Franchisee DJ Patel says Marco’s Pizza ® is helping South Asian investors realize the American dream
When DJ Patel graduated from college in India in 1987, he was on a plane to the United States the next day with $100 in his pocket.
Fast-forward 26 years and you’ll find the upbeat 49-year-old overseeing six successful Marco’s Pizza ® franchises in the Atlanta area. As the Marco’s Pizza ® area representative for the region, Patel is also busy training and mentoring more than a dozen new franchisees, and he’s got 10 more in the pipeline preparing to become franchisees.
Many of the new franchisees under Patel’s careful watch are South Asians who, just like him, came to this country in search of opportunity. Patel is dedicated to helping them succeed.
“In my position as an owner of multiple franchises and area rep, I can have a big impact not only on my own future, but on the future lives of others,” Patel says. “Making a difference in the Indian community here is definitely a part of that vision.”
Patel is already seen as a leader in Georgia’s Indian community, which has an estimated population of about 100,000 in 2013, based on U.S. Census Bureau data. He is a founding member of the Gujarati Cultural Association of North America — or GCANA.
“The Indian community here is very entrepreneurial and business-minded,” Patel says. “They are in every industry you can think of and willing to put in the time, work and effort it takes to succeed.”
Patel, an industry veteran who worked at the corporate level for Pizza Hut for 23 years, decided to invest in Marco’s in 2011 after scrutinizing all available options on the market. He says he knew Marco’s was not only the best choice for him, but for his colleagues and friends in the Indian community.
“Marco’s always came out as No. 1 when I did my research. They definitely offer the best pizza around, and there’s plenty of room for growth,” Patel says, adding that there is less growth potential with franchises such as Pizza Hut and Papa John’s because they have saturated many markets.
“I knew if I went with a brand like Marco’s, I could impact the Indian community in Georgia. I didn’t want them to miss out on this opportunity,” he adds. “Naturally, I am willing to help anyone, whether they are Indian, African, American or Brazilian, and I do. Still, it’s special to help the Indian community. My accomplishments put me in a trusted spot with them.”
Family life is especially important to Patel, and he wants to make sure the franchisees he mentors know there’s more to life than pursuit of fortune.
“I want to show them how they can enjoy success not only in their business life but in their community and personal life,” he says.
Patel is especially proud of is his home life. He recently moved his 84-year-old mother from India to Georgia to live with his family, which consists of teenage daughter, Lona, and wife, Hetal. His two older siblings, a brother and a sister, also live close by.
When he trains and coaches franchisees, Patel brings more to the table than his 2-plus decades of hands-on experience in the pizza restaurant industry. He is also extremely innovative and creative, a believer in always doing more than is expected.
For example, one of his Marco’s Pizza ® franchises in Suwanee, Ga., is a “green” building, constructed with an emphasis on energy efficiency and low environmental impact. The restaurant contains energy-efficient lighting and air conditioning throughout, and the oven has sensors that shut off power when there is not a pizza going through it.
There was no requirement for Patel to add these features to the store, and it would have cost him less if he hadn’t.
“I believe in taking things to the next level, including the Marco’s Pizza ® brand,” he says.
Marco’s Pizza ® is an all-American franchise that welcomes franchisees of all races, creeds, religions and backgrounds. If you’d like to learn more about owning a Marco’s franchise, fill out the form at right or give us a call at 1-800-262-7267.