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, however, when the company ticked over 300 in November 2018, CEO Jim Mizes didn’t spend a long time patting his back.
“I can be liable for not celebrating where our company is, but really it’s what comes next inside the evolution from the blaze pizza menu to obtain us from 300 to 700 or whatever is next,” said Mizes.
Founders Rick and Elise Wetzel built that growth mindset right to the brand DNA. So even at 176 percent sales growth and 121 percent location growth from 2015 through 2017, it’s all area of the plan.
“We always said right from the start, let’s think and act like we’re a one thousand-restaurant organization,” said co-founder Rick Wetzel. “That meant everything we did from day one, from your numbering systems towards the store design, everything was built so that we might get to one thousand.”
And when anyone could get it done, it’s Rick and Elise, the dynamic Los Angeles duo behind Wetzel’s Pretzels who were both former brand managers at Nestle.
Because the story goes, they wanted pizza for a quick lunch, which just wasn’t available. So that they went along to Chipotle instead for any burrito and got a hearty portion of inspiration, too.
“Just watching that ordering format, we went, ‘Now that is certainly how you will would get pizza at lunch,’” said Elise. “That was the gaping hole. Literally we left that Chipotle and i also 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 explained, ‘Yes we are.’”
The two had been pondering their next act after selling Wetzel’s Pretzels to a private equity firm in 2007, with Wetzel’s again changing hands in 2016. However with that cash inside the bank and also the experience of growing to fsdlws than 300 locations, they knew they had to go fast. Rick will be 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 become qualified to make a run at it, so we said, ‘Lets go,’” said Rick.
From the first conversation, they designed the brand to cultivate at a rapid clip. “We knew it might be competitive and that we knew it would go very, very fast. If someone would own the current market, 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 earlier investment in people, systems, processes along with other growth investments well ahead of the actual restaurant count. Mizes, an experienced franchise executive, came on as CEO when there was just two restaurants. Executive chef Brad Kent was there before the first store opened in 2011, as was a store design team.