Papa Murphy’s Franchise Review: Jeff and Serenity Miller
Longtime Papa Murphy’s fans experience their entrepreneurial dream despite the pandemic this year.
Longtime Papa Murphy’s fans Jeff and Serenity Miller always wanted to own their own business. They never expected it would happen in the middle of a global pandemic. For the Miller’s, the timing ended up being just right to join their favorite local pizza restaurant as franchise owners.
“It was my favorite pizza long before I owned the place,” says Jeff of the Brookings, South Dakota, store. “As we were going through the franchise process, we were looking back and realized just how many memories we have as a family with Papa Murphy’s. It’s one of those things where a door opens out of nowhere, and you ask God, ‘Can I go this way?’ and He says, ‘Okay,’ so you do, and life changes.”
The couple now own and manage the Papa Murphy’s in Brookings, the fourth largest city in South Dakota. For the more than 23,000 people who live in Brookings, the change in ownership ushers in more convenient online ordering, which couldn’t have happened at a better time as more customers spend more time at home.
How it all started
Officially launched under the name Aabro, LLC (“Aabro” stands for the Millers’ sons, Aaron and Brody), Jeff runs the full-time daily operations of the Brookings store, with his wife Serenity working as a part-time manager.
“We’d had our ear to the ground for a couple of years, staying open to what a business opportunity might look like for Jeff” Serenity says. “Though we definitely didn’t expect to be business owners this year.”
The couple read an email announcement from the Brookings Economic Development Corporation in February with news that would change their lives. The email announced that the Brookings Papa Murphy’s franchise owner was retiring and ready to sell.
“We started looking into it, we began the franchise process, we started signing things, and there was a COVID-19 crisis… and we were like, ‘Well, that’s interesting—now what?’ Turns out restaurant-quality take-and-bake pizza that you can order ahead, pick up, and bring home with you is a really, really great idea for the times we’re in,” Serenity says.
Under Aabro, LLC’s management, online ordering is now available in Brookings, a significant enhancement for the onslaught of customers spending more time at home
What the Millers are bringing to the table
“Online ordering is huge,” Jeff says. “In today’s world, when you want to pick up food, you automatically go online expecting to be able to order.” Prior to their ownership, the Brookings store did not offer the option for online ordering. Jeff & Serenity realized the importance of providing this service for their guests so they immediately implemented Papa Murphy’s online ordering system in the store. “You can order online from your phone before you leave work, and by the time you get to the store, we usually already have your pizza ready for you. So you can just walk in, pick it up, and be on your way home with a fresh dinner for the family that takes less than 15 minutes to bake when you get there. Boom.”
Besides saving time in line, there’s another benefit to online ordering: all chain-wide Papa Murphy’s deals are automatically applied at checkout. Plus, Papa Murphy’s new MySLICE Rewards program went live this spring, allowing Brookings customers to earn rewards for their purchases. Under the Millers’ ownership, the Brookings location is also participating in all Papa Murphy’s limited time specials.
Improving the customer experience is part of the joys of business ownership for Jeff, who is a veteran, along with opportunities to positively impact quality of life for workers and provide jobs for locals. Already, the Papa Murphy’s team in Brookings has doubled with new hires since this summer.
“[Jeff and Serenity] have been all about teamwork and really showcasing our core values. They have been adamant on teamwork and serving the very best to our customers in their community,” says Theo Skipper, Operations Team Member. “They’ve been finding ways to constantly improve, and taking the initiative to go above and beyond has been their mission since day one!”
Jeff and Serenity are deeply connected in the Brookings area, with family roots nearby and 40 years of combined experience in a variety of local settings. Together, their diverse histories bring a wealth of management, hospitality, communications, and leadership experience to back their passion for building up the people around them.
Everything about Papa Murphy’s culture is designed to support meaningful connections, which is why the Miller’s fell in love with the brand. “Papa Murphy’s is very family and community-oriented,” Serenity says. “The entire take-and-bake concept is about cooking scratch-made meals at home without the effort. We really change the way you think about pizza. All the effort we put in allows you more time your family.”
The couple is also excited to be part of a community-minded and service-oriented franchise family. “That’s where our hearts are at,” Jeff adds. “When we learned Papa Murphy’s has an entire program for owners to set up fundraisers to support local organizations, schools and nonprofits, we were like, ‘Um, yeah. This is so us.’”
This fall the Millers are planning their first local online fundraiser to support the Brookings County Youth Mentoring Program. Fifteen percent of all proceeds from online orders placed that day for pick-up in Brookings will benefit BCYMP’s mission to provide one-on-one adult mentoring for at-risk K-12 youth.
“We’ve been blessed, and we want to see others blessed, too. That’s why we’re in business,” Jeff says.
Bring A Take and Bake Pizza Franchise to Your Community
A Papa Murphy’s franchise is a low-cost investment opportunity offering high growth potential. Join this dynamic brand as we expand our footprint across the United States. Initial investment costs range from $286,919 to $524,205, depending on numerous factors, including geographic areas, condition of the premises and construction costs. We have grown to more than 1,300 locations thanks to a business model built for entrepreneurs who are passionate about making a difference in their community, bringing families together, and most of all – pizza.