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A Family-and-Friends Focus Group Gave This Franchise a Thumbs-Up That's one reason Andrew Porter jumped in to Sarpino's Pizzeria. But he loved its fresh ingredients, too.

By Joan Oleck

Andrew Porter
Andrew Porter of Sarpino's 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 ktaylor@entrepreneur.com

"The freshness, plain and simple," was Andrew Porter's core reason for investing in two Sarpino's Pizzeria restaurants in Kansas City five years ago. The second was the "yes" vote his homegrown friends and family focus group gave. The third reason? Owning his own business had been Porter's dream the first 13 years he worked in the restaurant industry: He got his start, literally, washing dishes.

Name: Andrew Porter

Franchise owned: Two Sarpino's Pizzeria restaurants in Kansas City, Missouri

How long have you owned a franchise? I have been with Sarpino's for five years, but have been in the restaurant business for the past 18 years.

Related: Franchise Players: From Making Minimum Wage to Running the Show

Why franchising? Owning my own business became a dream of mine early in my career, but I understood my limitations. Once I felt that I had a firm understanding of all aspects of the industry, I decided it was time.

What were you doing before you became a franchise owner? I've been in the restaurant business for the past 18 years. I started doing dishes and worked my way up.

Why did you choose this particular franchise? The freshness, plain and simple. Everything about us is fresh, from the food to the service. We use the best and freshest foods that we can find.

Related: Can Fast Food Be Healthy? One Franchise Is Proving the Point and Profiting.

How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business? My location on Westport Road, Kansas City, was about $210,000, including equipment and construction costs. My Vivion Road location in Kansas City was about $260,000.

Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research? When I became interested in Sarpino's, I held a focus group among my friends and family to get their feedback on the food and service. Once they gave me the thumbs-up on the quality and flavor, I knew I could be successful with this franchise.

What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise? The biggest challenge was learning how to balance running two locations, but once I was able to develop a solid team, it became much easier and less stressful.

What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise? Understand the demographics and customers of the franchise. Talk to current franchisees; they are a great source of information. Finally, have a plan, not just on how to open your franchise, but a personal plan as well. You need to have personal goals for yourself.

What's next for you and your business? Expansion: I want to grow. Not only in my current restaurants but also by opening more locations.

Related: Top 120 Restaurant Franchises

Joan Oleck

Entrepreneur Staff

Associate Editor

Joan Oleck is an associate contributors editor at Entrepreneur. She has previously worked for Business Week, Newsday and the trade magazine Restaurant Business, where a cover story she wrote won the Jesse Neal Award.

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