have created partnerships with GrubHub, Seamless, and DoorDash for delivery options.
If you are wary of franchise-centered businesses for investment, you will want to stay away from Blaze Pizza. They have about 95% of their units franchised. But they are particular about who they offer franchises to, deciding to look for owners who have a solid background in fast food ownership. There is no indication they will turn away from the franchise business model, citing the pizza business is a $45 billion industry. In short, there is plenty of room for newcomers, and there is also plenty of room for innovation.
The company has yet to go public, but its owners make it clear once they have achieved a $1 billion valuation they will seriously consider it. From an investment perspective, interested parties will want to keep an eye on the actual number of patrons. Their average check price is about $14.50 per person. This is regardless of whether the person is eating lunch or dinner because the traffic is divided equally between lunch and dinner at 50 percent.
As for the future, Blaze Pizza is very selective about the real estate they decide on for a store location. They have been able to place a restaurant right next to two established pizza eateries and all three have thrived. This indicates that people want choices in their lives, and so one day they want Pizza Hut and another they will want Blaze. Though their goal of 500 stores is within reach, count on their locations to be where they have the best chance of success.