Why trust and transparency is key to successful international collaboration

Papa Johns' journey may have begun in a broom cupboard in Indiana in the early 1980's, but rapid global expansion and success has since followed.

Why trust and transparency is key to successful international collaboration

Papa Johns’ journey may have begun in a broom cupboard in Indiana in the early 1980’s, but rapid global expansion and success has since followed.  We now have over 5,500 stores in more than 40 international markets, and those numbers continue to grow.  As a global brand and leader in the QSR franchised space, our international presence is powerful, but as we continue our growth it is important that we pay close attention to local market nuances to ensure that our offering translates across borders. To ensure success over the years, we have learned that trust and transparent communications between teams across our markets is key to unlocking successful international growth.

Our international leadership team is based here in the UK at our Milton Keynes office. This move a few years ago, has ensured we have been able to integrate more closely with our friends in the US as we look to expand into new territories at pace.

Whilst there are a variety of things that you need to consider in order to be a successful brand operating across multiple markets, I feel that having a transparent knowledge sharing culture with the adaptability to flex global learnings for the needs of individual markets is key in delivering a truly global brand.

Openly sharing market insights and best practices enables the brand to build its operating capability across the globe, and it also helps to find solutions to challenges in individual markets that unlocks growth. At times, it may be appropriate to lift and shift relevant tools and processes by region, and equally not, but these decisions require high levels of trust between markets to ensure we balance both the needs of local consumer bases against the brand standards that have supported the brand’s expansion so far.

Alongside trust and transparency, a global model also requires strong partnerships and communication channels.  As we continue to accelerate our growth, it’s been necessary to nurture this element of close communication between relevant stakeholder groups.  At Papa Johns, we have achieved this by creating a streamlined international structure, and we ensure that individuals in each market continue to build relationships with mirroring functions across borders.  Frequent communication between international counterparts creates strong organisational synergy, ensures that teams remain strategically aligned, and also provides the ability to leverage shared resource between respective functions.

Zoom and Teams calls are certainly our friend in achieving this!  Virtual meetings allow us to connect more frequently both on a tactical and strategic level with other markets, meaning we can consistently maintain momentum across key workstreams. However, it is equally important that face-to-face meetings happen on a regular basis too, as they both strengthen relationships and enable us to discuss business priorities in more depth. There are regular visits between the UK and the US every quarter, and this works well in nurturing bonds between teams whilst ensuring the delivery of our global strategic objectives.

In the UK we naturally have a finite level of resources compared to our US business, so being able to lean on our counterparts in Atlanta and Louisville where necessary can be hugely advantageous.  Close communication about what we are working on in each market also ensures that we avoid any unnecessary duplication of workstreams.

By having strong relationships, it also ensures a deeper understanding of how each local market can differ, and equally how that can impact or change the way you need to approach your business operation in that market. For example, as our UK business has developed, our US colleagues have been able to gain a more in-depth understanding around compliance in this country which is drastically different to that of US regulations in certain areas. So as we expand further, the need to balance the knowledge from our existing markets alongside the requirements of new territories will be vital in ensuring we continue to grow successfully.

In order to build the momentum of our brand’s ambition, a flexible approach to our business model is also needed between international stakeholder groups to support the demands of each market.  There are similarities and differences across all markets, so constantly learning what works or doesn’t, and evolving our approach based those learnings means we can be more agile in unlocking the potential of each market through bespoke market plans.

In summary, to ensure successful international collaboration between cross-market teams, there should be complete alignment to both your global and local strategic priorities, which are supported by close working relationships that are built on transparency and trust.  This type of organisational culture not only enables teams to feel empowered to make the right decisions for their market, but it fuels your organisations growth.

Lee Reed
Lee Reed