To earn the community’s support, Anand Agarwala is always giving back. It’s helped power his growth as a multi-unit owner. In this Q&A, he offers advice for new owners.
First-time entrepreneur Anand “Andy” Agarwala comes from a tradition of entrepreneurs. Many of his family members and friends own their own businesses, and he always wanted to follow in their footsteps one day. Agarwala opened his first Marco’s franchise in College Station, TX, in 2015; opened two more in Killeen, TX; and will open his fourth by the end of 2019 in Temple, TX. He plans to open a few more stores in central Texas in the next couple of years. One sure-fire way to ensure each of his locations is successful? Giving back generously to the communities that support them, from sponsoring youth sports teams to helping employees in need. Read how he does it in this Marco’s Pizza franchise review.
What were you doing before you joined Marco’s?
So, I worked for a year for Gexa Energy; I was the accounting manager there. And before that I was financial reporting manager at Calpine Energy.
And how did you find out about Marco’s?
Through my friend Akash Gupta; I’ve known him for the last 13 years. My son and his son are good friends, and we are from the same town in India — Kolkata. When I quit my job at Calpine Energy, I reached out to him to see if he knew any interesting, up-and-coming brands and he told me that he is the Area Representative for Marco’s for the central Texas region. He said that would be a good place for me to get into right now because the company is growing fast.
Did you ever look at any other pizza brands or any other franchise brands?
No. I was sold by Marco’s, especially what they were doing. Everything was fresh — making the fresh dough in-house, making the sauce fresh in-house, the three-blend cheese that’s never frozen, the authentic Italian background. So I felt that, among all the pizza places that I’ve eaten, this is the brand that stood out. This is the one that I needed to get into, to be able to sell this product to everyone and preach about it.
Is this your first experience as an entrepreneur?
Yes. I’m an immigrant from India, and everyone in my family is from a business background. You have the business thing in your blood, so I always wanted to be my own boss. I wanted to be guiding my own destiny, and it’s working in America. This was a good chance for me to be my own boss. So that’s why I jumped onto this bandwagon.
How did you find the transition from working for somebody else to essentially being your own boss?
It was not easy, but at the same time, I’ve seen my Dad running his own business and I was involved with him a little bit. So the transition was not bad. I felt pretty confident, and the Marco’s community as a whole was there to back us up. And I had my friend Akash, who is my AR. He was ready to help at every step along the path of my getting started with Marco’s Pizza.
What’s the most satisfying thing about being a Marco’s Pizza franchisee?
Community involvement. Any business would not exist without getting involved in the community, right? I’m involved in the community because they are the ones who make your business or break your business. So, I’ve been very much involved in the community. Killeen is a military town. We offer a 15% discount to military every day. All they have to do is show their ID. In College Station and in Killeen, we are very much involved with the schools. We do fundraising for them, and we give 20% back on the fundraising dollar amount that they raise. We do teacher appreciations, and we have special pricing for the schools — $7 for any large pizza with one topping.
We involve the churches, the fire department, the police department, any first response team. They get, and seniors get, discounts in our stores. We do a lot of pizza giveaways to local charities, and right now we are involved with a baseball team called The Bombers in College Station. We are their official sponsor.
We take care of our customers. We love our customers. We want them to feel that we are here because of you, so how can we help? My main goal is to keep my employees happy, and keep my customers happy, and that is the only way I can grow my business.
What kick-started your community involvement with your first Marco’s?
When I first started in College Station, the first few months were a struggle. Just me being in business in America for the first time and trying to take care of customers. We felt that until we reached out to the local schools, the community — and there’s also something called The Big Event here in College Station, Texas — until we got involved in all of that, people would not know our brand. In order to get our brand out there, we had to get involved in local store marketing.
How has that affected your bottom line?
I would feel it has gone up because people get to know the Marco’s brand and they want to come out and try our pizzas. I would say our bottom line has definitely improved.
What kind of advice do you offer to prospective franchisees about community involvement?
I would say do it. Start from the first day you open your store because the people don’t know us that well, and the only way to grow your business is by getting involved in the community.
Get involved with the Chamber of Commerce, get involved with the local events, get involved when employees are hurting. Get involved with everything that is going on, on a day-to-day basis at a local level.
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