Dan DiZio, CEO and Co-Founder of Philly Pretzel Factory, shares why he decided to franchise.
Dan DiZio stumbled into both the entrepreneurial world and soft pretzel industry at the young age of 11. His neighbor owned a bakery in a small town outside of Philadelphia and approached DiZio about selling pretzels on a busy street corner in Philadelphia with an agreement that the two of them would split the sales for the day. The one-time experience soon turned into a part-time gig and eventually a full-time commitment for DiZio; setting up shop every day after school, on the weekends and throughout the summer.
After completing high school, DiZio attended college at East Stroudsburg University where he met Len Lehman. Lehman became his business partner and eventually the Co-Founder of Philly Pretzel Factory. The two entrepreneurs capitalized on the college party scene by creating a company that offered cleaning services to fraternities after large parties.
After graduating, the men took 9-to-5 jobs; DiZio a stockbroker and Lehman a counselor. They quickly became dissatisfied with the careers they were pursuing. DiZio thought back to when he was making hundreds of dollars a day selling pretzels on a street corner at age 11. He approached Lehman with the idea to start a pretzel concept called Philly Pretzel Factory.
“I decided to get back to my roots and convinced Len to invest in a pretzel bakery,” said DiZio. “We opened our first location in 1998, and the concept was a success, allowing us to open up ten stores in total over the next seven years between ourselves and with friends.”
In 2005, DiZio received a call from a prospective investor looking to franchise with the brand. Having no experience in franchising and little knowledge on the business format, DiZio initially ignored the request. However, after meeting with a lawyer to discuss specifics and talking with Lehman, DiZio began seriously considering franchising Philly Pretzel Factory.
“We had ten stores at the time, all flourishing, but we needed an extra push to allow us to open stores quickly before competition would come along and copy our concept,” said DiZio. “After looking into it, franchising was ultimately the best option that would allow us to scale quickly.”
DiZio and Lehman sold all of the stores to franchise owners except the founding location, and led the team to revamp the brand’s growth strategy for franchising, allowing the expansion into territories that would’ve otherwise been untapped.
“Our first ten stores were all within a 45 minute range from one another due to the fact that we had limited resources to oversee so many corporate stores,” said DiZio. “After franchising, we were able to grow at a much faster pace and within a much larger area.”
For DiZio, it’s been a dream come true franchising Philly Pretzel Factory. The brand is close to hitting 200 stores, an accomplishment Dan said would have never been possible without franchising his business.
“The reward of having my own dreams brought to life through Philly Pretzel Factory’s success is obviously very rewarding, but what I really enjoy and find extremely satisfying is watching franchisees prosper in their own lives through our business model,” said DiZio.