Multi-Unit Franchisee Grows His Marco’s Pizza Empire to 60-Plus Stores in Six Years
Journey of Mega Growth Leader: Robert Pina Inks One of the Largest Franchisee Deals in Marco’s Brand History
Robert Pina has always been in the franchise business. After opening up more than a dozen sub sandwich restaurants and wing shops, he was ready for something new. With intimate knowledge and success as a franchisee, he had a strong desire to progress to area developer status. The next step was finding a good quality product, and Marco’s Pizza was his answer.
Love at First Bite
When Pina packed his family into the car to try Marco’s for the first time, they were not expecting much; but after a whole meal of pizza, wings, salads, and sandwiches, they were sold. Pina fell in love with Marco’s quality product and decided it was an opportunity he could not pass up.
“There are dozens of competitors in the pizza space, but when deciding on your investment, you must prioritize having a competitive advantage in the form of your product,” said Pina. “Having a superior product gives you the basic foundation you need to scale.”
At the crux of Marco’s ongoing success is its renowned product – Marco’s has carved out a niche in the industry for its high-quality pizza, known for its dough made from scratch for a craveable golden crust, freshly mixed herbs and spices for a sauce worth savoring, and three fresh signature cheeses for a perfect, melty bite.
History with Marco’s
Pina joined the brand in 2011 as an area representative and franchisee. He currently oversees development in Houston and San Antonio with his business partner Uyen Tran, together boasting 68 stores, 20 of which are owned by Pina. As both growth and store expansion continue to surge, there are an additional 25 locations in development across both markets.
Over the years, Pina has become an established, top-performing Marco’s franchisee. His DMA experienced a year-over-year sales increases, and as a leader in the system, he’s earned the achievement of opening the most Marco’s locations among all area representatives during 2020-2021.
But he is not ready to stop anytime soon. He recently signed a 46-store development agreement that will bring new stores to the Phoenix metro market over the next six years.
This agreement marks one of Marco’s largest franchisee deals in brand history. As the sole developer, Pina will bring 46 stores to the greater Phoenix market by 2028. Six stores are projected to open in the next 18-months, with the first store slated to open in Q3 2022 as site selection is well underway.
“I’ve always wanted to continue to grow with Marco’s because it’s a special brand. The timing was right to pursue the next opportunity – Phoenix was that answer,” said Pina. “With only one Marco’s location in the Phoenix DMA, there is an incredible opportunity to build out the market and bring a quality product to the pizza lovers of this community. Over the past few years, we’ve been on a phenomenal growth curve as a brand and particularly in my other two markets. With the right concept, a proven track record, and national advertising helping grow brand awareness, now was the time to really push the pedal to the medal and grow.”
Secret to Mega Growth Multi-Unit Success
Not only is Pina a mega growth leader, but he’s a mega growth performer who truly understands the power of exceptional customer service. By prioritizing Marco’s cultural belief of ‘Hospitality Always,’ he’s been able to increase bottom line results paving the way for more development opportunities.
Pina has a deep understanding of the value in building a strong team that in turn delivers exceptional guest experiences. Pina’s message, “Strive to establish a positive emotional connection with your team members and your customers – it will lead to consistent and reliable results that will open the door to even more opportunity.”
Opportune Time for Expansion
Marco’s is experiencing record-breaking double-digit same-store-sales increases year-over-year and is on track to reach $1B in annual systemwide sales in 2022. Beyond performance, Marco’s is on the fast-track to achieving its growth goal of 1,500 stores open and operating by the end of 2023.
“I’ve been with Marco’s for 11 years and can confidently say that the level of sophistication and detail of the franchise development program has never been stronger,” said Pina. “Marco’s makes it easy to become an empire builder in the system. If you’re looking to grow a robust pizza portfolio, you won’t find a more dedicated and supportive team than this. Marco’s leadership and devotion to franchise growth and franchisee support is simply unmatched.”
As franchise development continues to surge, leadership prioritizes investments in new technology, personnel, strategic vendor partnerships, and more to accelerate the brand’s growth strategy. For example, Marco’s recently announced the investment of millions of dollars in technology innovations through the next few years. Such projects include voice-to-text ordering, the continued adoption of third-party delivery, in which Marco’s has experienced 610% growth in just two years, utilizing AI for generating automated promise times, vetting and testing automated kitchen innovations, ghost kitchens, and new operational equipment.
“There’s never been a more opportune time to grow with Marco’s,” said Pina. “With plenty of territories available for growth and the continued prioritization on innovation and maximizing unit-level profitability – it was a no brainer to strike while the iron is hot.”
Pina’s focus on operational excellence shines through his stores’ performance and his desire to grow the Marco’s brand is emphasized by his aggressive development plans. Not only is he viewed as a strong and successful multi-unit franchisee, but as a leader and role model to other aspiring multi-unit operators throughout the industry.