People Skills is Secret Sauce for Success Says Russo’s Star Franchisee

February 18, 2018

Guillermo Medellin has expanded to three Houston locations over a few short years and credits winning pizza franchise recipe and staff for impressive growth

Guillermo Medellin knows how to translate customer service skills from one field to the other. He worked in the manufacturing industry in Mexico and has applied much of that know-how to the restaurant franchise he now is a thriving member of, Russo’s.

Medellin, a multi-unit Russo’s franchisee, owns three locations of the Italian restaurant franchise in the Houston area where he resides: Woodlands, Conroe and Spring. All three are built out in Russo’s signature New York Pizzeria ® style. This franchise model is suited for the lunch guest in a rush as it features fast and friendly counter service where a slice of pizza and salad can be ready in under seven minutes.

Russo’s award-winning pizza anchors the New York Pizzeria ® and is complemented by a mouthwatering selection of appetizers, salads and pasta dishes and beer and wine. The NY pizzeria model recreates the atmosphere of authentic Italian-style pizzerias where everything is made from scratch with hand-picked ingredients, a recipe that has proven to be a hit for Medellin in all three of his locations. While takeout and delivery are primary drivers for this franchise model, which Medellin has seen success with, customers can choose to dine in as well in a fast-casual environment.

Medellin has been with the Russo’s family since 2009 when he moved from Mexico. He started out by purchasing an existing location before building out two more in short order in 2014 and 2015. What about the Russo’s pizza franchise appealed to him? “The concept itself is excellent—fresh, New York-style, brick-oven pizza and original recipes are created with fresh and natural ingredients,” Medellin points out. From all indicators, the Houston-area customers can’t get enough. They appreciate that they can dine in a casual, pleasant New York pizzeria ambiance and the delicious food, made following chef Russo’s tried and tested recipes, keeps them coming back for more.

Medellin leveraged his experience in the manufacturing industry and successfully applied those skills to an Italian restaurant franchise. Being on call seven days a week comes with the territory of owning a restaurant franchise, Medellin says, but he is grateful to have great managers, who have made a world of difference. It’s one of the many things he enjoys about his job. “I love working with people and seeing them grow as professionals. Together, we feel our best when our customers give us positive feedback. We love serving our customers,” Medellin says.

It is that passion for customer service and people skills that has earned Medellin an impressive growth streak in the pizza franchise business and to win Russo’s Restaurants coveted Franchisee of the Year Award in 2017. The award is presented by participating franchisors and honors sales achievements, dedication to industry advocacy and community leadership. In accepting the award, Medellin said he was honored to have been recognized and that the award was a testament to the hard work that his team puts in each and every day at all three locations and to the strength of “the amazing people we have on board to help us to do so. I can’t wait to celebrate the award with my team,” Medellin added.

Chef Anthony Russo, the creative culinary genius behind the brand who also serves as its CEO, said the award recognized Medellin’s passion for the business. “He’s willing to put in hard work, learn and help others. And, while we have dozens of incredible franchisees in our network, Guillermo really set himself apart this year–I couldn’t think of someone more deserving of our ‘Franchise of the Year’ award.”

Medellin’s advice to potential franchisees looking for pizza franchise opportunities: “ Be sure that you understand the restaurant industry and the demands of a business of this kind. I have found that in a hospitality/customer service-oriented field, a good basic understanding of business management is key, and experience leading and motivating people are necessary for success.” He points out that he treats employees with respect. “We offer them competitive wages and give them ample opportunity for promotion,” Medellin adds.

That recipe, along with Russo’s NY pizzeria mouthwatering dishes and rotating restaurant specials, all topped with stellar customer service has helped Medellin achieve an impressive growth track. His expansion has mostly been self-funded although he does have a small group of private investors. Medellin hopes one day to have ten Russo’s locations open including one in Mexico City. Throughout, Medellin continues to stand by a simple business philosophy: Keep it simple and maintain a trusting environment. With the Russo’s pizza franchise, he is able to do just that.

As for what Medellin’s favorite dishes at Russo’s? It’s hard to pick, he admits. “But my top selections are the Spinach, Kale & Artichoke Pizza, Penne a la Vodka, Prosciutto Arugula Pizzoto, Eggplant Rollatini, Chicken and Kale Pesto Pasta and Tomato Basil Soup.”

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