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 email@example.com.
After 21 years in the pharmaceutical industry, Mark Prygocki was ready for something new. So, he decided to become the first Fractured Prune Doughnuts franchisee in the state of Arizona. Prygocki became passionate about doughnuts, testing new combinations and consulting customers on how to improve the brand. He even invented a new doughnut creation – the Eggnut, a breakfast sandwich the chain is now looking into introducing at locations throughout the U.S. Here's what Prygocki has learned about entrepreneurship in the doughnut business.
Name: Mark Prygocki
Franchise owned: Fractured Prune Doughnuts in Arizona
How long have you owned a franchise?
We purchased the Arizona rights to the Fractured Prune Doughnuts franchise on Sept. 17, 2013. This was our first franchising opportunity.
My wife, Karen, and I were attracted to the thought of being our own bosses, creating an organizational structure focused on teamwork, providing employment to hundreds of Arizonians and giving back to our community. Fractured Prune Doughnuts is a 40-year tradition on the East Coast, but was unheard of in Arizona. This was a unique opportunity to bring a product that Easterners are passionate about to a new state. There are over 2,000 different doughnut combinations that are made-to-order and served hot right in front of you. Each doughnut is as unique as the imagination of the customer ordering them. We couldn’t wait to bring this fantastic product and concept to our family and friends here in Arizona.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I worked for Ernst & Young and at an investment firm on Wall Street before starting my career in pharmaceuticals. I’ve spent over 23 years in the pharmaceutical industry working in corporate strategy and operational efficiency at Medicis, the company that launched the largest dermatology product in the world, Solodyn, as well as Ziana, Restylane, Dysport and Zyclara. I started at Medicis as controller, and worked my way up to becoming president in 2010. At the time of its acquisition in 2012, the organization was worth $2.6 billion.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
We believed this was a unique opportunity to be able to launch an already proven brand on the East Coast in Arizona. Additionally, we were able to purchase the franchise rights for all of Arizona, our home state.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
We have big plans for the brand. We continue to invest in the awareness of Fractured Prune Doughnuts in Arizona. We plan on introducing many more locations throughout the state. We are currently on target to launch five locations in less than one year from the opening of our first location on April 29, 2014. While the exact numbers are confidential, our intimate group of investors are planning on spending well over $1 million dollars to launch even more Fractured Prune Doughnut locations in Arizona.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I am a big believer that there is not a monopoly on brains and once we think we know it all, we will have lost. We have received and will continue to receive advice for many years to come. Businesses, including Fractured Prune Doughnuts, will continue to evolve and improve. It is with the assistance of many people we have surrounded ourselves with that will help us continue to be a relevant brand for years to come. We listen to a variety of people when soliciting advice, from our customers, employees, friends, vendors, the internet, chamber of commerce and franchisees with various companies.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
I think the most unexpected challenge we face in opening our locations is the level of detail and complexity involved in the design, governmental permit and construction processes. The time and detail involved in this process should not be underestimated. We are so thankful to have a fantastic partner in Salcito Custom Homes and PHX Architecture to guide us through the process. Each of our locations faced their own design and construction challenges and I can’t imagine what we would have done without the sound advice, guidance and leadership from them.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
The advice we would give to others who are considering franchising is to find a business you are passionate about, pay attention to the details, surround yourself with a great team and don’t underestimate how much time you need to commit to your new venture. Good businesses do not run themselves. It all begins with the love of your product and your attention to detail. If you love your brand, then your employees, customers and vendors will feel that passion. Once you have conveyed that passion, it’s really the team that brings your brand to life. You cannot always be there. The team has to be an extension of you and share your passion.
Additionally, listen to your customers. The advent of social media has provided business owners with an invaluable tool to understand customer perspectives, create brand awareness and effect change. Use it!
What’s next for you and your business?
We are very excited about the future for Fractured Prune Doughnuts Arizona. Our collective vision is to continue to find great employees to help us expand to new locations in Arizona from five to approximately 15 in several years. We are hard at work looking for the next great location for Fractured Prune Doughnuts in Arizona. We continue to receive advice from our customers who would love us to be “closer to them.” This is the greatest form of feedback we can receive. We appreciate that our customers share our passion for our made-to-order doughnuts, customized to their taste. We are very enthusiastic about sharing our unique concept, giving back to the communities in which we serve, providing employment for hundreds of people in Arizona and to help shape future business leaders.