Papa John’s is still struggling, but can’t blame NFL for it

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When Cowboys owner Jerry Jones battled NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last year, former Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter slipped into the ring and smacked Goodell with a chair. (Goodell would eventually throw Papa John into a turnbuckle, before slamming Jerry onto the mat for a three count.)

Schnatter tried to blame his company’s financial problems on the NFL generally and, specifically, on the anthem controversy. The argument lacked merit at the time (some owners believed Jones cajoled Schnatter into doing it), and intervening events show that Papa John’s problems continue, months after ending its relationship with the league.

Via Bloomberg.com, a new quarterly earnings report unveiled Tuesday showed a year-to-year sales drop of 5.3 percent for the company’s North American operations.

So Papa John’s business struggles go far deeper than the NFL, if the NFL deserved any blame in the first place. Now, the NFL and Pizza Hut move forward with a new partnership; chances are that the relationship ultimately will boost Pizza Hut’s business.

It doesn’t hurt that Pizza Hut makes surprisingly good pizza. I recommend the online-only deal that includes two medium pizzas for $5.99 each. Get one with pepperoni and bacon on thin crust, and one with hand-tossed parmesan crust, and chicken and pepperoni toppings.

68 responses to “Papa John’s is still struggling, but can’t blame NFL for it

  1. Papa John’s problem is that they have made a mockery of pizza. I have never heard anyone ever say “hey let’s order some Papa John’s”. Never.

  2. Ok it’s pretty obvious our country is waking up. Papa John’s pizza sucks and there are smaller mom & pops doing a much better pie. Kind of like the micro beer industry, peeps are figuring out that Bud Light sucks and getting the micro beers.

  3. Perhaps the best you’ve offered up in awhile, Mike….chuckling over here, thanks.

  4. I worked for Papa Johns. P.O.S system this greedy man has developed. He Keeps a nice big chunck of the delivery fee that’s suppose to go to drivers for mileage. If you drive 1 block or 20 blocks, you get the same delivery fee % which isn’t good to begin with. He cares more about his Shareholders than employers. Get this. He added a thing called “papa priority” which for a few bucks more, your order will go to the top of the list. Next in line to be delivered. Ahead of the first call first serve people. Drivers don’t even get a piece of that ” papa priority” . Basically what “papa priority” does is raise the customer’s delivery fee and guess what, they are less willing to tip now. They think Drivers keep all of it. So Johnny now keeps a big chunck of the delivery fee, all of the papa priority fee, and of course the sale while the delivery driver only gets a buck for driving a round trip of 20 minutes because customer lives far. You get a better chance at a tip if u take multiple orders to average it out. Anything bad that happens to John is well deserved. Hope your company goes bankrupt! For your 411, tip your delivery driver in any business please! You should hear some of the bar stories iv’e heard. Don’t upset anyone handling your food. They keep a black book and share it with a co worker. Tip tip tip tip tip! too broke to tip? Go pick it up!

  5. The negative association with the anthem protests could have kickstarted a decline or accelerated one that was starting to happen.
    Once things start downhill, it hard to arrest that decline without major changes to marketing/management/product.
    Those changes for the most part have not occurred so the slide continues. Papa Johns has been slow to adapt to new technology for ordering.
    The whole anthem protest and their very visible association with the league certainly didn’t help.

  6. they’re struggling cuz their Pizza sucks I’m surprised they have been around this long!

  7. His product sucks (terrible food and at my PJ’s, the workers stand out front smoking all day = gross) and it was backlash from his anti kneeling crap that hurt, not white folk mad at the NFL.

    Bottom Line: He’s a crap business man

  8. Hey Papa John! Two words: Delivery Fee. You used it as an excuse to raise prices when gas was so expensive and when the gas prices went down you kept it anyway.

  9. i never like papa john pizza but im sure papa used to be a beast. dude needs to go back to his roots and rediscover his passion. its a shame they kicked him and pey pey out the business.

  10. Don’t we always tell the players to keep politics out of football because it will hurt their careers. Guess it works the same for pizza.

  11. Papa John needs to be more aware of his customer base. Rich white dudes aren’t buying cheap pizza but poor people who are more likely to support anthem demonstrations are. I’m always amazed at the number of business owners who put their politics out there. Why risk alienating half your customer base?

  12. Many will try to blame their struggles on a few dudes kneeling during a song, but will anyone blame terrible pizza? I’d say that’s a good starting point.

  13. I’m all for capitalism and making a buck, but regardless if Papa John’s CEO blamed his company’s plummeting sales on the NFL “anthem controversy” or not, it still only cost about $1.50 to make a pizza. So I just don’t feel John Schantter’s pain.

  14. Is this an ad for Pizza Hut? Anyway, product association can last in folks minds long after a change of sponsorship, and the drop you report covers a year’s data going to before the split and thus also covers when Papas were unhappy about the protesters. And therefore the drop in profits should be seen as evidence Papas may be right about the cause rather than proof they were wrong.

  15. What always amazes me is that the executives of Papa Johns apparently have not eaten their own pizza. If they did they would instantly know why they are losing business.

  16. Pizza Hut has a big presence in Shanghai. I eat there maybe once a year, there’s just too many better options. Also, and I’m not remotely joking, they offer toppings like corn, mayonaise, tuna, and unpeeled shrimp. You can still get some “normal” pizzas, but people around you will be eating those nausea-inducing pies.

    Anyway, what were we talking about? Oh, Papa Johns is in Shanghai too. Truly awful stuff. I used to begrudgingly order it on Tuesdays, when they are 40% off, but still, not worth it. Now we also have Joe’s Pizza, of NYC fame. Really good but also expensive. ~ $5 a slice, around $33 for a 20″.

    I also have Home Slice just up my block, they are good too but charge $3 for a 12oz coke, the jerks.

  17. Pizza hut may be greasy, but it’s still better than papa John’s. That being said I usually don’t order from either of them anyway. Especially when we have little Sicily in jersey.

  18. I make better pizza than either of those stores at home using dough I can get at the grocery store. You can as well. About the same amount of time it takes to call in an order. No tip required.

  19. The Pizza industry is one of the biggest scams out there. It’s dirt cheap to make a pie whether if a chain store or a mom and pop, it’s a scam. Luckily more people are realizing that if you get two 5.00, self rising, grocery store pizzas and doctor them up yourself how you like them it’s actually better and cheaper. Plus frozen, you can actually put them on the grill and bbq it in the summer and it’s awesome. Forget the whole pizza industry and save your money.

  20. I can’t besmirch The Hut. They took care of us on deployment. Folks call it trash, to us it was a literal slice of America. But I’d still go Dominos for my chain pizza to get my grub on.

  21. Will never forget John Schnatter running around the country like Chicken Little declaring that if Obamacare was passed, it would be the end of Papa John’s. It turns out Schnatter was perfectly capable of doing that himself.

  22. The anti-American protests may not hurt Papa Johns, but it’s hurt the NFL ratings. No matter how much you want to try and spin it otherwise.

  23. filmex2000 says:

    Will never forget John Schnatter running around the country like Chicken Little declaring that if Obamacare was passed, it would be the end of Papa John’s.
    =============================================

    That’s a complete fabrication. He said it would cause the prices to increase. And that happened.

  24. When it comes to crap pizza it’s pretty hard to beat Little Caesar’s. I’ve never had a Papa John’s but if they’re worse than Little Caesar’s then they’re pretty bad.

  25. Papa John’s is better than Pizza Hut. Not saying it is great, but Pizza Hut has been irrelevant for years. Domino’s is average, but they have better branding and better advertising than both of them combined.

  26. Maybe his bottom line is hurting because he treats his employees like garbage and he’s a selfish, greedy, rube from the Republican Party. Crap politicos, crap pizza, papa johns.

  27. If you haven’t tried Jets pizza you should give it a try if there is one near you. It blows away Papa John’s and Pizza Hut.

  28. I have more respect for an entrepreneur who built a huge company from literally nothing than a pencil neck that takes pleasure in him going through a rough patch just because of his politics.

  29. The best pizza out there comes from Broadway Pizza in North Minneapolis. Unfortunately for me, they don’t deliver to Florida.

  30. Papa Johns’ pizza is the same (weather you like it or hate it, it’s still the same) so that’s not what is dropping their sales… something changed to change their sales.

    What changed was the face of their company (Papa Johns) kept making political statements… which people didn’t mind when mild canadates, but with bold candiates upsetting people, the political statements drove some people away. Especially as someone above said, your customers buying the cheaper pizza, are probably most against your political statements…

    Also someone above, suggested that Papa John’s shouldn’t of been let go, he owns the company… and choose to step out (probably as a PR stunt to cool things off)… and he can step back in, probably anytime he wants. And he has done this in the past, stepping out when he gets too much of a backlash.

  31. Our family quit buying Papa Johns when John Schnatter started talking right wing politics. We haven’t bought one since. We never will again.

  32. The Pizza industry is one of the biggest scams out there. It’s dirt cheap to make a pie whether if a chain store or a mom and pop, it’s a scam. Luckily more people are realizing that if you get two 5.00, self rising, grocery store pizzas and doctor them up yourself how you like them it’s actually better and cheaper. Plus frozen, you can actually put them on the grill and bbq it in the summer and it’s awesome. Forget the whole pizza industry and save your money.

    ————————————————————————————-

    Absolutely; I’ve been doing the above for years! As far as pizza chains go, Pizza Hut and Domino’s is far better tasting than Papa John’s and it’s not even close. A diverse group of college students told me last summer that they only order Papa John’s when they’re drunk and can’t taste the pizza! They said to them the taste is horrible and that bad.

  33. jayhawk6 says:
    May 9, 2018 at 6:07 am
    Does any pizza company still offer anchovies?
    ———
    They all do and if you order extra anchovies Patrick Dempsey may show up.

    (If you don’t get that reference you didn’t grow up in the 80’s)

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