From Soldier to Caesars: Former Marine Takes The Plunge Into Franchising

Former U.S. Marine Sergeant Steve Brevitz always dreamed of having his own business. Thanks in part to the Little Caesars Veterans Program he recently opened the doors to his first Little Caesars in Manassas, Virginia. He hopes it won't be his last.

Brevitz, who grew up in Battle Creek, Michigan, served as an Artillery Scout Observer. He eventually earned the ranking of Sergeant before later re-enlisting and being deployed to Iraq twice.

Following his return home, Brevitz spent some time in the industry before looking into franchising. "I researched several franchise opportunities and I kept coming back to Little Caesars because of the Little Caesars Veterans Program and the experience they have in franchising," he says.

He also liked the fact that Little Caesars is based in his home state of Michigan. "I am proud to now be a part of a company that I was so familiar with when I lived in Michigan. I grew up eating Little Caesars Pizza, now I get to make it, that's exciting for me."

We had a chance to visit with Brevitz and find out more about his new life in franchising.

Were there any skills you learned/used in the military that apply now to operating your franchise business?
First and foremost it's the sense of urgency the Marine Corps taught me. I know I'm no longer dealing with lives at risk, but this is my livelihood and I take that very serious. I am also able to stay focused on achieving a goal much better after the time in the Marine Corps.

Anything else that helped prepare you for operating a franchise?
I talked with a lot of Little Caesars franchisees before actually committing. I think asking them and seeing how their days are now and also what they did before they first opened their stores was important. However, that being said, there really is no way to prepare for it like we could prepare for things in the military. There is always a difference between and talking about something, and actually doing it!

Why did you choose a franchise in the industry?
I had worked at a Bennigan's restaurant as a server/bartender and also Bill Knapp's prior to joining the Marine Corps. There is just something about the fast pace in the food industry that keeps it fun! I have been working 12 to 16 hour days since we opened and they feel like they are done before I know it.

What led you to select Little Caesars?
My wife and I moved out to Virginia when I took a job as a civilian contractor and was over in Iraq supporting that job for 13 months. While I was over there I was investing in properties and started to search for something more, something I could build a business around. Since I'm from Michigan, where Little Caesars was founded, I remembered them. So I looked into it and did what was needed to get the store.

What has benefitted you most from Little Caesars corporate (training, marketing support, field support, etc.)?
Little Caesars corporate has been great! They answer any and all of your questions. They really do help their franchisees out with anything that is needed. The six-week training course was so professional and helped me tremendously. Four of the weeks were spent in the store doing every job there is, from dishes to management, and even shaker boarding. Their field support is also very helpful. For the first week I was open I had two corporate employees here from open to close helping me keep up with the initial rush of the grand opening. Then I had another corporate employee here the second week from lunch until after dinner just making sure I could handle it. They really do ensure their franchisees succeed.

What is your management style/philosophy?
First and foremost, I treat my employees with respect, the way they should treat me. They are the reason we are open and continue to serve the community with great pizzas. I expect them to do the right thing, even when no one is watching. Most of the employees are young, and this may be their first job. So they don't quite know what to expect. I set those expectations and make sure they meet them. They must show up on time, in the proper uniform, with a good attitude, and do what is asked of them.

What are your core values for running a business?
Go the extra mile for the customer. No matter what the circumstances you have to keep the customer happy. Word of mouth is the best marketing out there. If I can make one customer happy, he will tell three more people. That's how you build a thriving, successful business.

Do you plan to open additional units/brands? When, where, and which ones?
Yes, I hope to own more Little Caesars down the road. For now, one is enough until I can get this one running to its best potential and then I will begin to look into store number two. As to where and when, I'm still asking myself those questions.

How are you facing the challenge of finding and retaining good employees?
It's challenging! That is by far the hardest part of the job, finding hard working motivated workers for the pay that I can afford to provide. I am still in the process now of trying to find the good ones I will need here.

What goals and objectives do you have for your franchise business?
To grow, but to grow at a pace that is doable and maintainable. I do not want to be that franchisee who opens a bunch of stores and really doesn't care about them just as long as they are making money. I want to be a part of any and all of them.

As a franchisee, what does a regular work week entail for you?
Right now, it consists of open to close, everyday. I did however just hire an assistant manager who will be taking some of that load off of my shoulders soon.

What's been your greatest accomplishment as a franchisee so far?
I think just getting a store open for me was my greatest accomplishment. I am still very young, only 27, and I already have a Little Caesars and some rental homes. I learned a lot in my childhood through my parent's mistakes and I will not make the same.

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