Until a year ago, our development success has been based solely on the intuition of talented restaurant and real estate professionals. We lacked the in-depth capability to analyze all of our drivers for success. Management came to realize that the company's future depended on complementing the art of market selection, planning, and site selection with fact-based analytics and optimization. Our experience-only approach had left the chain under-penetrated in established markets and left management challenged to repeat previous success in the more urban Eastern markets available for expansion. Management also needed to clear a bottleneck in the dissemination of site information to franchisees. Capturing the concept's full potential of more than 4,000 stores nationwide called for a proactive approach.
Papa Murphy's management partnered with location optimization firm geoVue (www.geovue.com) and began a thorough review of existing stores in the system to help determine what were the drivers for success in both markets and individual stores. This was the first complete review of the Papa Murphy's portfolio of stores in its history.
Using the geoVue solution, we ranked all U.S. markets based on consumer demographics and psychographics, competition, local growth, media efficiency, etc. Then we generated different build-out scenarios to determine the optimum strategy. We also created sophisticated profiles that quantify the demand for our offerings. In addition, we've used the solution to deploy a secure web-based portal for sharing site development information with franchisees. Our franchisees for the first time could quickly and easily run multiple reports of potential new stores and their existing stores. Also for the first time, Papa Murphy's franchisees had their own data, rather than the data supplied by a landlord or broker. This has increased trust and ultimately led to increased franchise sales.
Because of our efforts, company management expects future development plans to be dramatically impacted by fact-based insights. We have found new store opportunities in existing markets that we didn't know we had. That has enabled us to maximize new store performance while minimizing the potential for store cannibalization.
Papa Murphy's has improved its ability to prioritize markets, which is crucial as it rapidly expands in the U.S. and Canada. In addition, the company and our franchisees now have online capabilities that provide access to site characteristics of existing and proposed store locations. This enables us to more easily come to fact-based decisions about store placements within defined markets.