Workers Reveal What It's Really Like To Work At Marco's Pizza

Marco's Pizza — the home of the award-winning white cheezy pizza — has been acting like that annoying top performer in your class. In just a few years it managed to bag a handful of recognitions. It was found to be America's most loved and trusted pizza brand by Harris Poll Equitrend Study in 2019, came among the top in Entrepreneur Magazine's Franchise 500 ranking in 2021, and was selected as one of the best customer service experiences in Newsweek's 2023 ranking (via Restaurant News Release). The customers clearly love it, but how do the employees feel about working there?

While more than half the staff would recommend the company to a friend (via Glassdoor), no one sees it as a long-term opportunity. According to the job search site Zippia, employees stay for an average of 2.7 years before moving on. But during that time, they get to learn how to make a traditional Italian pizza crust and even participate in a National pizza championship. Here's what Marco's employees think about working at the longstanding pizza chain.

They get to compete in pizza-making contests

Those who can make pizza at lightning speed have a chance to shine at Marco's Pizza. The chain organizes an annual contest at its headquarters in Toledo, Ohio, during which hundreds of employees across the country battle it out to earn the coveted title of "fastest and most accurate pizza maker" (via The Daily Times). Besides the right to gloat, the fastest pizza maker gets to take home some extra cash. In 2018, it went to the general manager of a Tennessee location who whipped up a perfect pepperoni pizza in 48 seconds and went home with $2,000. 

Aside from speed, contestants are also scored for the number of pepperoni slices they lay on the pie (around 40 is considered ideal). Over time, just as in the field of athletics, the record time has reduced to as low as 21.73 seconds in 2022 (via QSR Magazine). The event is obviously not a 100-meter Olympic sprint, but it functions as a means to raise the employees' overall morale. And as per the 2018 champion's feedback, it seems to be working: "It's a boost of confidence," the winner told The Daily Times.

It can involve more than just pizza

Dim lights, a gripping movie, and a large pizza within reach are the essence of weekends. Marco's Pizza passed this vibe check when it announced in 2012 that its delivery drivers would bring you the movie of your choice along with your pizza. The chain partnered with Family Video, a movie and video game rental business, to allow customers to order a movie with their pie (via Chicago Tribune). As per the arrangement, customers simply had to tell the restaurant staff if they wanted a movie or game to be delivered with their food order (via Wisconsin Rapids Tribune).

The partnership meant that the two businesses worked in tandem to satisfy food and entertainment desires. A staff member from Family Video would hand over the specific DVD to someone from Marco's Pizza, who would then deliver it to the customer with their meal. With this format, it wasn't uncommon for employees to deliver Fifa 13, wings, and dessert on the same trip. Once the customers were done viewing the DVD or playing the game, they could hand it back to the pizza delivery person the next time they ordered a pie.

Co-workers may have a secret identity

Taking a break to vent about your boss might be a little tricky at Marco's Pizza. There is no way to know if that enthusiastic new employee is someone from the chain's upper management acting as an undercover employee (via Marcos). The company introduced a policy in 2016 to make corporate staff members work onsite once a year doing jobs they otherwise wouldn't, like delivering or making pizzas, attending to customers, and so on.

The idea came up after the chain's COO, Bryon Stephens, wore the Marco's Pizza uniform and cap, gave himself the identity of a new employee Jay Stephens, and tried blending in with the others as part of the Emmy-winning reality series "Undercover Boss." "The discoveries I made during the journey were eye-opening," he shared.

Some tasks were so tough that he had to quit midway, such as working on the truck at the chain's pizza distribution center. What started off as Stephens' pursuit to find out what issues were straining the system caused employees to look at every newcomer with a bit of suspicion.

Those on the delivery side earn more through tips

Pizza delivery drivers might not have the safest job out there, but according to some who work at Marco's Pizza, it pays more than other positions. Employment sites Indeed and Glassdoor both list the role as one of the most popular jobs at the chain restaurant. It's not surprising when you see that Indeed lists the delivery driver's hourly salary as around $17 — more than what the shift manager makes at about $15 per hour. 

Meanwhile, a delivery driver in Wilmington, North Carolina, candidly wrote on Glassdoor: "In it for the tips." A Redditor's advice to anyone seeking a job at the chain was: "Get a job delivering, you'll make way more in tips than you ever would slaving away in the kitchen for an hourly." 

But even those who are not looking at the role with dollar eyes seem to like it for other reasons. Someone who worked as a delivery driver at the chain for eight months commented, "I liked it cause you have your own car, you listen to your own music, and are out of the store most of the time" (via Reddit).

Hazardous practices with young employees came to light

On two different occasions, it became known that Marco's Pizza had been putting the safety of minors at risk. The Charleston, South Carolina, locations were found guilty of letting minors perform a number of kitchen tasks that are prohibited or hazardous under federal law, as per the U.S. Department of Labor

The child labor violations didn't end there. The restaurants also employed a minor to deliver pizza and disobeyed the federal work hour standards by having them on shift past 7 p.m. and exceeding the maximum time permitted on a school day. For those violations, the chain had to pay a hefty amount of $101,027 as a penalty in 2021.

A year later, another location in Riverview, Florida, was fined close to $8,000 for similar violations (via U.S. Department of Labor). In this case, the child who was allowed to operate a power-driven bakery machine actually injured their hand. Hopefully, the chain learned its lesson that laws are in place for a reason.

They are encouraged to help the community

It only takes a bite to know that a good slice of pizza can lift your mood, but Marco's Pizza realized that a well-made pie could also raise community spirits. When the company hit a milestone of $1 billion in sales in July 2022, it decided to give itself a pat on the back by kickstarting a new organization. Marco's Pizza Foundation gives back to those who helped the chain reach its 10-digit figures (via Pizza Marketplace).

Any employee who wants to help out the community — be it by providing affordable school lunches, preventing hunger, or encouraging entrepreneurs — can seek resources from the foundation, as its mission highlights similar goals. Around the same time that the chain introduced the initiative, a Marco's Pizza store owner in Florida made the news for supporting first responders and helping out local hospitals by providing them with food during Hurricane Ian (via 19 News).

Digital advances mean less time taking orders on the phone

If you call Marco's Pizza to place an order, you will most likely chat with a bot. The chain invested millions of dollars to up its use of technology in early 2022. This means that when you call, a voice-to-text ordering system will send the order directly to the employees, which is their cue to start making the pizza. The tech intervention saves time for employees who could use the extra minutes to stretch dough and spread sauce — especially on busy nights (via QSR Magazine).

Marco's is also increasingly relying on technology to manage its inventory and schedule labor through a new proprietary tech platform that is 100% cloud-based. Over time, the same platform is expected to be implemented to allow customers to order through Siri, Google, and Alexa — or even more advanced, using social media (via Pizza Marketplace).

Dough prep takes much less time than before

Every morning, Marco's Pizza employees make the dough from scratch (via WJHL). This basic step means a lot to the chain. The dough and sauce were two components that founder Pasquale "Pat" Giammarco brought with him from Italy in 1978, according to the brand's website. To keep up with Pat's standards, the chains continue to use premium flour and maintain a "perfect water to air temperature ratio." You don't have to delve into the science behind it — just know that the process takes about seven to eight hours. 

When COVID-19 hit, the company racked its brains to come up with a process that wouldn't involve the staff spending a major part of the day readying the dough. It had to pivot to make up for a major labor crunch — after all, there were over 2,000 fewer employees in 2022 compared to 2019 (via Reuters). 

New dough-making machines were installed at Marco's locations. The appliances helped cut and roll the dough, saving up to six hours for the employees. While the company hopes to fill in its vacant positions soon, as co-CEO Toni Libardi told Reuters, the machines are one way of preparing for the worst-case scenario.

The work environment can sometimes be unsafe

Every job has its risks, even if it's one that allows you to be surrounded by the smell of pepperoni and cheese. In 2022 alone, at least two different Marco's Pizza locations were robbed — one in Douglas County, Georgia, (via Fox 5 Atlanta) and the other in Salem, North Carolina (via Fox 8). In both cases, an armed man entered the restaurant late at night, threatened employees with a gun, and demanded money. Once the staff handed it over, the robbers fled with the loot. Thankfully, no one was injured.

But in yet another case of robbery in Akron, Ohio, the employee — an 18-year-old pizza driver — wasn't that lucky. A group of armed men attacked him in front of a house where he was supposed to deliver the pizzas (via 19 News). They stole his phone and also attempted to steal his car. According to reports, the employee suffered minor bruises when he jumped on the hood of the vehicle to stop them.

They get pizzas at half the rate

A free pizza can do more than quell a craving — it can motivate people to work. A study by psychologist Dan Ariely showed that offering free pizza was more effective than giving free compliments or free money; it upped productivity by 6.7% compared to 6.6% and 4.9% respectively (via Bustle). There is a reason why Domino's tried to incite people to work for the company by offering a lucky applicant the chance to win free pizzas for a year (via Nintendo Life).

While employees at Marco's are not lucky enough to grab a pie from the oven for free whenever they get a craving, they don't have to pay full price. According to employee reviews on Glassdoor, a 50% discount is valid during a shift, and it drops to 25% outside of work hours (via Glassdoor). Still, to be able to order a classic crust pepperoni magnifico extra large for about the cost of a medium pie is not a bad deal.

One employee, however, said that the discount must be approved by the general manager or assistant general manager. If there's only a shift manager on location when staff members feel like a pie, they are out of luck.