Marco’s Pizza franchisee Brian Fairbanks explains why higher-quality food and service makes us one of the best pizza franchises for owners and guests
From the moment Brian Fairbanks started working at a Marco’s Pizza, he knew there was something special about the place. Every aspect of the store spoke to a commitment to excellence, from the fresh-made dough to the professional and attentive service to guests. As Fairbanks worked his way up through the store’s management, he felt this might be the best pizza franchise to own. He partnered with his dad to buy an existing location, and they’ve experienced such success that they’re in the process of expanding their franchise.
Where’s your franchise located?
Just outside of Cincinnati, OH, in Landen, and we’re looking at ways to expand.
How did you get started with Marco’s?
I had been working a couple different restaurant jobs. I was a floor manager for a short period of time. When the Anderson Township Marco’s opened I started with them, walked in and absolutely loved the way the restaurant ran. I’d worked a couple different pizza jobs, and this was one of those places that just seemed so right. Within about a month, they were looking for management personnel for the store, so they promoted me to an assistant manager position, and I worked my way up to assistant general manager.
Right about the time they were thinking of promoting me to general manager of one of the stores, I thought to myself, “Well, I think I can run one of these things.” My dad was looking for retirement income and I thought this would a great opportunity. I told him, “I’ll do all the work, you put up some of the money and we’ll make it happen.” We ended up buying an existing store from a franchisee in November 2013, and the rest is history.
What makes Marco’s stand out?
In the Cincinnati area we have a regional player that’s a big deal here, and for a company to come in and advertise the way Marco’s did, “fastest-growing pizza concept” and all that, it had an air of newness for everybody. I had worked for that other chain not long before Marco’s came to town, and there was a big difference between them. There’s just something about how simple Marco’s is to operate; there are no fryers and it’s not nearly as messy as some other pizza concepts. I walked in on the first day, the fresh dough mixer is going, they’re cutting up veggies, nothing’s shipped frozen, you’re just proud because it’s kind of like making your own food at home. It tastes better when you make it this way.
What are some of the ways you market your business and bring in new guests?
Earlier this year we were ranked America’s favorite pizza company by Market Force, and we’ve been pushing that message of quality all along, because we know that the quality of our product is that much better than the competition, and that’s what our customers care about.
When going out and marketing a Marco’s restaurant, you’re just getting people to try our pizza. Once they walk in the door and have one of those epiphany moments, “This place smells better, it looks better than other restaurants and the pizza tastes so much better,” you’ve got them.
But when I go out and market, customer service is the biggest thing I push. My drivers will be more professional than other drivers, they’ll be there on time; when we answer the phone to take your order, we’re attentive; we’re offering specials and discounts when other companies may try to hide them. It’s definitely a customer-service first approach, and we do it that much better than everybody else.
What are some of the ways the team at Marco’s has helped you transition from management to ownership?
They’ve helped with almost everything, to be completely honest. The learning curve for running a business is nearly infinite. Any good business owner knows that you never know enough, you’re always looking for something else.
The first moment I realized that I was with a company that was really going to help me figure things out was meeting the leadership team at Discovery Day at Marco’s Support Center in Toledo, OH. With other concepts, you don’t get as direct a connection with the executive team.
We also did some one-on-one franchise training, and it is all-inclusive. They are exhaustive about every aspect of the store, and of course, the business, too. As far as accounting, all the vendors that are set up for you, they’re helping you with financing, again, it’s pretty all-encompassing.
Have you been able to meet the performance goals you’ve set for your business?
We purposefully took on a store that was underperforming, because just by looking at the demographics of the area, we knew the store should be a success. We’ve increased sales by about 40%-45% since we’ve owned it. We wanted to do it right, we wanted steady, sustainable growth, and Marco’s has helped us pretty much every step of the way with that.
What would you say to a potential Marco’s franchisee?
There’s this sense you get during the process with Marco’s where you can tell there’s something special about the company. There really is. Everybody around that’s helping you, and especially from the support center, you can tell that there’s not a sales pitch, everybody really believes what they’re saying when they tell you, “This is what you’re going to get when you sign up with Marco’s.” Then they work to make it an actuality.
One of the other things that makes Marco’s so attractive is the amount of opportunity. There are still so many areas available even as we’ve grown. We’ll have 26 stores in Cincinnati when I open this next one, and there are still locations available. There’s so much opportunity out there, and it just seems that everywhere we go, especially the new markets we go into, they just take off so fast because, again, the product is great, the customer service is great and I would just say the sheer amount of opportunity is great.