Veteran multi-unit owner opens up about life with the rising Mexican QSR franchise
When Dan Sacco made the decision to go into business for himself after 20 years working for a Pizza Hut franchise owner in Iowa, he wanted to go into business with a brand he believed in. Dan began researching franchise opportunities and determined Pancheros Mexican Grill franchise was a natural fit. Not only did he love the food, but he also loved the fact that Pancheros was a brand with a proven business model, and the company encouraged owners to become meaningful members of their communities.
For the past 14 years, Sacco and his business partner have owned and operated two Pancheros franchise restaurants in Davenport and Debuque, Iowa. Sacco credits being an active owner with a passion for his community, his employees and most importantly, the exceptional food, as the reasons behind the long-term success of his restaurants.
This is his story:
What did you do before becoming a Pancheros franchise owner?
Sacco: I spent 20 years as a district manager for a Pizza Hut franchise owners. I worked for two brothers out of Clinton, Iowa, and I really built a strong skill set in human resources, management training, and I learned every aspect of running a business.
What attracted you to the Pancheros franchise?
Sacco: I have a business partner, and we worked together for the Pizza Hut franchise owners. We started talking about going into something on our own, and we started exploring different franchise concepts. Being that Pancheros was out of Iowa City, Iowa, we were familiar with the brand, and we liked what they were doing. We loved the food. We were able to get the markets that we wanted in Dubuque and Davenport, and the rest is history!
Why do you think your restaurants have continued to grow after 14 years in business?
Sacco: The reason we’ve been successful for the last 14 years is because, as owners, we are actively involved. I spend my week in the stores, working with my managers and setting the expectations and goals for our business. We pay attention to the small details, which is hugely important. If you pay attention to the details and follow the Pancheros plan, you’re going to grow your business.
Another reason why we’re so successful is because we really focus on the food. Being that the food is so great, and so much better than our competitors, we do a lot of things to put food in new customers’ mouths. Even though we’ve been in business for 14 years, we don’t accept the fact that everyone has tried our food. We go out into the local community with samples, we visit businesses, and we’re always marketing on the ground.
If you focus on the food, provide great service in a clean environment, and actively market in your community, you can do incredibly well in this business.
Why is it important that you’re actively involved in your community?
Sacco: We’re very active in our community. We do a lot of community nights. We do a lot of Queso for a Cause nights, which support local charities. We get a lot of credit for that, because our community sees that we’re giving back. We don’t feel like a chain to our customers because they see that we’re committed to the community.
Being in the restaurants, people know that we’re the owners. They see us there consistently. Our customers know that their money is going back into the community. You get a lot of credit by being involved. Our customers know that we’re not absentee owners with 500 stores. Our customers can put a face to the business.
Why is Pancheros a good investment for business owners looking for an opportunity?
Sacco: Pancheros is a great investment. Everyone always wants to talk about the money, but no matter what franchise you choose, the dollar amount that you will spend on a new business is going to be very similar. But do other brands have the food that Pancheros has? Do other brands have the systems and processes in place that allow you to thrive as a franchise owner? Do other brands have a vision for the future? For me, as the owner of a Pancheros, it came down to food. If you’re going to invest in a food business, you have to love the food – and for me, Pancheros is the best.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs looking into the Pancheros Mexican Grill franchise opportunity?
Sacco: It’s not about how much money you can make. My partner and I have been successful because we’re not afraid to do the work. You get what you put in. Pancheros will teach you how to master the business model, but it’s up to you to drive the success of your restaurant. We’ve been open 14 years and we still have customers who come in who have never tried us. We’re always marketing, we’re always out there in the community, and we provide exceptional service.