Kimberly Lombardi is the owner of a Pizza Factory franchise in Phelan, California. She is one of Franchise Business Review’s 2018 Rockstar Franchisees!
What advice do you have for someone considering investing in a franchise? A franchise is similar to raising a child. Be prepared to love, nurture and go through the growing pains from birth to maturity. Expect to enjoy all the excitement it will bring and don’t let the adversity get you down. Set realistic goals and take positive steps every day to make the goals come to fruition. Watch what other successful people do and emulate it. Be excited and passionate about what your business will do for your community and take all the knowledge and expertise your Franchisor gives to you and run with it. Investing in a franchise means you do not have to “go it alone,” and that you’ll get a family-like support system surrounding you.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your career in franchising? My husband and I are extremely proud of our community support over the past 32 years. From the very beginning, we have always tried to give back by donating our time, our facility, other resources , or advertising in local events, papers, schools, etc. When an event occurs, good or bad, we’ve been able to use our resources to help those in need. Our community is our family and it’s humbling when we hear them talk about our store as one of the most giving places in our town. It is nice to know that our community feels that way about us. We are grateful that our store has been able to make a difference in the eyes of our community. People always thank us for what we do to support our community but the true thanks is from us to our community for their support.
What was your career path before you entered franchising? I was in college and had just started accounting classes. I wasn’t sure just what I wanted to do with my future at that time but I was already working at the Pizza Factory in Phelan part-time. Brian, the owner, was working hard to run the store since he had just bought out his partner, and decided he would love it if I could use my accounting skills to help him with the bookkeeping and marketing. He was then able to keep his focus on the everyday operations of making Pizzas and growing in the community. We worked well together as a team and were able to support each other in what we were both good at. Soon after, we were married and it has been 32 years of love, family and of course, lots of pizza.
As a business owner, what has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome? In our 32 years of business, one of the most pivotal times that I remember to be the biggest challenge was also one of the biggest life lessons in business: competition. When we opened our Pizza Factory back in 1986, it was a small town with a bar, post office, small grocery store, hardware store and a couple other businesses. Even though we were in this tiny town and were one of the only places to eat, which made our store very successful from the beginning, we were so extremely proud to be serving incredible food that kept our customers coming back weekly for more. We had a great run for about 9 years and then it came… Competition. It hit us so quickly, we didn’t know what to expect. What we learned is that especially in a small town, new places to eat are always very exciting for people. And for about 11 months, we suffered with not knowing how much more of a loss we could expect with this well-known franchise taking a portion of our business. We kept our focus. We tried to keep a positive outlook even though we felt broadsided and eventually the thrill was over for the town and we gained our customers back. Now, with the growth of our town, we have realistic expectations that any restaurant that comes in to our town will take a portion of our proceeds but we don’t sweat it. As my husband says, “It can knock you down but if you keep focused, keep moving forward and do the right thing, the business will come back.” And, he’s been right.
What do you like most about your franchise organization? When I think of Pizza Factory, there are a few things that stand out in my mind. We have always had an exceptional product. When my husband decided that he wanted to go into business for himself, he started to weigh out his options and had looked at another franchise business. But he didn’t need to look any further than his local Pizza Factory. He knew that their products were high quality, the food was delicious and the family atmosphere was just what he wanted to be part of when starting his own franchise.
I also think about the great support system Pizza Factory Inc. has in place. Whether it’s the corporate office staff, the marketing team, or the food quality control and research, we get answers and help quickly when we need it. Pizza Factory also has a great community outreach program, for example, putting “No Bullying” Benches in the schools. Our Franchisor is very proactive with helping us to get into our schools and to help us make a difference in our community with our “No Bullying” initiative.
We feel blessed that we have been with our franchise since its inception, over 32 years ago. We have seen it blossom from a new franchise to a passionate company that cares about its people and truly wants to help us prosper.