By Kym Wolfe

Amy and Jimmy Melo are multiple franchise owners who opened their first Little Caesars store in 2009, and expect to own 10 stores by the end of 2016. Amy is a bookkeeper by trade, and one of her former clients in Kitchener-Waterloo was a Little Caesars franchisee.

Jimmy grew up surrounded by food – his father ran a restaurant and catering business. When he was younger, he worked in the family business and then for a restaurant chain.

The Melos began to look at opening their own Little Caesars location, but not in Kitchener-Waterloo, because they didn’t want to step on Amy’s client’s toes. “We opened our first store in Mississauga, and six months later, we moved there,” she says.

The Melos spent long hours in their first store, an experience that is the norm for new franchisees, says Roger Aube, Director Operations & Development in Canada. “We recommend that Little Caesars franchisees start as owner/operators. As they build and add new locations, they can bring in managers, but stay involved. For school lunch programs, for example, the pizza is usually delivered by the franchise owner.”

New franchise owners will typically receive three days of in-class training focused on site selection, construction, and equipment requirements, and one week of business training focused on administrative paperwork and the back-of-house operational requirements. There will be five weeks of hands-on training in an approved training store. The Melos run a training store, and often act as mentors for new franchisees. “We have a lot of knowledge and we’re happy to help. Little Caesars is like a family; we really want each other to succeed.”

Franchisees are encouraged to reach out and connect with each other. There are two annual conferences, one in Las Vegas and one in Canada, where franchisees are able to build and strengthen connections with other franchisees. In between times they often communicate, share ideas, and provide a sounding board for each other.

Franchising for Little Caesars is so attractive, a number of corporate employees who have left head office have opened their own stores. There are also a number of store employees who have gone on to open their own franchises.

That’s happening with the Melos this year, with one of their long-term employees, Amandeep Ahluwalia, becoming a partner in their new Etobicoke store. “Amandeep was one of the first employees we hired in 2009,” says Amy. “She worked her way up to manager, and is now the area supervisor for all of our stores. She’s the one who gets our new stores up and running and trains our new managers. We made a promise to her years ago that one day we would partner with her, and now that we are breaking into the Toronto market, it seems like a good time to do that.”  Amandeep and her husband Kunal will own a 50 per cent share of the Etobicoke location. Like the Melos, their goal is to build a strong business to leave to their children.

Adapted from the September/October issue of FranchiseCanada. Check out the current issue of FranchiseCanada, on newsstands now, or you can order your subscription by calling 1-800-665-4232 ext. 224.