The 300-location mark is a pretty big deal in franchising; it’s a milestone that few concepts ever reach. Just 108 franchised brands have grown past the 300 mark. It was a nice milestone at Blaze, but when the company ticked over 300 in November 2018, CEO Jim Mizes didn’t spend too much time patting his back.
“I can be liable for not celebrating where we have been, but really it’s what comes next within the evolution from the blaze pizza prices to obtain us from 300 to 700 or whatever is next,” said Mizes.
Founders Rick and Elise Wetzel built that growth mindset right into the brand DNA. So even at 176 percent sales growth and 121 percent location growth from 2015 through 2017, it’s all portion of the plan.
“We always said right from the start, let’s think and act like we’re a 1,000-restaurant organization,” said co-founder Rick Wetzel. “That meant everything we did from day one, from the numbering systems towards the store design, everything was built so we could easily get to 1,000.”
And if anyone could practice it, it’s Rick and Elise, the dynamic Southern California duo behind Wetzel’s Pretzels who were both former brand managers at Nestle.
Since the story goes, they wanted pizza for any quick lunch, which just wasn’t available. So that they went along to Chipotle instead for a burrito and got a hearty part of inspiration, too.
“Just watching that ordering format, we went, ‘Now that is certainly the way you would get pizza at lunch,’” said Elise. “That was the gaping hole. Literally we left that Chipotle and that i knew. I looked at Rick and said, ‘We’re likely to open https://www.storeholidayhours.org/blaze-pizza-holiday-hours-open-closed-today/ aren’t we?’ He stated, ‘Yes we have been.’”
The two have been pondering their next act after selling Wetzel’s Pretzels to your private equity firm in 2007, with Wetzel’s again changing hands in 2016. However with that cash in the bank as well as the experience of growing to fsdlws than 300 locations, they knew they had to visit fast. Rick is definitely the archetypal idea man who simply can’t sit still as the zen-like Elise charts the brand’s north star. They reached work before their burritos had even digested.
“We happened to get qualified to create a run at it, therefore we said, ‘Lets go,’” said Rick.
From the first conversation, they designed the manufacturer to grow with a rapid clip. “We knew it would be competitive and that we knew it would go very, very fast. If someone would own the marketplace, they would need to move quickly and execute extremely, extremely well,” said Rick.
Keeping that growth from as being a chaotic mess, however, meant an early investment in people, systems, processes as well as other growth investments well ahead of the actual restaurant count. Mizes, a seasoned franchise executive, came on as CEO when there was just two restaurants. Executive chef Brad Kent was there before the first store opened in the year 2011, as was a store design team.