Forbes – Papa John is having a bad day.
The net worth of John Schnatter, founder and CEO of pizza chain Papa John’s, fell $70 million in less than 24 hours after the company released its third-quarter financial report on Tuesday afternoon. The business beat estimates on earnings and revenue, but it lowered guidance on same-store sales for the coming period…
Schnatter blames part of the downturn on the National Football League, which has faced turbulence amid widespread national anthem protests in the past year. “The NFL has hurt us by not resolving the current debacle,” he said on a conference call on Wednesday. Papa John’s is the league’s official pizza sponsor.
How about the balls on Papa John? Papa John blaming sagging pizza sales on NFL protests would be like the Ninety Nine Restaurant blaming sagging sales on the Dennis Eckersley incident. [Of course that would never happen at the Ninety Nine. Who doesn’t love Gold Fever Wings with a $2 Bud Select?] It’s long past time for Papa John to take a good long look in the mirror and in his recipe book.
Domino’s Pizza has had a resurgence over the last ten years. Their stock closed at $2.83 per share on November 20, 2008. At the start of trading today, their stock was at $178.44 per share. That’s an increase of more than 6,000%. What happened? Domino’s realized there were problems. Their recipes were stale and their service was subpar. Just as bad, they weren’t “cool.” So they very publicly reworked and improved their pizza recipes in 2009. They tweaked their menu. They introduced the Pizza Tracker. They were no longer the company with delivery drivers allegedly killing people on the roads to deliver pizzas in 30 minutes. They became a hip, self-deprecating company, a social-media darling that served affordable pizza in tough economic times.
Papa John’s has had no such soul searching. Their pizza tastes the same today as it did the first time I had it in college. At least then I could pay for it with
convenience points my dad’s money instead of my own hard-earned income. Today I won’t even consider ordering Papa John’s unless the local team won the night before and it’s 50% off. Otherwise it’s $14.99 (plus tax) for a large pepperoni.
You’ll never realize the criminal mark up on pizza until you see what it goes for when it’s 50% off a few times a week. Why not just make a large three-topping pizza $7.99 all day every day like Domino’s? Cut out the gimmicks. Those “better” ingredients can’t be that much more expenses.
There’s also the problems with Papa John himself. Maybe a whiny rich guy who doesn’t want to pay more taxes shouldn’t be the mascot for a low-end pizza chain.
Sounds like you’ve got a “you” problem, Papa John. Why don’t you go figure it out yourself and leave your business partners out of it. I can’t believe I am going to stick up for Roger Goodell here, but there are enough things that he has screwed up in the past year and deserves the blame for. Sagging sales of your shitty, overpriced pizza are not one of them.