Marco’s Pizza President’s Award Winner Brandon Smith Focused on Growth
For nearly a decade, the Area Representative has made a career building loyal Marco’s Pizza fans in the Ohio market — not to mention a few pizzas with his team
You could say Marco’s Pizza® is in the Cutillo family blood, producing award-winning owners with decades of commitment to the brand. Brandon Smith joined Marco’s Pizza eight years ago, when his father-in-law, Marco’s veteran Dan Cutillo, brought him into the family business.
It’s a testament to the Marco’s brand that longtime owners like Dan, last year’s prestigious Marco’s Pizza Legacy Award winner, have stayed loyal to Marco’s for decades and that a new generation, like 31-year-old Brandon, is excited about the future as Marco’s closes in on nearly 1,000 locations by the end of 2017.
“Dan called on a Friday to let me know that an Area Representative (AR) position had just opened up. My wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, and I had already talked about the possibility of moving back to Ohio and getting involved with the business. As Dan and Barb said, ‘If you are serious, it’s now or never,’” Brandon says. Brandon packed his bags that Sunday and drove from Baltimore to Ohio to start his new position with Marco’s.
Brandon, who received the prestigious President’s Award at Marco’s recent annual convention, took a moment to share his views on the incredible momentum Marco’s is enjoying.
How does the quality of Marco’s service and product draw customers?
As we expand in Columbus and Dayton, as well as Toledo, home of Marco’s headquarters, the visibility and the awareness are great. When you say Marco’s, everyone knows who we are. In Columbus and Dayton, we are competing with a lot of pizza restaurants, and it’s the quality that makes us stand out. Once they try us and get that great service experience — and then try our incredible Marco’s product — we are separated from the pack.
Why does Marco’s thrive in a competitive industry?
We are delivering the best product with the best service, but it all depends on the operations and hiring and training. When you get those right, the sky is the limit. The support is also phenomenal. With Marco’s, if you need and want the support, the home office is there to guide you to be more efficient and successful. All you have to do is ask, and you’ll get feedback from an AR, a franchisee or a corporate representative. It’s not unheard of to get a member of the Marco’s executive team on the phone. It is nice that you can get to know the faces of the brand.
What sort of feedback do you provide to potential Marco’s franchisees?
The product usually is what sells the idea, as they have all tried it and loved it. Then they inquire about the training and the support. The biggest thing I try to impress upon them is the work and the attention to detail that goes on in the stores. It’s not just making dough, throwing sauce and cheese on it and then toppings. There are so many more aspects that make a successful store.
Tell us about how the training and support from Marco’s help owners succeed.
Marco’s provides training that is very comprehensive in helping owners be successful. The tools they have invested in and continue to introduce are helping us to be more organized, know what our customers truly think and give us the ability to have stronger checks and balances. The tools Marco’s provides help owners to really look at their stores on multiple levels and determine if there are any weak points. You can identify what needs to be worked on and even see what days of the week need improvement.
What makes Marco’s such a scalable concept?
First of all it has to do with mastering the brand as far as the operations, from the front of the house to the back of the house. Make sure your business side is tight. The second thing is people. You can’t scale up without having the right people in place. I am in operations, but I have three supervisors — one in each market — who oversee the stores and report back to me. I trust them wholeheartedly. They work very hard helping with staffing, support, marketing — anything to make the stores successful.
Marco’s is a business you can teach someone how to do and how to do well. Like any franchise, it’s a process. Teach the process and make sure they can run with it, and then move on to store number two. Never lose sight of store number one, however, because you’re not building the success of store number two without store number one being successful.
What do you think about the direction of the company?
It’s an exciting time to be part of Marco’s. There is such a positive reaction to the brand. People know who we are. We are in a lot of states and a lot of big markets. I have friends all over the country who will text me and say they just spotted a Marco’s sign. I like that people get so excited to see that logo go up by their house, and they can’t wait to try our product. We’re headed in a good direction, and we’re getting closer to 1,000 stores. That will be a really great time to be part of the brand and enjoy all that comes with it.
We are expanding in the Columbus area this year with the addition of a new store and preparing to relocate two existing stores in the Dayton market within the next 12 to 18 months.
What do you enjoy most about being a Marco’s AR?
I like the business and growth side, and I like working with the young people. I have college-age employees who work in my stores who come back from school to work over summer and winter breaks. Selfishly I hate to see them go, but it’s awesome to see them finish college and move on. I also love helping out on a Friday night when we’re busy, the phones are ringing and the ovens are going. I get to leave the numbers behind, and I tell the GM to put me in where they want me. Those are the fundamentals to me that are fun — getting my butt kicked right there with them. I try to keep it fun and try to keep it lighthearted. I hate it when people introduce me as the boss; I’m just part of the team. I have no problem cleaning the grease trap, taking the trash out, making pizza — whatever it takes to get the job done!
What was your reaction to receiving the President’s Award?
I keep my head down and do my job, so getting recognized for this award was definitely worth all the hard work. It was fantastic and was a nice surprise. There are a lot of details in pizza, and to be successful you’ve got to be able to follow the details. There are very few days that go by that I am not in a store.
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