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Franchise Interview with Arizona Pizza

Arizona Pizza Franchise
Franchise Interviews meets with the Arizona Pizza franchise

Franchise Interviews- What were you doing before starting Arizona Pizza Company?

Bill Stevens- I owned multiple restaurants. I have been in the restaurant business since I was 20 years old. Arizona Pizza was the culmination of all the different restaurants that I owned.

Franchise Interviews- What were some of the factors that made you decide to go into your own business? Many entrepreneurs we interview knew at an early age they wanted to go into their own business. Did you have the same experience?

Bill Stevens- My grandmother always told me as a little kid how I would be very successful as well as a millionaire. Your question makes me think back to my first paper route. I tried to get a paper route when I was real young and my mother wouldn't let me.

Franchise Interviews- Do you remember how old you were?

Bill Stevens- I want to say I was around 11 years old and remember I had to beg my mother. I couldn't get a job anywhere because I was too young. The paper route was almost like owning your own business. The way it worked was the papers came to your home. At the end of the week you collected all your money and then you had to pay the publisher "x" amount of dollars and anything left over you got to keep.

Franchise Interviews- What were some of the biggest obstacles you had to overcome in starting Arizona Pizza Company?

arizonapizza1.jpgBill Stevens- The one obstacle for most people is money. The biggest obstacle for me in the beginning was understanding all the documentation. We already had a great system in place with Arizona Pizza Company. However, it had to be documented, and that took a whole year to put all of that information together.  The reason I started Arizona Pizza Company was I kept creating restaurant concepts and then opening up new restaurants. I was on restaurant number 4 and said to myself I should design a package that I could replicate over and over again. I didn't originally intend to franchise the concept, but I knew I wanted to be in the restaurant business on a larger scale.

Franchise Interviews- Did you know Arizona Pizza Company was going to work as well as it did?

Bill Stevens- I had a strong feeling Arizona Pizza Company was going to work but never thought as well as it did. As I previously stated, I never planned on franchising the concept. I did plan on building some more restaurants for myself. A franchise attorney from out of state ate at the restaurant during his summer vacation. He had a second home in the area and he read about the opening in the newspaper. The casual dining atmosphere was enhanced by the wood-burning pizza oven, the Southwestern theme, signature pizza and pasta dishes, and cable television sets strategically placed throughout the restaurant.surprised at how smooth the operation ran. He called me about franchising the Arizona Pizza Company concept. For me, I just enjoy building these restaurants and putting them together.

Franchise Interviews- What factors do you contribute to your success with Arizona Pizza Company?

Bill Stevens- There is no cutting corners. We use the best products consistently. We give a great product at an inexpensive price. The whole concept was developed with the family and kids in mind, yet geared toward a broad demographic base that included families, singles, old and young. I know every aspect of this business. I understand the needs of the different types of customers. I know all the pieces of the puzzle from menu development, equipment, financial planning and cooking. I have done every single job and I know it so well. 

The success of the first restaurant eventually lead to the development of the Arizona Pizza system in 2001, when Bill's third restaurant featuring the same theme and much of the same menu, but with greater emphasis on efficiency and economy, opened in Lenox, Massachusetts.

Franchise Interviews- Why did you choose the restaurant industry?

Bill Stevens- There was an old pizza place for sale and I said I am going to try that. In a million years I didn't think I would be a restaurateur.

Franchise Interviews- What is a typical day like as an Arizona Pizza franchisee?

Bill Stevens- I will tell you why an Arizona Pizza is a great franchise. It's not as large as investment or even as big as an Applebees or Chili's. It's a smaller scale restaurant but you're not the guy behind the counter of a deli making the subs. You are more like a project manager than a hands-on worker. You do the accounting of sales from the previous day. You also might put in and receive your orders and then be at the hostess deck seating customers.

Franchise Interviews- What type of skills does someone need to have to become an Arizona Pizza Company franchisee?

Bill Stevens- Strong organizational skills and the ability to multi-task. Also the drive to work and be your own boss is important.



Franchise Interviews- What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to buy a franchise?

Bill Stevens- To not just be focused on the fees and the royalties. They have to research what is a typical day like as a franchisee. They also need to look at the history and experience of the franchisor.

Franchise Interviews- How has your life changed since starting Arizona Pizza?

Bill Stevens- It has changed for the better because now I have more people working for me. I am starting to do the things I like to do like and am good at -- such as evaluating and improving our systems, and designing and building restaurants

FranchiseInterviewsYourmessageheard.jpgFranchise Interviews- How big would you like to see Arizona Pizza Company get?

Bill Stevens- The sky is the limit. Our menu is designed for all kinds of people. We want to bring Arizona Pizza as far as we can. We have a different product. We opened up in the land of the giants. We are in a mile radius of all of the biggest competitors in the United States. We are next to the Cheesecake Factory, Applebees and Chili's. People always comments on the fact we are so unique. We figured out a way from all the years of owning restaurants how to do things. We are able to make our lunches and dinners to order where many of our competitors are prepackaging. We also offer a combination of service methods that meet the customers' needs, e.g. take-out, eat-in, curbside delivery.

We have developed a system that provides quality food at an economical price and an atmosphere that appeals to of customers of all ages and groups.