How multi-unit entrepreneur brothers found the perfect fit with the rising Mexican food franchise
Growing up, P.J. and Ben Miller kept a close eye on their father, who owned and operated a Subway franchise. The Miller brothers would watch their father roll up his sleeves and do the necessary work — no matter how challenging it was — to ensure his business was a success. By the time the two were in high school they had started working for their father and would continue to work for another Subway franchise owner in college.
By then they had decided to follow in their father’s footsteps and became Subway franchise owners themselves, eventually owning nine of them. However, as time passed, the Miller brothers grew tired of not having their needs met: unreachable leadership, and a lack of support and diversity in their business. A cousin, who happened to be a Pancheros Mexican food franchise owner, introduced them to the concept and the rest is history, as the saying goes.
Pancheros Mexican food franchise has helped dozens of entrepreneurs thrive in business since our founding in 1992. Now, as Pancheros is expanding beyond our strong foothold in the Midwest, where our brand has a large, cult-like following, entrepreneurs are discovering that Pancheros is an easy business to scale in markets throughout the country.
How so? Pancheros is easy to scale because we’re entirely focused on simplicity. Our business model is designed to be labor efficient and cost-effective, and we provide our franchise owners with complete, hands-on training and support from a team of industry veterans — just a few of the many reasons why the Miller brothers signed on as franchise owners in 2016.
Here’s their story:
What were you doing before you became Pancheros franchise owners?
P.J. Miller: We were Subway franchisees. My brother, Ben, and I own nine Subway restaurants. We have a business partner of ours, who also is a cousin, and the three of us own two Pancheros franchises in Sioux Falls, Iowa. We opened our first location in September 2016 and opened our second in August 2017.
You’re both millennials. Not many of them own businesses, and it’s rare to come out of college and take a risk financially like this. Why did you do it?
P.J.: For us it was an easy decision because of our father and his Subway franchise. He got into it at the right time, and we saw the success he had. Additionally, we grew up in the business. We worked for him in high school and in college for a different Subway franchise owner. So it was a natural fit to take over the family business and expand on what he had worked so hard to build.
Why did you decide to invest in Pancheros?
P.J.: As Subway franchise owners, we ran into some bumps with the sales and unit growth. Subway was losing market share to fast-casual concepts, so we looked into a couple of them in an effort to diversify our business portfolio. We loved the concept of Pancheros, as well as the food and simplicity of the business model. We called one day and the territory was sold. A few years later they called us back and said it was available. We jumped at the opportunity and had our first store open within a year.
Ben: Going to school at the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa, I became a big fan of the food. The Sioux Falls market was something that attracted us to Pancheros because it’s a growing city. Additionally, our customers love it. This city is predominantly a Qdoba market, however we’re starting to see people switch over to Pancheros. One of the draws is our tortilla press. If I’m out on the town and Pancheros comes up, people talk about how they love our tortilla, the press and the show that goes on with the ordering process for a customer.
Do you feel supported by Pancheros corporate?
P.J.: Absolutely. Dealing with Subway, who is a bigger company, and Pancheros who is smaller — they both have their pros and cons. However, the support is definitely there with Pancheros. You get the answers you need from who you need to talk to in an efficient amount of time. Whereas, at Subway, that wasn’t always the case because of their size.
What qualities do you need to succeed as a Pancheros franchise owner?
P.J.: That’s a great question. I’d say you cannot be afraid to work. You have to get your hands dirty washing dishes or getting on the line. In my opinion, it’s a concept that needs to be babysat to ensure quality and service. So you have to have grit and be persistent.
Why is now a good time to invest in a Pancheros franchise?
Ben: The opportunities are endless. The markets are wide open and there are so many opportunities out there because there are only 71 restaurants. As for the quality of the product, there is nothing out there fresher or of higher quality compared to what we’re serving. There is no better time to get involved with a concept like Pancheros.