Florida Area Rep and Operator of the Year Mike Fox on what it takes to win
Fox uses his expertise to help his fellow Marco’s Pizza franchisees develop their teams and grow their business
Marco’s Pizza franchisee Mike Fox moves fast. In just over five years, he went from an assistant manager at a Marco’s Pizza in the Bahamas to a partner in franchises in Orlando and Jacksonville, FL. He also serves as an Area Representative – Operations Field Consultant (AROFC), supporting the operations of his fellow owners throughout the Orlando market. He also helps them develop their teams and create more opportunities for people just like him.
For his hard work, Fox was recently named Marco’s Pizza Operator of the Year. Here’s what it took to win.
Across your various roles, how long have you been with Marco’s Pizza?
I’ve been with Marco’s now for just over five and a half years. Before I started with them, I was working as a marine mechanic in Nassau. My uncle worked for the company that brought Marco’s Pizza to the Bahamas, so I did some research, saw how they were growing and tried the food. I really felt that it was something special that they had brought down there, something that I wanted to be a part of. I wanted to grow my career with something that had a solid foundation.
I started as an assistant manager in the Bahamas, then I was a general manager for just under a year in Jacksonville and now I’ve been at my current position as an AROFC for four years. I’ve been a co-owner of the franchises for a year now, partnering with Glenn Ajmo and Mike Fletcher.
How did the opportunity to become a partner in the franchise come about?
It was just the right place, right time. The stores were changing hands and I had been a general manager for the one in Jacksonville, so I was familiar with the area, the customer base and a lot of the accounts that we had.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I enjoy working with different people, being able to open doors for people and provide opportunities, similar to how someone provided me the opportunity to start my career. I’m working with different people on different issues on a daily basis, helping franchisees grow their portfolio and build their personal financial bandwidth, and in turn be able to open up opportunities for other young career-minded individuals.
What do you do as an AROFC?
I’m one of the first points of contact on a day-to-day basis for franchisees and their general managers for pretty much anything operational in the stores. I do audit training, P&L training and provide grand opening support for new stores. We do weekly conference calls to calibrate with numbers and metrics. We help set goals on a monthly, quarterly, yearly basis. We go in and do inspections to give reports to the franchisees and general managers on how they’re doing in order to help them better the guest experience and their investment. We help do local store marketing and train managers on it.
What kind of person do you think it takes to be successful with Marco’s Pizza?
It takes a lot of determination and ambition. You’ve got to be willing to put in a hard day’s work and be willing to grow and sacrifice. It does take a lot from your personal life and your family, so you have to be able to balance it, so you can be present in your personal life but also be there 100% when you’re at work. You have to be willing to adapt and change on a daily basis and be able to work with new people and learn all their different personalities and traits.
For customers, why do you think Marco’s Pizza stands out?
We hyper-focus on delivering a great product and a superb, five-star guest experience. That’s our winning recipe, and it’s really helped us catapult our brand to new heights in the market.
How did you feel when it was announced that you had won the Operator of the Year Award?
I almost didn’t believe it. It’s been a long few years of putting in a lot of hard work, but we’re seeing a lot of good numbers and a lot of success because of it. It definitely feels good just to have that award to show that these last few years really were for something good.
What changes have you seen in the brand over the years?
Internally, I’ve seen a lot of positive structural changes, a lot of implementation of new systems and processes. Externally, I think we’re becoming more well-known in the market. The customer base that we’ve developed and the relationships that we’ve built across the U.S. have really given us a good foothold. It’s going to pair very well with our Hello Primo branding, which gives us a unified message for everyone to work with.
What kind of support do you get from the corporate team?
The support team provides a lot of structure and support for us. They’ve centralized a lot of the training portals that we’ve used. They help during grand openings and franchisee transitions or management transitions. They do a great job during the construction phase, providing structure for us to follow.
What are your plans for growing your business?
Right now, we’re trying to grow this entire market here in Florida. We’re at about 30 stores now in the Orlando area, and there’s still plenty of room for us to grow. So, we’re really focusing on reaching as many guests as we can and continue to grow the brand locally and nationally.
What would you say to someone considering investing in their own Marco’s franchise?
When you’re looking to invest in a business, you’re looking for a business with that competitive edge, and I truly feel that Marco’s has that competitive edge in the marketplace thanks to our product. If you’re a person that can train, develop and provide opportunities for people, this is a perfect business venture for you to grow your portfolio. The product is so great that if it’s paired with the right people at the right time, it can be a very successful endeavor.