Marco’s Pizza Test Kitchen Preps Franchisees for Successful Future
Owners get trained at the facility, and new menu items are being cooked up
Marco’s Pizza has rolled out another way to help our franchisees stay ahead of the curve.
This summer, the Ah!thentic pizza franchise opened a 3,500-square-foot learning lab in Toledo, Ohio, where franchisees learn quality standards and how to make the ultimate pizza — from a well-crafted crust to sauces and spices — as well as how to fix a not-so-perfect pie.
Franchisees spend a week at a Marco’s University store location, six weeks in the field, and then a final week in the lab’s kitchen, where they make pizza for corporate staff. In the end, they get a certification of completion.
“It’s our goal to set the industry standard and create an environment that enables training specific to our brand,” said Tony Libardi, Executive Vice President of Operations. “We’re aiming to create an entirely new experience for our franchisees.”
As the only national franchise chain founded by a native Italian, the Marco’s Pizza franchise has made a name for itself in the burgeoning pizza industry by producing fresh, authentic, handmade pizza. Known for our fresh dough made daily on-site, our proprietary three-cheese blend that is fresh and never frozen and our secret pizza sauce recipe, Marco’s Pizza has enjoyed success and rapid growth. We attribute it to our strong corporate backing, our ability to gain market share, our unit-level profitability, our food standards and our ability to attract top talent among franchisees and support center staff.
Within the first week at the learning lab, “new owners will be fully immersed in Marco’s culture and operations,” says Tony.
From learning to make pizza to getting suitable instruction on the brand’s “Introduction to Operational Excellence,” the training is more hands-on than the old ways of people being given PowerPoint tutorials. The test kitchen plays a significant role in “people development,” says Bryon Stephens, Marco’s Pizza President and COO.
Marco’s Pizza creates new items, limited-time offerings
Training is only one component of the Marco’s Pizza test kitchen. It is also a space for creative juices to flow. Innovation is already happening with the creation of Marco’s desserts, S’mores and Double Chocolate brownies, both made with premium Ghirardelli® chocolate. The brownies have received rave reviews from customers for their extra rich and intense flavor.
Three limited-time specialty pizzas also have been created in the kitchen, including a Chicken Fresco pizza, Grilled Chicken Florentine pizza and a Roma Meat pizza.
“We’re fanatical about creating the perfect pie, and the new dessert products lived up to the same high culinary standards as our pizzas,” says Bryon. “We will apply that quality standard to every piece of equipment and product we test in the kitchen before they go to our stores and to market. Likewise, we are investing substantial resources in attracting and developing quality people to own, manage, and work in our stores.”
Store openings continue to sizzle, with plans to have opened 150 new stores by the end of 2015. Marco’s Pizza franchise is expected to quadruple our number of stores in the coming five to seven years. Deals have been finalized to open 400 stores in India over the next 10 years and 40 stores in Puerto Rico over the next nine years.