Approximately 30 percent of Papa John's orders are still placed over the phone.
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Sign of a Papa John's Pizzeria in the downtown district.
Credit: Roberto Machado Noa / Contributor/Getty Images

Last August, Papa John's appointed fast food exec Rob Lynch as its newest president and CEO. The 42-year-old was coming from a successful stint at Arby's, where he was credited with delivering four straight years of same-store sales growth, with driving innovation in its restaurants and on its digital platforms, and with creating that whole "We Have The Meats" thing.

Now more than six months into his role with Papa John's, Lynch says that the company has "removed guardrails" from exploring and developing new ideas, and he says that the Louisville, Kentucky chain's goal is to launch "a new innovation" every two months.

"When we talk about innovation and we talk about five or six big innovations a year, we are talking about more than just adding a new topping to our core pizza,” he said in February. “We are talking about an opportunity to evolve how customers think about our brand and the products that we offer."

So far, those innovations have included a new Garlic Parmesan crust and the recently-launched handheld Papadia… pizza sandwich or saucy quesadilla or whatever you'd like to call it. The next thing on its Innovation List is a call center for all of its telephone orders. According to QSR, "Papa Call" will serve as the chain's centralized order-taking system, in an effort to boost efficiency in each individual restaurant.

"That will eliminate the need for our people in the restaurants to answer the phones which can be a very distracting and challenging dynamic at your busiest time,” Lynch said. “So, it will allow us to more effectively utilize our labor and will result in a better customer experience and fewer drop [sic] calls, because people will not have to be put on hold anymore.” (Teens, it's OK if you need to ask your parents what a phone call is.)

Restaurant Business reports that only about 30 percent of Papa John's orders are placed over the phone, but that's apparently still enough to slow things down; Lynch told the outlet that phone calls can affect everything from delivery time to how quickly each pizza is placed in the oven. Papa Call is currently being rolled out, and all Papa John's restaurants are expected to have access to the system by the end of the year.

Another of the chain's efficiency-boosting strategies is a dough-spinner that can complete an estimated 80 percent of the process of rolling out and stretching the pizza dough. The spinner shaves between 30 and 40 seconds off the time it takes to make a pie, and it also makes each pizza more consistent. But Lynch says that existing Papa John's workers shouldn't feel threatened by their new mechanical coworker.

"It’s not really a function of taking labor out of the restaurant,” he said. “It improves our ability to reallocate labor to some of the challenges we have—primarily driving—and to be able to improve our throughput during busier times."

Please let us know when Papa Call is available because we're hoping that someone can explain exactly what a Papadia is.