In January 2018, Steve Ritchie stepped into the role of President and Chief Executive Officer of Papa John’s International Inc. With more than 23 years working his way up the ladder at Papa John’s, Ritchie has the inside knowledge and industry expertise that qualifies him for this important role. Papa John’s sits in the third position in a list of the world’s largest pizza delivery companies. The company includes 5,000 franchised locations in countries around the world and has approximately 120,000 employees globally.
The company’s incredible success can be attributed to its unwavering pledge to use the freshest ingredients in all of its foods. It also has a stellar reputation for providing exceptional customer service. In fact, it maintains the motto of “People Are Priority Always.” For almost two decades, Papa John’s has had the top rating for customer service by a pizza delivery company via the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Clearly, Ritchie took the reins at a time when Papa John’s was almost at the top of its game.
After Ritchie assumed control of the helm, the company unfortunately experienced some heat in the media as well as with customers. Showing his profound leadership skills as wells as his professionalism in stressful situations, Ritchie announced that all employees around the world would be responsible for completing diversity training, and this includes training in the area of unconscious bias awareness.
Steve Ritchie’s impressive ability to lead Papa John’s International Inc. successfully is also clear through his solid and thoughtful mission for the company’s future. Ritchie refers to sales analytics that indicate more than 60 percent of annual sales worldwide stemming from digital platforms. With this in mind, he has confidently stated his goal to transform the company’s approach to digital marketing and branding. He also wants to focus on bolstering the customer’s online or digital experience.
Ritchie’s history with Papa John’s started in 1996 when he earned $6 per hour as a customer service representative. Papa John’s is proud of the fact that 98 percent of its store locations are managed by individuals who have been promoted from positions as drivers, customer service reps or shift schedule managers. With this in mind, it is not surprising that Ritchie was managing his own Papa John’s store within a few months after joining the company. During his initial months working for Papa John’s, he was aware of the company’s mission to make people a priority. However, he did not fully understand how deeply devoted corporate executives were to this mission until his store received a visit from corporate professionals. During that visit, Ritchie had the chance to discuss the company’s mission, and he clearly understood the passion that upper-level corporate executives had to operate the company under this mission. That specific experience inspired Ritchie to make a career with Papa John’s his professional goal.
Given Ritchie’s unique personal experience with the “people first” mentality, it is not surprising that he has emphasized the company’s ongoing focus in this area. After stepping into the CEO role, Ritchie drafted a letter to all employees highlighting the importance of this mission and motivating employees to always put their best foot forward.
Ritchie has spent more than two decades of his life learning about the pizza delivery business by working in various management and executive positions over the years. He even spent some time as a franchise owner to gain a unique perspective on all aspects of doing business with Papa John’s. Ritchie has worked hard to further his career at Papa John’s, and his exceptional experience, industry knowledge and passion to live by the company’s guiding principles provide peace of mind that the company is in the hands of a strong leader.