With 2,415 units in the United States, Little Caesars Pizza is continuing to grow in these tough economic times by recruiting franchisees from the growing ranks of former auto industry careerists who’ve lost their jobs due to cutbacks, said Dave Scrivano, the company’s president. This outreach to individuals who’ve been victimized by turmoil in the auto industry, much of which is headquartered in Detroit, also where Little Caesars is based, is a departure for the pizza chain, which usually seeks out bigger investors.
Why did you decide to reach out to former autoworkers in need of a career change?
Being headquartered in a city with a strong automotive heritage, we are well aware of the hardships the auto industry is facing and how it can be difficult for autoworkers transitioning out of that industry to determine the next step in their careers.
Little Caesars provides an opportunity for individuals from any industry seeking more independence as business owners.
How many of your newer franchisees came from the auto industry?
Right now we have 13, and the vast majority of them have come in the last year and all of them within four years. Five of them took buyouts and turned them into starting their own business. Some are building their second and third stores already.
What positions did they formerly hold, and does their job experience translate to being a franchisee?
They were line workers, engineers, marketing people in dealership sales. There are a lot of skills they’ve learned—attention to detail, managing people, team-building. They apply those skills, and it’s a natural fit for many people to be a leader.
Have they needed additional training beyond your usual program?
They all go through our six-week training program and have done very well. They adapted quickly. They all passed and are off and running. We offer full architectural, real estate and construction help, particularly with first-time franchisees.
Have many of them had to relocate to markets where more stores are needed?
Some have relocated, but most stay in the towns where they were employed. They’re in Michigan, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina, Alabama and as far away as Texas. We’re recruiting now for the Northeast [a major targeted and virtually untapped market for the brand], St. Louis and Cincinnati.
How has your veterans recruiting program figured into this?
Two former autoworkers went into the military and then came to us through our veterans program and have done very well.
Do you plan to recruit more franchisees who have left the auto industry?
No question. We continue to see the auto industry looking to give more buyouts and early retirement, so we are recruiting them.