Marco’s University Rises To The Occasion

http://http://www.toledoblade.com/Food/2015/08/30/Pizza-U-rises-to-the-occasion.html

Published: Sunday, 8/30/2015 – Updated: 2 days ago

Pizza U. rises to the occasion

Toledo’s Marco’s pizza chain teaches franchise owners to make dough

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

 

Trainer Chuck Blevins of Lincoln Park, Mich., spreads cheese on a pizza held by Sara Ragsdale of Charleston, S.C., in Marco’s new test kitchen on Monroe Street. Marco’s was named the second-fastest growing chain in the nation.

 

 

 

 

 

Trainer Chuck Blevins of Lincoln Park, Mich., spreads cheese on a pizza held by Sara Ragsdale of Charleston, S.C., in Marco’s new test kitchen on Monroe Street. Marco’s was named the second-fastest growing chain in the nation.

 

Ed Alimi flew this month nearly 2,000 miles from his San Diego home to Toledo to learn how not to make a pizza.

He could have stayed home, bought a pie from a local pizzeria, ate it, and learned absolutely nothing. But as a new franchisee of Toledo’s Marco’s Pizza, Mr. Alimi is keen to make his budding pizza franchise succeed.

“That’s the whole idea of being at the corporate office, he said. ”They teach us the best way to make a pizza and how not to make a pizza.”

His Toledo training included a week at “Marco’s Pizza University,” a $500,000 training kitchen and research and development facility that the pizza company opened six months ago at its headquarters at 5252 Monroe St.

The test kitchen and R&D center is used for many purposes, including testing new products, said Bryon Stephens, president and chief executive officer of Marco’s Franchising LLC, which operates Marco’s Pizza. “But the biggest reason for having it is we use it as a training facility for all our franchisees coming in,” he said.

Until last year, Marco’s gave its new franchisees a week of classroom time at its headquarters to cover business issues, then took them to a local store to practice making pizzas and other food items.

“That was OK, but it didn’t provide the most optimal training period,” Mr. Stephens said. “You had to contend with the business that was coming in the store. It was a really slow way to educate people, and it was stressful.”

 

Delmy Lopez of Smyrna, Ga., stretches dough for a medium-sized pizza. Behind her, Ed Alimi of San Diego, applies sauce to a crust.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delmy Lopez of Smyrna, Ga., stretches dough for a medium-sized pizza. Behind her, Ed Alimi of San Diego, applies sauce to a crust.
With the 3,500-square-foot test kitchen, franchisees can learn the process “without being under fire,” he said.

 

Marco’s, which had $338 million in sales in 2014, decided that its big push to add franchises spurred the need for the kitchen training site.

Privately held Marco’s, which began in 1978 and recently was named the second-fastest growing large chain in the country by the Nation’s Restaurant News, has 640 stores in 35 states and the Bahamas, including 141 restaurants added in the last year. It says it is on track to quadruple its store count by 2022.

It plans to open 150 stores by the end of this year, and recently it finalized deals for 400 new stores in India over the next 10 years and 40 stores in Puerto Rico over the next nine.

Four years ago it was adding 20 to 40 stores a year, but now is doing 150 to 175, Mr. Stephens said.

“We started to realize that in order to have 10 to 12 people in a training class at one time, to keep that one-on-one element, we needed to do a reboot,” the chief executive officer said.

Lynn Liddle, a Domino’s Pizza executive who is chairman of the American Pizza Community, a lobbying organization whose members include most of the nation’s largest pizza chains — but not Marco’s — said it is common for pizza companies to have test kitchens.

Such test kitchens are used to “test recipes and operational aspects of our products, conduct training or demonstrations,” Ms. Liddle said.

“Pizza is a handmade, fresh product in many cases and requires the same care and artistry as any food recipe would,” she added.

Marla Topliff, chairman of the National Restaurant Association’s Pizzeria Council, said of a test kitchen, “It gives [franchisees] the opportunity to slow down and learn things the right way.”

 

Robert Tankoos of Charlotte ladles marinara sauce into small cups to accompany cheesy bread orders. Mr. Tankoos, who is originally from Toledo, and the other franchisees put their skills to the test at Marco’s Pizza corporate office.

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Tankoos of Charlotte ladles marinara sauce into small cups to accompany cheesy bread orders. Mr. Tankoos, who is originally from Toledo, and the other franchisees put their skills to the test at Marco’s Pizza corporate office.
“If you’re a larger chain like Marco’s, this is an excellent move, because when you’re bringing in franchisees you need a place to train them according to to your recipes,” said Ms. Topliff, president ofRosati’s Pizza in Chicago. And, she added, it is cheaper than sending out training teams.

 

“Plus, it’s very difficult to train someone out in the field,” she said. “We do our training in our main corporate store. Frankly, the kitchen isn’t large enough. It’s just too small, plus you want the best possible training setting you can get,” she said.

As a bonus, a test kitchen gives a chain the place to develop new recipes. “Recipes can take a long time to develop. It could take up to several months,” Ms. Topliff said.

Mr. Stephens said Marco’s shows franchisees not only how to make the perfect pizza, but how pizza-making can go wrong.

“We’ll have them purposely make dough wrong on occasion so they can see what would happen without a particular ingredient, what happens to our dough without the proper water, what happens when the water is too warm or the water is too cold,” the CEO said. “It’s one thing to know what looks wrong in theory. This way they’ll know what it looks like in practice.”

Not only does the training help with quality assurance, he said, it also means the trainees see something happen, such as a pizza crust that doesn’t rise properly, and then they will know what to do, something maybe they wouldn’t realize if they had previously seen it.

Franchisees get a certificate for completing Pizza University training, which includes a week of classes, followed by six weeks in the field at a franchisee in their home region, then a final week in the test kitchen.

“They come back here so we can thoroughly test them,” Mr. Stephens said.

Mr. Alimi, a former IT specialist with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, spent his six weeks at a store in Salt Lake City. There are only a handful of Marco’s Pizza stores in California, he said.

 

BIZ pizza19p    Iffy (cq) Momin (cq), of Decatur, Alabama, checks how much green pepper to put on a pizza.      Marco's Pizza franchise trainees polish their skills in the expanding pizza business' new test kitchen in Toledo, Ohio on August 19, 2015.     The Blade/Jetta Fraser

 

 

 

 

 

Iffy (cq) Momin (cq), of Decatur, Alabama, checks how much green pepper to put on a pizza. Marco’s Pizza franchise trainees polish their skills in the expanding pizza business’ new test kitchen in Toledo, Ohio on August 19, 2015.

 

In fact, Mr. Alimi is the first franchisee in San Diego. When he went looking for a career change and decided on a food franchise, he and his family had to drive two hours to Los Angeles just to find a Marco’s pizza to taste.

“We did a test, and everybody likes it. It’s fresh, very fresh dough and ingredients. I’m sure everybody in San Diego is going to like Marco’s Pizza,” said Mr. Alimi, who paid between $300,000 and $500,000 for his franchise. Marco’s said that the average cost for one of its franchises is $350,000.

Besides training franchisees, The Marco’s test kitchen gives the company a secluded place to plan and test potential new menu items. Recently, two flavors of brownie desserts — a Ghirardelli Double Chocolate version and a S’mores version — emerged from the kitchen after some experimentation.

It also successfully designed three limited-time specialty pizzas in the kitchen — a spicy fresco pizza, a grilled chicken florentine, and a Roma meats pizza.

“Our desserts lineup is something that we look at on our menu mix all the time,” Mr. Stephens said. “But we’ll look … beverages, pizzas, salads, sandwiches, sides, breadsticks, and desserts.”

After testing new products in the test kitchen, they are tested with customers in one or two areas. Before, initial testing was done in stores, and the customers expected that product to be on the menu later, and it may have been scrubbed. Plus, in a test kitchen, there’s more confidentiality on new products, Mr. Stephens said.

And, the test provides a place to test out new equipment, something to improve the efficiency, checked out initially without affecting an operating store.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128

Read more at http://www.toledoblade.com/Food/2015/08/30/Pizza-U-rises-to-the-occasion.html#wib3RfU6uGxihMYo.99

Marco’s Pizza Donation

Published on Aug 15, 2015

Columbia, SC

After a week-long customer campaign, Marco’s Pizza franchise owner, Joe Walker, presented Gilbert resident, Tommy Taylor with a check for $76,000.

Taylor has been fighting for life for the last 5 months. He has uncontrollable high blood pressure. For the last 6 years, Taylor credits his life to a device implanted in his chest during a clinical trial. With the trial now over, the device did not get FDA approval so Taylor has to cover the cost of his surgery on his own. No insurance company will cover it. That cost is now approximately $110,000.

Walker learned of Taylor’s story one week prior to starting a fundraiser for him. It was very short notice because of Taylor’s impending surgery date. Walker and his 8 Midlands Marco’s stores pledged $10,000 plus they matched the customer donations given in a week’s time. With the total amount raised, $76,000, plus Taylor’s GoFundMe (http://www.gofundme.com/pbkgbo) and other generous donations, Taylor now has enough money to afford his surgery which has been scheduled for August 20 in North Carolina.

Five Simple Steps to Achieving Clarity as a Team

Accountability requires clarity in tasks.

1. Identify a platform for recording all action items (e.g. dry erase board, a Google doc, etc).

2. Create a column in that platform called “What,” where you list out every action item that needs to be executed.

3. Create a “Who” column where you show who is responsible for each action item.

4. Determine “When” each task must be completed by.

5. Create a recurring follow-up schedule.

Four Steps to Setting Goals to Keep Your Business Focused

1. Set a “thematic” goal (e.g. for a quarter, for each month, processes, systems, etc). Work it out with your team so everyone has buy-in.

2. Set 4-6 action items in order for the entire team to realize the thematic goal.

3. Set your ongoing objectives (e.g. revenue, team development, operational goals for a quarter, year, etc.)

4. Have a check-in mechanism, such as a weekly scoreboard so everyone knows how well the team is advancing towards the thematic goal.

Five Secrets to Successful Leadership for Small Business

1. Lead by example.

2. Get in the trenches…share the struggle!

3. Do the the things that you say you’ll do, and that you have committed to doing.

4. Make each person that you talk to on your team feel like they are the most important person in the room.

5. Have a good attitude, and view the events that occur as opportunities for growth.

How to Lead Better

Mark Sanborn shares how managers and business leaders can improve their leadership skills to drive better results, boost sales or profits, and truly inspire teams. Learn a few tips for developing MVPs, your most valuable and profitable activities– it’s easier than you think!

The height of arrogance is believing your product, service, or your idea is so good it doesn’t need to be sold.

“Selling is helping people make a decision that is good for them….and if you believe that what you offer is good for the buyer, you owe it to them to sell it well.”

“…or you run the risk of letting your customer go elsewhere for an inferior … product or service.”

Four Ways to Elevate the Guest Experience

Here’s a short video of Mark Sanborn, at a speaking engagement for Buffalo Wildwings.  Interestingly, he speaks to “Four Ingredients of an Elevated Experience:”

1. The Guest Always Receives Value.  This means the Guest gets what they expect, even if their expectations aren’t right.

2. Surprise the Guest. If something was “as expected,” then its just “value.” However, if the Guest receives service or product that was not expected (in a pleasant way), then the guest is pleasantly surprised (and they will tell stories about your organization).

3. Your Job as a GM, Franchisee, or Manager is the Management of Guest Emotion.  The question is: “Did the Guest leave happier than when they came into your restaurant?” If they did, they’ll promote you (i.e. become a net promoter). THIS is the lifeblood of a brand…because Guests won’t simply tell bullet points about you, they’ll tell a (positive) story about you, and usually along the lines of “You MUST try this…” or “You MUST go there….”.

4. Guests Want to be Insiders! So know them. Know and use their names. Know and mention their “usuals.” Guests want credit for their loyalty!

2015 Marco’s National Convention: It’s Good to Be Us!

Many are commenting that last week’s convention in Tampa was the best in our company’s history. It was full of energy, enthusiasm, and motivation. As an example of that, check out this hype video from the convention, which includes our President, Bryon Stephens.

It’s Good to Be Us!

Joe Folkman: The Extraordinary Leader

For those of you who may be familiar with our Introduction to Operational Excellence program, you will recognize the name of the author and the book. We use the concepts within this book as the basis of our instruction on leadership in IOE 102. In this brief presentation, Joe Folkman discusses strengths based leadership, and it is well worth the view.

A Look at How Chipotle Cultivates Its Future Leaders

Here’s an interesting look at how a leader in the QSR industry capitalizes on its organizational culture to grow, and select, future restauranteurs. If you doubt the value of organizational culture to the success of not just the organization, but its people, then take a look at how Chipotle uses it.

Leadership- Engage Your Team- Create a Culture of Engagement

People will forget what you say; they’ll forget what you do — but they’ll never forget how you made them feel. 

~ Carl Buechner

This is a nice short video on building engagement within your team by finding the Engagement Sweet Spot.

The Five Levels of Leadership

We recognize organizations with outstanding leadership and learning (or training) programs when we see them, and among the best in this field is Chick-fil-A. In this video, New York Times Best-Selling Author, Dr. John C. Maxwell, speaking at a Chick-fil-A leadercast, explains the Five Levels of Leadership.

Dr Maxwell presents valuable examples and raises a lot of points that could be immediately applied to many of the situations we face on a daily basis. Please share your thoughts on Dr Maxwell’s description of the Five Levels of Leadership, and how understanding them might be helpful to you and your crew(s).

The Marco’s University L&D Team