By G. David Doran
Employees who fantasize about being the boss will be glad to hear this: Marco's Pizza Inc., a Toledo, Ohio-based pizzeria, has a number of franchisees who once delivered pizzas or tossed dough for the restaurant.
Eric Schmitt, director of franchise sales for Marco's, believes employees who start at the bottom make the most successful franchisees. "They understand the work, the hours, and the problems with hiring and firing," he says. Called "internal growth," Marco's policy allows employees to gain experience for owning and managing a restaurant franchise.
Delivery drivers Todd Timmins and Joe Boles Jr. are cases in point. "Since we'd worked [at] Marco's, we already knew 90 percent of what it took to run a store," says Boles. "We just needed to learn the other 10 percent--the administrative and ownership aspects of it." Timmins and Boles now own three stores in Ohio.
Schmitt shares his employees' enthusiasm for internal growth, which accounts for more than a quarter of Marco's franchisees. "They see the opportunity that exists," he says. "They know they can move into management, and they get very gung-ho about it."