Papa Johns

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2024 Franchise 500 Rank
#24 Ranked #37 last year
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Initial investment
$189K - $975K
Units as of 2023
5,968 Increase 11.6% over 3 years

Papa John’s Franchise

If you had to pick one food that will be as popular in the future as it is today, pizza is a good bet. Starting your own pizza brand can take a ton of time and money, but luckily, there are other options to jumpstart success. 

You can start a Papa John’s franchise and hit the ground running as a new business owner in the quick-service restaurant (QSR) industry.

Papa John's doesn't focus on dine-in restaurants, unlike many other pizza franchises. Instead, it specializes in delivery and take-out pizza. 

Because of this unique focus, it has cornered the pizza delivery market in more ways than one, enabling franchise owners (just like you, potentially) to flourish and focus on providing customers with delicious, piping-hot pizza on time.

At the time of this writing, Papa John's is looking for outgoing, driven franchisees with some retail or management experience. 

With the right mindset and drive, you can open up a Papa John's restaurant for less than $300,000 in upfront costs (depending on your location) and take full advantage of the brand's loyal customer base and overall brand awareness.

Not sure where to start? Read on to learn more.

Why should you start a Papa John’s franchise?

Naturally, brand recognition is one of the biggest reasons to start a Papa John’s Pizza franchise. 

Papa John’s, founded by “Papa” John Schnatter in Jefferson, Indiana, is arguably one of the biggest and most widely recognized pizza chains, competing with brands like Pizza Hut.

Related: Papa John's Founder: 'I Am the American Dream' 

However, Papa John’s’ focus on delivery and take-out pizza allows it to specialize in a way that other pizza chains, such as Domino’s, have not.

Related: Papa John's And Domino's Both Consolidating After Strong YTD Rallies 

Specialization is the name of the game in a crowded, competitive industry like pizza, and this has resulted in Papa John's units dominating the delivery market. When people need delicious pizza picked up or delivered fast, they often turn to Papa John's since their local restaurant can assemble the perfect pie in no time.

However, other great reasons exist to consider starting a Papa John’s franchised restaurant. For instance, there’s no franchise fee to worry about (see more below about associated costs). Papa John’s also reduces the royalties you’ll pay over several years.

When you sign on as a franchisee, you'll get a set of ovens to reduce your operating expenses and initial costs. 

In addition, Papa John's provides ample support resources and training programs to ensure your franchise business is ready to thrive immediately.

Does Papa John’s offer franchisees territory exclusivity? 

There’s another good reason to start your franchise with Papa John’s: territory exclusivity.

When you sign a Franchise Agreement with Papa John’s, Papa John’s will not locate another standard restaurant within 1.5 miles or so of your restaurant (the exact radius will depend on your Franchise Agreement specifics). This can be advantageous in many dense urban areas.

Put your restaurant in the right location, and you can gain access to a concentrated group of potential customers. It’s the same with other fast-food franchises, although some, like Arby’s, have different rules.

On the downside, you can’t relocate your restaurant at any time without getting written consent from the franchisor, Papa John’s corporate. 

This doesn’t usually happen, so you’ll want to make sure that you choose the perfect location for your restaurant the first time. Papa John’s will help you find a location if you don’t have any experience in this arena.

Related: Getting Into the Growing Business of Fast-Casual Pizza

What support and resources does Papa John’s offer franchisees?

Should you launch a Papa John’s franchise, you’ll benefit from many support resources.

First up is marketing. Papa John’s supports all franchisees' marketing efforts by providing templates for advertisements, national and regional advertising advice and even social media advertising help.

Related: Papa John's Has Created a Social Media Ad Featuring Negative Customer Tweets That's Been Watched 1.7 Million Times 

Email marketing, plus website development assistance, will help you reach online customers faster and more successfully than ever. To facilitate brand loyalty, all franchisees can access the Papa John’s loyalty program and app.

Even though Papa John’s restaurants aren’t usually sit-in, that doesn’t mean you won’t need any support. Therefore, franchisees can benefit from grand opening support, plus online support with corporate if you ever have a question.

You'll get site selection support in the earliest days of your restaurant’s operation. As you continue to run your store, the proprietary software and toll-free line will give you a direct line to corporate whenever needed.

How much does starting a Papa John’s franchise cost?

When starting a Papa John’s franchise for the first time, you’ll need to foot some initial money to pay for the construction and training that goes into building a new restaurant.

From time to time, Papa John’s offers special financial incentives for new franchisees, even including waving the initial franchise fee of $25,000. 

The franchise fee is still required at the time of writing, but it could vanish again if Papa John’s decides to run another recruitment drive for its franchising program.

Regardless, you’ll need to make an initial investment of between $200,000 and nearly $789,000. The total investment you’ll need to make will depend on your location and restaurant details. To ensure you can afford all of this, Papa John’s requires that all franchisees have a net worth of $750,000 or more and $200,000 in cash.

Once your restaurant is running, you can take advantage of reduced royalty fees over six years. You don't have to pay royalty fees for the first year and a half. 

For the next year and a half or 18 months, you only have to pay a 1% royalty fee. Eventually, the royalty fees reach a total of 5% per year, but that's still relatively low compared to other franchising opportunities.

Your net sales may allow you to open other Papa John’s locations, including franchise locations and business opportunities abroad.

However, the ad royalty fee is a little high, measuring in at 8%. It’s all in the disclosure document. The term agreement’s standard length is 10 years, and you can renew the terms of your agreement if you like running your Papa John’s restaurant.

Does Papa John’s provide franchisees with financial assistance?

Good news if you can’t afford the costs to start a Papa John’s restaurant up front; it has plenty of relationships with third-party lending resources. 

Through these resources, you can get financing to cover your franchise fee, equipment and other startup costs.

What training is required to start a Papa John’s franchise?

To make sure you are prepared to run your Papa John’s franchised location successfully, you’ll have to complete some training.

Papa John’s provides all the needed initial training for your restaurant's operation by teaching you and a new management team. 

Specifically, you’ll need to complete the new team member orientation or NTO training and be certified in at least three of the seven available operations stations. 

The program takes about six weeks to complete, and a typical week of training is about 50 to 55 hours of training and instruction.

Luckily, most of your training will occur on the job or at a Papa John’s certified training restaurant. When your restaurant is open to the public, you’ll feel right at home putting together pizzas, taking orders and handling other elements of the business.

The classroom training only takes about 25% of your total training hours. Note that you’ll also need to attend one week of training at Papa John’s University, at least if you choose to operate as the principal operator for your franchise (i.e., the primary manager).

If you need help training new employees, Papa John’s will help you with that. You can send new employees or your subsidiary managers to additional training locations.

Related: Papa John's Launches Program to Help Employees Pay for College

In total, this training is about 239 hours of on-the-job training and 75 hours of classroom training.

Start a Papa John’s franchise today

Anyone can become a business owner and jump into the pizza industry starting today with a Papa John’s franchise. Consider signing up to become a franchisee today.

Check out Entrepreneur’s other guides and articles for more information about Papa Johns's and other franchise opportunities.

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Company Overview

About Papa Johns

Industry Food
Related Categories Pizza
Founded 1985
Parent Company Papa John's Inc.
Leadership Rob Lynch, CEO
Corporate Address 2002 Papa John's Blvd.
Louisville, KY 40299
Social Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok

Business Overview

Franchising Since 1986 (38 years)
# of employees at HQ 570
Where seeking

This company is offering new franchises throughout the US.

This company is offering new franchises worldwide.

# of Units 5,968 (as of 2023)

Information for Franchisees

Here's what you need to know if you're interested in opening a Papa Johns franchise.

Financial Requirements & Ongoing Fees

Here's what you can expect to spend to start the business and what ongoing fees the franchisor charges throughout the life of the business.

Initial Franchise Fee Information Circle
Initial Investment Information Circle
$188,615 - $975,415
Net Worth Requirement Information Circle
Cash Requirement Information Circle
Royalty Fee Information Circle
Ad Royalty Fee Information Circle
Term of Agreement Information Circle
10 years
Is franchise term renewable? Yes
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Financing Options

Some franchisors offer in-house financing, while others have relationships with third-party financing sources to which they refer qualified franchisees.

Third Party Financing Papa Johns has relationships with third-party sources which offer financing to cover the following: franchise fee, startup costs, equipment

Training & Support Offered

Franchisors offer initial training programs and a variety of ongoing support options to help franchisees run their businesses.

On-The-Job Training 239 hours
Classroom Training 75 hours
Ongoing Support
Purchasing Co-ops
Meetings & Conventions
Toll-Free Line
Grand Opening
Online Support
Security & Safety Procedures
Lease Negotiation
Field Operations
Site Selection
Proprietary Software
Franchisee Intranet Platform
Marketing Support
Co-op Advertising
Ad Templates
National Media
Regional Advertising
Social Media
Website Development
Email Marketing
Loyalty Program/App


Additional details about running this franchise.

Is absentee ownership allowed? No
Can this franchise be run from home/mobile unit? Information Circle
Can this franchise be run part time? Information Circle
# of employees required to run 20
Are exclusive territories available? Information Circle
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Franchise 500 Ranking History

Compare where Papa Johns landed on this year's Franchise 500 Ranking versus previous years.

Additional Rankings

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Supplemental education

McAlister's Deli

Sandwiches, salads, baked potatoes

Fully Promoted

Branded products and marketing services

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The information on this page is not intended as an endorsement or recommendation of any particular franchise or business opportunity by Entrepreneur Media. Our listings and rankings are solely research tools you can use to compare opportunities. Entrepreneur stresses that you should always conduct your own independent investigation before investing in a franchise or business opportunity. That should include reviewing the company's legal documents, consulting with an attorney and an accountant, and talking to former and current franchisees/licensees/dealers.
Updated: December 12th, 2022