How an entrepreneur went from independent business owner to multi-unit operator of a thriving burrito franchise
Nearly five years ago, successful entrepreneur Bob Thompson and Operations Director Craig Noah made a bold decision to invest in a new restaurant brand the Minneapolis area. Their first location was in Bloomington, Minneapolis for Pancheros Mexican Grill franchise, a strong Midwest brand at the time. Since then, Thompson and Noah have opened three new restaurants and taken over another, building the brand in Minneapolis, while Pancheros has expanded to 13 states and more than 25 markets across the country.
Pancheros has helped dozens of entrepreneurs thrive in business since our founding in 1992. Now, as we are expanding beyond our strong foothold in the Midwest, where our brand has millions of loyal followers, entrepreneurs are discovering that our thriving burrito franchise is an easy business to scale in markets throughout the country.
In this interview, Noah shares how the rising burrito franchise’s simple business model allowed him to scale up to multi-unit ownership quickly and effectively.
How has your Pancheros franchise grown?
Noah: About five years ago, Bob Thompson and I purchased an existing restaurant to tap into the great opportunity that Pancheros provides. Since then we’ve opened three more locations and recently purchased another existing restaurant to convert into a Pancheros franchise. We’ve seen significant sales growth, some even in the double digits, in all of our stores.
It’s been a great opportunity for us as franchisees. The name recognition for Pancheros in Minnesota is definitely aided by the fact that it has a strong midwestern tie, especially in Iowa.
Over the past decade there’s been a lot of opportunity for Pancheros to get its name out into the community, which relies on that great reputation.
What makes the Pancheros business model so efficient?
Noah: The tools that Pancheros provides its franchise owners have been proven over nearly three decades. Both food and labor costs are easily trackable and cost efficient. As an operator of five stores, I can see in real-time what’s happening in each one as far as sales, customer counts and labor. So with the proper oversight, these stores are able to do exactly what you would expect a profitable and well-run operation to do.
How does Pancheros support you in your business?
Noah: Pancheros is quick to respond. They’re available nearly 24/7. Corporate is great at problem solving because they’ve seen everything in the nearly three decades of their existence. Everything from technical support to software to marketing. Pancheros is very timely in ensuring that everything is running efficient and as it should.
Customers value fresh ingredients and expect it from QSRs. How does Pancheros’s food meet this need?
Noah: Pancheros has created a simple business model that allows customers to come in and have great food. Our tortilla is made to order for each customer. It’s really an experience for them because they hear this fresh press sound and then have a golden tortilla they get to make their burrito with. As they go down the line they choose high-quality ingredients with vibrant colors to fill their burrito. At the end of the process we use Bob the Tool to mix the ingredients so that every bite the customer takes is the same.
Do you have any plans to open more locations?
Noah: We are planning on opening a new store in Apple Valley next year. We think it’s going to be a great store because the demographics and the traffic count is the best we have seen in the Twin Cities at this time. When we targeted four years ago which parts of the city we wanted to operate in, this was our number one goal. This is going to be a great opportunity for us to meet a lot of people and sell a lot of burritos. Additionally, we plan on opening another seven or eight restaurants over the next four years.
Why is now a good time to invest in Pancheros as a business opportunity?
Noah: The business model Panccheros has created is very straightforward. When you are able to talk things over with your restaurant consultant things always make sense and they’re based on reason. We’re not creating the wheel, but rather utilizing a proven system. If franchise owners stick to the operational standards Pancheros provides, they will see positive results.