Aside from product quality, Marco’s Pizza’s success in the marketplace has been driven by strong leadership and innovative operational and marketing strategies.

Marco's Pizza is on track to open 104 new locations in 2013. More than 1,500 new franchises have been signed, which means the company will quadruple its store count in the coming five to seven years.

This year, more than 30 percent of applications for new restaurants came from referrals from existing owners, who, after realizing the growth of their locations and seeing the continued growth of the company as a whole, sought to share the opportunity with entrepreneurs.

Additionally, 27 percent of new applications came from Marco's Pizza customers, reinforcing the single-most prominent reason for the company's growth: its food.

Having experienced a 37 percent revenue growth in 2012, Marco's Pizza remains one of the top franchise opportunities on the market in 2013. Company executives see substantial growth in the Southeast and Central regions of the country for franchise expansion this year, including Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas.

Marco's Pizza serves the expanding $40 billion U.S. pizza market that continues to grow at a rate of 1–2 percent per year.

"We've established ourselves as a leading franchise in the pizza business," says Jack Butorac, CEO of Marco's Pizza. "It has resulted in exponential growth for our brand at a time when many competitors have either struggled or failed."

Whether it's reducing shipping costs by changing pizza box designs, transitioning to online and mobile ordering, or investing in energy-saving devices, Marco's Pizza has found ways to combat rising costs in light of a slow-to-recover economy, while protecting its Italian food integrity.

Additionally, the company is staying on trend, recently announcing a new initiative with the people behind The New York Times' best-selling business book, "The Oz Principle," to create a program that will maintain its culture as it continues expanding across the U.S. The program will roll out nationally to Marco's Pizza's 7,900 employees in August and September of 2013.

"As we further our development efforts and open in new locations, we'll innovate and evolve through new partnerships, new products, and continued investments into the brand," Butorac says. "We are stoked that the growth in the pizza category further enhances the big growth prospects of Marco's Pizza in particular."

Because of the company's strong corporate backing, ability to take market share, Italian food standards, and its people, the Marco's Pizza franchise system took less than five years to more than double in size.

As a result, Marco's Pizza has received praise from Entrepreneur Magazine and, which ranked Marco's in the top 10 Allstar franchise systems.

Averaging one to two restaurant openings per week, the franchise is offering prospects opportunities to be a part of the company's nationwide growth.

Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, Growth, News, Operations, Pizza, Marco's Pizza