Multi-unit owner’s investment in his team pays off

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A talented and invested team helps Marco’s Pizza® Franchisee of the Year Joe Jaros operate in multiple markets, from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast

For 2017 Marco’s Pizza Franchisee of the Year Joe Jaros, the key to meeting an ambitious vision was putting the right team in place. Though a talented operator himself, he was really able to accelerate his growth and become a multi-unit owner once he put the focus on developing a team that would be with him for the long haul, and executed a plan to help them become owners themselves.

Marco’s Pizza multi-unit owner Joe Jaros
Marco’s Pizza multi-unit owner Joe Jaros

Thanks to that strategy, Jaros has expanded from one unit in his hometown of Cleveland to five units in both Ohio and Florida, with a sixth on the way. When hiring a manager, he approaches the process as if he were bringing on a partner, because if things go well, that may be exactly what happens.

“If I have somebody great who wants to open a store but doesn’t have the money to do it on their own, I financially back them and bring them in as a partner,” says Jaros. “My two Columbus stores are actually with an apprentice; he’s done so well on the first one that we’re on our second one together.”

Marco’s training and culture

Encouraging and rewarding hard work is a deeply ingrained part of Marco’s culture, something Jaros has experienced since he started out as a Marco’s Pizza delivery driver at 18.

He quickly moved up through management at his store and became a part-owner when he was just 22, thanks to his own hard work and a boss who wanted to help him achieve his dream. Now, Jaros does the same for members of his own team, bringing on successful managers as partners who are invested in their stores not just as a job, but as a way of starting a pizza business themselves.

“My team has some of the best pizza people I’ve ever met,” says Jaros. “I’ve been able to identify the traits that it takes to own a Marco’s Pizza store, and I can separate a manager from an entrepreneur. There are some great entrepreneurs out there that just don’t have the financial backing on their own, and bringing them on is an opportunity for me to expand in other markets.”

Another key factor in building his team comes from the extensive training Marco’s offers, both to franchisees and their employees.

“We have a training program that’s probably one of the best in the pizza industry,” he says. “It pretty much will teach anybody anything about running the business. We’re able to assist managers in getting a great culture at the store level. Employees do a better job if they’re happy where they work and if they’re treated right, and that flows through to the customers. We keep raising the bar, every year.”

The exterior standalone Marco’s Pizza location with a drive-thru and a patio with three red umbrellas.
‘We’re not oversaturated. There are still open markets where someone could go in and open 10 stores,’ says Jaros. ‘With a lot of other large chains, the markets are taken or the opportunities are spread out all over the place.’

Multi-unit owner grows smartly, then quickly

Jaros has always had ambitious plans to grow his business (he says he may open up to 30 pizza stores one day), but the biggest step was getting from one store to two.

“I spent 10 years running and operating one store, doing too much of it myself. I realized that wasn’t going to allow me to grow until I accepted the need to train and develop future GMs for my stores,” he says. “That’s when I decided to bring on a team that I thought could do better than me alone. Once I did, we were up double-digits five years in a row. We took the store from an average store to one of the top stores in the chain. I decided that it was time to keep expanding and build an infrastructure of people.”

He repeated his success with another store in the Cleveland market, then expanded to Columbus. When he looked into opening a store in Bartow, FL, he was confident that the infrastructure he’d built could support it.

“The Florida store is run by a partner who was my employee for 15 years. Her dream was to open up a Marco’s store, so I sent her into Marco’s training,” he says. “She did a phenomenal job, she embraced the Marco’s culture and she fully understood what it takes to become a franchisee, so I took a chance with her and moved her down to Florida. She’s operating that store as a 50-50 partner and I don’t need to get on a plane and fly there all the time. I know it’s in good hands.”

And he says those “good hands” are present in every store he owns.

“Everybody has done a phenomenal job across the board, and I couldn’t do it without them. People love our product, and as long as you can get the team and the operations right, you can certainly succeed in our business.”

Learn more about the franchise opportunity

Download our franchise report for in-depth details about how Marco’s Pizza has helped many successful multi-unit owners build sustainable, growing businesses. You can also learn more by exploring our research pages.