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Joanna Gossett Joanna Gossett is a serial entrepreneur who, along with her husband, owns and operates an executive recruiting practice, manages real estate, and handles administration for their fitness clubs, pizza shops, and cell phone stores. She also serves as Area Representative for Romeo’s Pizza, a franchise poised to expand across the US. As Founder of Elite Hire Consulting, Joanna has placed over 100 mid-, senior-, and executive-level professionals within the real estate industry.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • Joanna Gossett explains what attracted her to invest in a Romeo’s Pizza franchise
  • What is it about Romeo’s Pizza’s sauce that makes it the secret to the concept’s success?
  • Why Joanna and her husband are franchisees with AT&T and Anytime Fitness 
  • The reasons Romeo’s Pizza thrived during the pandemic
  • Joanna describes what goes into being a franchisee with Romeo’s Pizza
  • What are the biggest differences in operating fitness clubs, cell phone stores, and pizza restaurants?
  • The key to writing a memorable resumé  
  • Why Joanna is thrilled to have invested in real estate

In this episode…

Have you ever considered becoming a franchisee in a national chain? How will you decide on an industry? Will it be a restaurant, retail outlet, or something else? 

Joanna Gossett and her husband are franchisees for brands in three different industries: Romeo’s Pizza, AT&T, and Anytime Fitness. According to Joanna, each requires different levels of investment from the franchisee. She says their fitness club members have key fobs and can come and go as they please, allowing the owners to focus on other things. For the pizza restaurant, Joanna has recruited and hired an experienced general manager to attract and keep quality employees in an industry notorious for high turnover. The AT&T store is very different, with all team members being experienced, career-oriented professionals. 

On this episode of the Top Business Leaders Show, Rise25’s Chad Franzen chats with Joanna Gossett, a franchisee with AT&T, Romeo’s Pizza, and Anytime Fitness, Founder of Elite Recruiting, and Partner and Property Manager at Gossett Homes. Joanna shares how she became an owner of businesses in five different industries and the different approaches to operating each of them. She also offers tips to job seekers looking to present a memorable resumé to potential employers.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode


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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:04

Welcome to the Top Business Leaders Show. Powered by Rise25 media. We featured top founders, executives and business leaders from all over the world

Chad Franzen 0:20

Chad Franzen here co host for the show where we feature top restaurant tours, investors and business leaders. This is part of our spot on series. Spot On has the best in class payment platform for retail and they have a flagship solution called Spot On Restaurant, where they combine marketing software and payments all in one. They’ve served everyone from larger chains like Dairy Queen and Subway to small mom and pop restaurants. To learn more, go to spot This episode is brought to you by Rise25. We help b2b businesses to get ROI clients referrals and strategic partnerships through done for you podcast. If you have a b2b business and want to build great relationships with clients, referral partners and thought leaders in your space. There’s no better way to do it than through podcasts and content marketing. To learn more, go to or email us at Joanna Gossett and her husband are serial entrepreneurs. She owns and operates an executive recruiting practice managers real estate handles administration for their fitness clubs, pizza, pizza shops and cell phone stores and serves as area representative for Romeo’s pizza franchise that’s rapidly growing across the US. Joanna, welcome to the show.

Joanna Gossett 1:27

Thank you. Thanks so much for having me, Chad. Excited to be here.

Chad Franzen 1:30

Yeah, great to have you. Hey, as far as I can tell, you are currently involved with five different entrepreneurial and professional endeavors all at the same time. Let’s kind of go through them all one by one and talk about kind of how you got started and everything like that. Let’s start with the most recent last year, I was kind of looking at your LinkedIn page, you became a retail partner for AT&T with stores in South Carolina. How did you come about that? And what goes into that for you?

Joanna Gossett 1:57

Yeah, absolutely. No, great question. So my husband, he’s definitely the the driver of all of our entrepreneurial endeavors. And I’m been along for the ride and pulled in, shut off. So he his background is in wireless sales for 15 plus years at the regional VP level. And below that, I mean, he worked his way up from a sales rep position. And he’s worked for all the major carriers and was approached by AT&T a number of years ago now about becoming an agent partner with them. And it all kind of came to fruition in the last year or so. And now he we opened our first store integrity stores is the name of our company for AT&T stores. And we opened our first location in Anderson, South Carolina in December of 2022. And he is in the works for a number of other locations that we’re going to be opening in this year. And in the future.

Chad Franzen 2:59

Okay, so you had been a franchisee for other things and opened other businesses but this is the first cellphone store. How’s that going? So far?

Joanna Gossett 3:07

You got it. Yeah, great. We’re off to a great start. It’s an awesome location. It’s a beautiful building brand new construction ground up. So that came with challenges, of course, but we’re kind of used to that process now with these other franchises that we’ve built out to

Chad Franzen 3:22

how much work as a franchisee does he have to put in, like, in that store directly?

Joanna Gossett 3:30

In the store currently. So I mean, he we have a great team. You know, he has a director that worked for him in a previous wireless with previous wireless company that actually moved up here from Florida to help run the operations for him. He’s kind of the boots on the ground and my husband’s you know, I mean, he’s, he’s somewhere every day doing things putting out fires, I mean, he’s busy.

Chad Franzen 3:57

Sure. So in 2021, you started as an area representative and franchise owner for Romeo’s Pizza. Just just kind of told me you know, for those of us who haven’t been a customer of Romeo’s. What’s the customer experience like there at Romeo’s?

Joanna Gossett 4:13

So yes, so Romeo’s Pizza is very unique. We were customers way before we ever even thought about becoming a franchisee with them. My husband and I have zero restaurant experience while he was a busboy in high school but beyond that zero restaurant experience before we chose to franchise with them, but the product is really want to sold us on Romeo’s it became our like pizza spot because it has a very unique sauce. We have vine ripe tomatoes that are bottled or from vine to cans in less than 24 hours straight from California. The product is just so delicious and the sweet sauce. There is none other like Romeo’s sauce. I crave pizza a lot. But if I’m craving Romeo’s there’s no other pizza that can satisfy that craving it has to be Romeo’s.

Chad Franzen 5:02

So yeah. On the website it says the secret is in the sauce. Can you describe what the sauce tastes like?

Joanna Gossett 5:08

Yeah, so it’s, I mean, it’s sweet like you You can taste the sweetness, but it’s also savory at the same time. Um, but it’s it’s it’s tomato heavy for sure. And I’m not a tomato sauce lover like pasta spaghetti. I’m not a I’m not a real marinara girl. So it’s not like that. I mean, it’s very, it’s just very unique. And like, you just have to try it. I mean, it’s hard to describe.

Chad Franzen 5:34

So last year, I’m sorry, 2022. You got involved with AT&T now in 2021? It’s Romeo’s you had been a franchisee owning fitness clubs. What made Romeo’s an attractive franchise opportunity for you?

Joanna Gossett 5:51

Yeah, great question. So my husband and I, we both worked for other people. And I guess still in 2020, early 2020, prior to pandemic, I am a career executive recruiter have spent, you know, the last 10 years of my life doing executive recruiting within property management and real estate. And we my husband’s always had this entrepreneurial itch. And we have a passion for helping other people. And he’s, he’s a division, he was a division two athlete in college. So he’s always had kind of a an itch to be involved with fitness. And it’s been a big part of his life. And rewind a little bit more to he actually tore his Achilles tendon in 2016. I mean, and that was just it was he was at a charity basketball tournament playing 60 pounds overweight, you know, for his build, and tore his Achilles. And it really humbled him and both of us really, because we just realized, like, you took for granted walking, right? And so that really prompted him to like, want to be involved in the fitness industry in some way. So then he started investigating just researching different franchise options. And Anytime Fitness is who we decided to franchise with, and we opened our first club and 2018. And it I mean, it was going really good. I mean, we were still a new club, right? When the pandemic hit. We were still kind of in those early stages still growing. And obviously, that just crushed us. You know, we had to close down completely. Nobody, everybody was afraid to gyms. So at that point when we’re working for other people, so at least we had steady paychecks coming in, that helped with making payroll, you know, we didn’t lay off anybody during the pandemic, which, you know, we felt really good about because these is their livelihoods, you know, and anyway, we decided we need to diversify. And that was the biggest reason why we said, Okay, we can’t put all our eggs in this basket, we need to look at companies that have thrived through this, and are continuing to make money and survive and even growing, and pizza was one place where that that was the case.

Chad Franzen 8:09

So that’s interesting. A lot of people thought during the pandemic, that restaurants were like, the hardest hit, but in this case, Romeo’s was an attractive option. Was it because of the delivery model? 

Joanna Gossett 8:21

Yeah, so it’s a delivery and carry out only. So I mean, their numbers just continued to skyrocket during during the pandemic, and after. And so one one was the product two was that it is delivering carry out three, the franchise is it’s been around since 2001. Started in Medina, Ohio. So it’s been around a long time. But they’ve been just really in Ohio, they had about 50 locations. And have just started in the last couple of years growing outside of the area. And that was super attractive for us as well. My husband was actually ready to sign a franchise agreement with another, like top five pizza chain. When Romeos actually reached out to him, and the timing was just perfect. And it was a no brainer, once we just looked at everything. And one of those biggest reasons was the geography that was available within Romeo’s, you know, he was he was going to have to manage these other pizza restaurants if he had signed that franchise agreement in like, very specific remote locations. And now we have the joy of being able to bring this amazing pizza to an area where it’s never really been before. We only have three locations in the state right now. So that’s exciting. And that was like, a big selling point for us too, and that we’d be able to pick, pick our,

Chad Franzen 9:43

our areas, and you guys are in South Carolina.

Joanna Gossett 9:46

Yeah, we’re in South Carolina.

Chad Franzen 9:48

Do you own all three of those locations?

Joanna Gossett 9:51

So no, so there’s another franchisee that owns there’s a location they’re all in the upstate of South Carolina right now. But we’re in talks with some franchisees that are getting close to making decisions on areas in the central part of the state and the coastal areas, what they call the coastal regions and the Midlands. But yeah, so we have, we own a location in Easley, South Carolina, which is about 45 minutes from Greenville, if you know anything about about South Carolina or the Upstate, and then we have another location that we will be opening next month in Clemson, South Carolina. And then another one in the works, but we don’t have an ally signed yet.

Chad Franzen 10:34

So what goes into being a franchisee with Romeo’s?

Joanna Gossett 10:39

So they have a really great business model. They have a pretty in depth online platform to for all employee training. I mean, I knew nothing about cutting a pizza, making dough, dough temperature, I mean, all these things, all the recipes, everything’s already laid out for you. So that was another thing that’s attractive about franchising, especially someone with no pizza experience. So I mean, you got to select your restaurant and your real estate and the Romeo’s corporate team helps with all of that. I mean, they told us what we needed to order you like from how many baking pans you need, the whole thing they’ve figured it out for you and they really can give you as much support as you need or as little as you need if you have a lot of experience.

Chad Franzen 11:28

So you you had been as you as you mentioned, for your reason for joining Romeo’s was you had been a franchisee with with Anytime Fitness and now Romeo’s and also AT&T, what’s the biggest difference among the three in terms of operating, you know, one to the other.

Joanna Gossett 11:46

So, the fitness clubs is a lot less staffing, it’s a very lean model, because it’s a 24 hour fitness club. Our members have key fobs, and they can come and go as they please. And we’re staffed during certain hours of the day, we’re not staff that whole 24 hours. So we’ve had really some long tenured, great people that have helped us in that business. And that and that run our day to day, which allows myself and my husband to do other things and continue to grow. So I would say staffing, you know, obviously in pizza and the restaurant world, we are in a tough time period right now. I mean, it’s always tough in the restaurant industry to keep people attract good people, especially in your sort of infancy stages. But my recruiting background has come in handy. Our well I recruited our general manager that runs our easily location, she is great. She has a ton of pizza experience, she teaches us stuff every day. So we’ve been fortunate with some of that, and she’s brought people with her to sew. But staffing, there’s definitely more turnover with the with the pizza restaurant. And then the the employees for and AT&T has been an outstanding partner to partner with, they’ve provided a ton of support for us as a partner with them throughout the process too. And, but but our staffing there, it’s just a little different. We’re just talking about a little bit of different types of people, you know, more of a professional in that in the 18 T atmosphere. And a little bit more of your rough around the edges, people sometimes in the pizza world, and it’s just awesome to be able to interact with so many different types of people and help them and like help them achieve their dreams.

Chad Franzen 13:30

So not only are you a franchise owner with Romeo’s you’re an area representative. Is that mean you’re looking for other franchisees?

Joanna Gossett 13:38

Yeah, absolutely, exactly. So my husband and I purchased the rights to the South Carolina territory. So we are actively searching for new franchisees and put them through our screening screening process, you know, to potentially open their own restaurants for the franchise, and then we support them along the way as well.

Chad Franzen 13:57

What do you look for in a franchisee? And what’s kind of your, your pitch?

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