Corporate Mission Drives Growth at Marco’s Pizza franchise

Marco’s President and COO Bryon Stephens touts customer service, employee loyalty and corporate partnership at annual general session


Touting Marco’s numerous successes over the previous year, from a No. 3 ranking in Forbes to completing another year as the nation’s fastest-growing pizza franchise, Marco’s Pizza® President and COO Bryon Stephens placed all of the pizza franchise’s success squarely on the people who make Marco’s Pizza.

“All the things that we are accomplishing stem from the dedication and the hard work of our franchisees, our area reps, support center staff, and from the young men and young women who are in our stores every day serving our customers,” Bryon told franchisees at our annual convention. “You look at all of this, and you really can say it is good to be us.”

Bryon cautioned franchisees against resting on their past successes. He points to the future and to Marco’s Pizza’s goal of having a five-star ranking from every customer who visits. That takes work, he said, but it also takes a plan.

Here are a few takeaways from the pizza franchise’s plan to take customer service to the next level, with a goal of 5-star customer service ratings for every restaurant. Providing excellent customer service is one of several ways franchisees can ensure that when people choose pizza, they choose Marco’s Pizza.

“If we don’t earn four or five stars from every guest, we won’t do it,” Bryon said.

Increasing customer satisfaction, a case study

The most important area targeted for improvement is customer retention. Bryon admits it’s an area that every restaurant can do better in, regardless of how well they’ve done before.

He singled out a particular experience of “getting it right” in the story of a military wife who visited a Marco’s Pizza. After a less-than-acceptable pizza was delivered, she complained to the area manager, Justin Tarrant.

Justin not only took the time to reach out to the customer, but he also went the extra mile. Justin let the customer know how her experience should have gone, and he provided her with the opportunity to enjoy another visit on the house — providing the customer with a free pizza and brownie for dessert. The customer wrote back, revealing that the email not only restored her faith in Marco’s Pizza, but it also made a difference in the lives of her kids, for whom she was having trouble making ends meet. “You made my night tonight,” the customer told Justin, “and this pizza and brownie were seriously out of this world. You taking a moment out of your busy schedule made my evening a complete blessing.”

Justin’s awesome example of putting the customer first wasn’t just making something right. “She’s now a Marco’s Pizza customer for life,” Bryon said.

Employee dedication, loyalty and guest service

One of the key components of successful customer service for Marco’s Pizza has been employee loyalty and engagement. Bryon notes those two factors play a significant role in customer satisfaction, which drives profits.

The top 17 managers among the more than 700 Marco’s Pizza stores have been employed at Marco’s Pizza an average of 20 years — which is almost unheard of in the food services industry. This level of commitment keeps employees engaged in the company, its well-being, and ultimately in the level of service provided to customers.

“Good customer service starts with getting the people equation right, and right in our own stores,” Bryon said. “It’s the key to us achieving our key results. We can’t just be focused on the numbers. We have to be focused on the people who are going to deliver those numbers.”

It’s no secret that engaged employees perform better and produce higher profits than employees who are disengaged, Bryon said, adding that franchisees who dedicate time and resources to employee development, training and support see significantly higher rates of return on their investment.

Bryon notes that some franchisees provide profit-sharing or insurance benefits to managers, while others dedicate significant resources to manager development and training. A higher level of employee buy-in differentiates Marco’s Pizza from other pizza franchise companies, highlighting how Marco’s Pizza is at once the employer of choice for workers and the partner of choice for franchise owners.

A successful Marco’s Pizza franchise starts with strong business partners

Jeremy Kramer Photo

Jeremy Kramer Photo

Emphasizing improvements across the platform, from developing better business data and business intelligence to creating new kitchen processes, Marco’s Pizza continued on its goal to improve operations and increase efficiency, one of the key ways in which the pizza franchise continues to develop its business partnerships.

Whether it is in developing new training processes at Marco’s University or honing recipes in the test kitchen, Bryon pointed out that continued development enhances business. Combined with the Voice of the Guest program, a customer feedback initiative, the company is seeing tremendous improvements in same-store operating performance and sales.

That performance is enhanced by new procedures for everything from dough-making to chemical and cleaning systems. And, moving forward, franchisees are excited about a brand refresh designed to ensure that Marco’s Pizza remains at the top of the pizza franchise food chain. One area Bryon notes the company has major plans for its technology.

“We all know that we have to close the tech gap in our industry,” he said. That means continuing to improve in-store technology platforms, but he says they’re taking the time to do it right. “We are committed to making quick, efficient but good decisions to give you the technology you need to be able to compete in the marketplace.”

Build your success on ours

Marco’s Pizza, one of the nation’s fastest-growing pizza franchise chains, prides itself in making the best delivery pizza money can buy. Marco’s Pizza is handmade in the Italian tradition, using fresh, never-frozen cheeses, making the dough in stores daily and using only premium meats and vegetables. Founded in Toledo in 1978, Marco’s is the only Top 20 pizza chain founded by a native Italian. Marco’s has enjoyed significant growth in recent years and is on pace to have 1,000 restaurants open by the end of 2017.

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