In this Marco’s franchise review, Joe Jaros talks about his journey from delivery boy to becoming a winner of our prestigious President’s Club Award
Multi-unit owner Joe Jaros knows Marco’s Pizza inside and out. Before buying his first Marco’s franchise in 2001, Jaros had already been part of the Marco’s family for 4 years, climbing his way up from delivery driver to management. That’s the kind of drive and determination he’s always been known for. And, just as he was afforded an opportunity to partner with an experienced franchisee in his first store, Jaros is today providing those same opportunities to his employees. In today’s Marco’s franchise review, Jaros talks about his journey to the Presidents Club Award.
You started with just one store in 2001. How many units do you own today?
Six units — three in the Cleveland market, all in the same county; two stores in the Columbus market, and one in Bartow, FL, just south of Lakeland and east of Tampa.
I always appreciated the opportunity I was given to buy into a store that I had already been working in. I wanted to provide the same kinds of opportunities for future employees who were like me, with the passion and drive and ambition I had. I made it my mission, as I grow and open more stores, to bring in my best employees and make them partners.
That Florida store is run by my partner, a long-tenured employee. She wanted to move to Florida, so we partnered up. It’s the same thing with my partnership in Columbus, where another employee and I have partnered to own two stores together there.
I have a third longtime employee, my director of operations, who holds 10% of future stores in my Cleveland market. I just find really good, passionate people and I keep some skin in the game. Hopefully we can enter into new markets I would otherwise not be able to supervise. By bringing on a partnership, I don’t have to supervise. I have a managing partner who’s running it. I’m awarding people the opportunity that was given to me.
How do the partnerships help your growth financially? Do you plan to continue growing?
I make my money by opening stores and investing in the right people. I believe in my leadership and want to grow. I do anticipate growing. We wait for the right real estate, the right opportunities and hope it all comes together. In the next five years, I am hoping we’ll do another three to four stores. Last year we did three, literally doubling the company in that one year alone.
How did you manage three stores in one year?
My Columbus partner was ready to go to his second store, my Cleveland team was ready to expand and then my Florida store happened. All three markets came together.
I don’t anticipate growth like that every year. In 2019, I plan on doing at least one, maybe two.
What impact has this growth had on your management structure?
For me it was actually quite easy. Normally it would be pretty difficult to double your company overnight. But it was nothing for me and my team.
I sent a group of people down for the opening in Florida. I was there for a week myself. I had my director of operations and a shift manager go down, and they spent three weeks down there. After they came home, it was nothing for us to handle that new build in Cleveland.
In my Painesville, Ohio, location, everybody trained out prior to opening. When the store opened everybody was fully trained and ready to go. We had a good general manager who took over right away. I told my wife, “I may not see you for a month or two. I’m going to do what it takes to make this thing right.” She knew that might have been coming. But after three or four days we realized it was going to be a piece of cake. We had all the right people. It was really pretty simple. From an owner’s standpoint, it was extremely easy for me.
What’s the advantage of opening so many different locations?
The more stores you have, the larger the farm team you’re developing. We always have an up-and-coming manager moving through the ranks. Also, you’re not so reliant on the income from each store. If I had one store, that’s going to be a good living for my family. The second one is retirement and income. With 3 stores, now I don’t need to make as much because I have income from 3 different restaurants. As you expand, you have to invest in your infrastructure. Now we’ve recently promoted a training development manager like a field supervisor. Each store has a GM. We never stop developing people.
How do you feel about the direction of the brand?
I feel really good about the brand. In the 20 years I’ve been with Marco’s, I’ve watched it go from a small regional brand in Michigan and Ohio to this national and international brand. I’ve watched this company grow exponentially. We’ve got better and better people in leadership positions. We’ve come a long way.
What makes Marco’s Pizza a good investment?
First, you want to be passionate about what you sell and what you do. I can walk with my head high selling a product people love. I feel proud.
As a multi-unit owner, what does your typical day look like?
When I had three stores, I was still in and running the stores. I was still on the schedule at my original store. I wanted to stay in the pizza game as much as possible. I didn’t want to forget how to do the field work the employees were doing.
But I realized you can have too many hats, too many people trying to steer the ship. It was becoming a problem. The only way to go was to create an infrastructure. I couldn’t be a store-level employee and continue to grow.
I’m more in the office now and developing. I’m on the Marco’s Franchisee Advisory Board. We are the voice between franchise owners and corporate. If the franchisees have issues, they can call one of their MFAB members. My job is to contact the right person and get them the help they need.
How large do you want to grow your franchise?
I don’t see myself doing anything else. My goal that I share with my staff is that I would like to get to 30 stores or more. Honestly, I don’t need to open more stores. I want to create opportunities for the people on my team.
You can download our franchise report for in-depth details about our business opportunity. You can also learn more by exploring our pizza franchise research pages, and you can read more Marco’s franchise reviews on our blog.