Joe Jaros journeyed from pizza delivery driver to multi-stores pizza franchise owner
The next time you see a pizza delivery person at your door, tip well. They might just be saving up for their very own pizza franchise. That was certainly the case for Joe Jaros, who started out as a delivery driver for Marco’s Pizza ® at the age of 18. He worked his way into management, and by age 22 he was a partner in a store. Now 33, Joe owns two Marco’s franchises — and he wants more.
Please tell me about your family and the city you live in.
I was born and raised in Mentor, Ohio, and have always loved the community in which my home store is located. When the opportunity came up to buy into the store, I didn’t even hesitate. I now live just south of Mentor in Kirtland, Ohio. My dad was a police officer his entire career and worked his way all the way up to captain, second in command to the chief. My mother was a homemaker, and I grew up with very good morals and was taught to do everything to the best of my ability, keeping the highest level of integrity.
What were you doing before Marco’s?
Prior to Marco’s, I was a high school student working in some machine shops, running 6-spindle automatics and also some secondary operations on various parts, some for aircraft, others for cars, and some were government-classified parts as well. My high school buddy worked for a pizza company called Marco’s Pizza ®, and I had never heard of them. He begged me to come and deliver so he could replace himself so he could go into management. I agreed and fell in love with the business, the concept, and I have never since looked back. I quit the shops, and Marco’s has been my full-time position ever since.
So you actually went from being a pizza delivery driver to owning your own store?
I started out as a delivery driver at the age of 18. I worked my way into management shortly after. And, at age 22 — it was 2001 — I bought into the store as an equal partner. I was a very good saver as a child and started investing in stocks when I was 14. Those were the good old years when the stock market was booming so that even a 14-year-old could make money, and I did quite well for my age. So with that said, I didn’t need anybody’s help financially to help purchase my shares.
Do you own one unit or several? Why?
I own two stores and plan to continue. Why? Because I, for one, love new challenges, but I also want to create opportunities for my employees. They have been loyal to me, so I feel it is my duty to provide a good career for them to advance with.
Did you have food or retail experience before owning the franchise? How important is that?
I worked in the store that I now own, but prior to that, no. I don’t think it is necessary for everybody. It certainly would be a huge benefit, and in some ways I wish we required all new franchisees to manage a store prior to selling them franchises.
What do you like about the job?
I love that every day is not repetition, as was the factory work. Every day I deal with my customers that I have gotten to know. I develop a care for my staff members and love to develop young people and teach them all I know, so as they enter the workforce and begin their careers, I hope that I have impacted them in a positive way. Some have gone on to open businesses of their own and claim they use my business ethics in their own businesses today. That, for me, is so rewarding. I also enjoy having this extreme desire to be the best, and I thrive on destroying my competition.
What sets Marco’s apart?
Marco’s simply covers all basics. Most importantly, we had a great foundation to build off of. The product is second to none. They have re-established the brand and created an authentic image that helps distinguish us as a higher quality product. Then the customer sees our packaging, which reassures that quality, and then the product itself convinces them that we are the real deal. So many brands are just a nice image with an OK product. Marco’s is all-around impressive in all aspects.
How large is the opportunity to grow with Marco’s?
I definitely feel Marco’s has a very big opportunity for many new people coming in. The growth is slow enough that the small guy coming in has a chance to grow at his own pace, yet fast enough to gain attention and convince opportunists to look at our brand.
Who are your main customers? Who are your best customers?
Our customers are typically middle class… The best customer is any evangelist that will bring people by referral.
What attracts customers to Marco’s rather than its competitors?
The quality of the product backed by a team obsessed with customer service, a desire to be the best at what we do and continuing our traditions of maintaining the culture each and every one of them have adapted to and have come to love and respect.
How many customers do you typically serve in a day?
200, give or take 50
What does your typical day look like?
Typically, I walk in the door and look at the store through the eyes of the customer. What do they see? Is the store clean? Are we representing the brand in a positive way? Then I talk with my team members. I discuss what has been going right and what has been going wrong. Where can we improve? Then I begin my day, and what I do depends on my shift I am scheduled to work. On a morning shift, I will begin to prep first by making the dough and sauce, then the toppings later in the day. All that is done in between taking orders and serving the customer. Midday, I can usually get things done that I need to get done, any interviews or meetings, marketing — whatever needs to be done.
Being a busy store makes this possible because I usually have a few openers scheduled as well. We prepare and pre-rush prep for dinner, and then the fun is just beginning. The dinner rush typically lasts about three or four hours. Once dinner winds down, my manager and I will meet with a couple employees to discuss areas to improve, but we try to find something positive with every negative. Once I address any issues with my closing manager, my day has concluded and I go home.
What is a secret to your success?
There is one thing every successful store has in common. We have a great culture we have created, and our employees learn to respect and love working in that culture — the kind where the staff enjoys coming to work and wants to be the best. They usually care as much as we do, and they feel they are a part of something great. You should never treat your customers better than your employees. If you do not respect them, are they going to respect your customers?
What kind of person do you think would enjoy owning a Marco’s franchise?
Anybody that enjoys a challenge, because it is competitive, but they must love to work with people and must love to serve people. They should be a great leader or at least hire a great leader, and desire to continue building that culture and nurture it.
What are some of the personal benefits of franchise ownership?
The satisfaction of owning something that most people love — pizza. The benefit of working hard and seeing results and being able to grow at your own pace and reap from the rewards of that hard work. As for being a franchise, there are some savings by buying items needed in larger quantities, such as paper products and advertising print. It is also nice to have somebody negotiate food prices and print costs. Then add in the time it takes to create artwork, menus and specials. There are some benefits there that help ease the thought of having to pay franchise fees.
Would you recommend a Marco’s franchise to someone else? Why?
I would recommend Marco’s to other potential opportunists. I have been with Marco’s for 15 years and I have seen many changes, but they have built an excellent leadership team at the corporate office, and everybody has one goal. Surprisingly, unlike like most companies, our goal isn’t making money. We all want to be the best. The product. The service. Our image. Our commitment to being the best will lead to the money, but unless we are the best, the money means nothing.