Franchise Players

Getting Into the Growing Business of Fast-Casual Pizza

Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email

Jeff Burrill knows fast casuals. As a Panera Bread franchisee, he has been involved in one of the top names in the fast-casual business for 15 years. So, when he heard about a high-end DIY pizza franchise, he was interested. Here's why he choose to become a Pizza Studio franchisee.

Name:  Jeff Burrill

Franchise owned:  Pizza Studio in Bay Area and Panera Bread in South Bay Area, Calif.

How long have you owned a franchise? 

For 15 years.

Why franchising?   

I love to build and lead high-performing teams. Partnering with great franchisors like Pizza Studio and Panera Bread have allowed me to focus on team building and running great operations.

Related: What I Have Learned as a Coupon Magazine's First Ever Franchisee

What were you doing before you became a franchise owner? 

I worked in business development at eBay.

Why did you choose this particular franchise? 

I chose Pizza Studio because I believed in the people behind the brand, their vision and passion for the business, and the quality of the product. In addition, I found that Samit Varma, the CEO, had a long-term vision and strategic plan for his business. The fact that the chain is now part of a hot trend of DIY high-end pizzas intrigued me. This was a franchise I knew would grow, and now they are opening 100 new locations in 2015.

How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?

It cost $500,000: $400,000 for build-out and $100,000 for pre-opening soft costs.

Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?  

I’m fortunate to have a great business partners who provide me great advice and guidance. 

Related: Franchising When Subway Is Your Family Business

What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?  

The labor market is actually a lot tighter than the unemployment numbers would suggest, so finding great people was very challenging. For instance, every restaurant concept that is growing is looking for the same skill set in a general manager. We are all competing for hard-working, intelligent, multi-tasking managers and we need to give these qualified candidates a reason to choose to work with our company.

What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?

Find a brand and people that you trust and believe in before becoming a franchisee. You are entering into a long-term relationship and have to feel comfortable that the franchisor has the best interest of the brand, including franchisees, as their primary objective.

What’s next for you and your business?

 Continued growth, hiring/training great people, making a positive difference in the lives of our guests and employees. I enjoy taking a new team and offering them the training and skills to make them proud of their jobs. By doing this, I am hopeful that I will help my employees grow and take pride in their work and careers. I know that by staying focused on developing our team and taking care of our guests, we will not only “do well but we will also do good.” 

Related: How I Went From Working at State Farm to Running My Own Insurance Franchise

Edition: October 2016

Get the Magazine

Limited-Time Offer: 1 Year Print + Digital Edition and 2 Gifts only $9.99
Subscribe Now