A Behind the Scenes Look at Papa Johns Management

With the downfall of Papa Johns namesake and founder, John Schnatter, in 2018, the pizza chain suffered financially. However, when new Papa Johns CEO Rob Lynch took over in 2019, things drastically changed for the better. His management style, marketing, and innovation has helped the company not only rebound, but also set records.

Who is Rob Lynch?

Before becoming the new Papa Johns CEO, Rob Lynch had leadership roles at Proctor & Gamble, HJ Heinz, and Taco Bell, and he made a name for himself as the president at Arby's. He also had years of experience in consumer-packaged goods and quick service restaurants.

Lynch brought in his own team when he started at Papa Johns and made pivotal changes to the top management of the company. As a result, sales increased, and its stocks rebounded. 

From Arby's to Papa Johns

Rob Lynch started working for Arby's in 2013 as its creative marketing director, and he developed the "we got the meats" marketing campaigns. He also was president of the company's Franchisee Association, and thanks to his ability to make and improve relationships between franchisors and franchisees, there was a growth of new restaurants for the first time in 10 years.

He became president of Arby's in 2017. He led various divisions of the company and greatly contributed to the company's revenue growth.

As a result of how he turned Arby's around, he seemed like the perfect fit for the struggling Papa Johns company. Shortly after news broke about the new CEO, Papa John's stock shares increased more than 4%. By the third quarter of 2020, store sales grew 24%, and revenues increased 17%.

One of the reasons for this growth was the fact that Lynch named Shaquille O'Neal as the brand ambassador. O'Neal was featured in numerous marketing and television campaigns, and he helped bring new items to the menu.

Constantly Reinventing the Menu

Papa Johns has always focused on using high quality ingredients, and that has not changed. One thing the Lynch brings to the table is the ability to use these ingredients in different and creative ways.

One thing that the former CEO was unwilling to make any changes to the original crust. Although this crust is still available, Lynch made bold moves and came up with varying crust options. One of the better-know ones is the stuffed crust, which now has numerous versions including the pepperoni stuffed crust. 

Another innovation was the Papadia, which is an extremely popular menu item. He basically developed a handheld sandwich using the original dough and came up with various flavor combinations, many of which mirror some of the specialty pizzas. Papadia options include BBQ chicken and bacon, Italian, meatball pepperoni, grilled buffalo chicken, and Philly cheesesteak.

Lynch is constantly introducing new menu items, often for a limited time. The ones that customers particularly love end up getting a permanent spot on the menu.

Lynch also made important upgrades to the digital platform and delivery options, which helped drive sales and revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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