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Franchise Chatter Exclusive: Q&A with Mauricio Acevedo, CEO of BannaStrow’s (A Crepes and Coffee Franchise)

by Franchise Chatter on July 24, 2011

in Crepes Franchise, Executive Profile, Franchise Chatter Exclusive, Q & A Interview

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(Ambrosio’s note:  Crepes are very popular here in Vancouver, BC, and I’ve often wondered why this category has never really taken off south of the border.  It’s an ideal meal because it’s light yet satisfying, and the variety of fillings — both savory and sweet — means there’s always a new combination to try.  If introduced properly to the US consumer, I think this could be a mainstream food category in a few years.  With more and more people looking for healthier food options, I don’t see any reason why crepes can’t compete with sandwiches as an option for lunch, especially for people who want to cut back on carbs. 

BannaStrow’s is a quick-service crepe franchise that can be operated out of a kiosk, truck, or small storefront for an initial investment of $115,000 to $190,000, including the franchise fee.   Unlike most other quick-service restaurants, BannaStrow’s doesn’t need a kitchen or a back office.  The one-man shop serves a rotating selection of 50 different ingredients including meats like bacon, chicken, and steak; savory toppings like cheese and vegetables; and sweets like berries, melon, and chocolate spread. The franchisee, or an employee, makes each order on an open grill in front of the customer. Depending on the number of toppings, ticket prices generally range from $5.50 to $8.50.

After testing the business model with two company-owned stores and the subsequent addition of two highly successful franchises along the Florida Turnpike, BannaStrow’s is now ready to expand across the US.)

Mauricio Acevedo learned from a very young age to seek business opportunities rather than jobs. Due to that mindset and his strong desire to build a concept from the ground up,  Mauricio has always been an entrepreneur. Before joining the BannaStrow’s franchise system, Mauricio was involved in many ventures, including international business, agriculture, technology, and real estate. He obtained his MBA from the University of Miami.

Mauricio Acevedo, CEO of BannaStrow's

Mauricio Acevedo, CEO of BannaStrow's

1.  What made you decide to join BannaStrow’s as its CEO?

I joined BannaStrow’s primarily due to the untapped potential I saw in the franchise concept. It offered a product that could not only be eaten at any time of day, but was also very easy to operate and relatively inexpensive to maintain. Additionally, there was virtually no organized competition in the market, so I had to jump on the opportunity immediately.

2.  Why should someone interested in owning his or her own business consider a quick-service food franchise?

A quick-service food franchise should be considered by a potential business owner because it’s by far the most stable segment within the restaurant industry. In addition to providing many alternatives such as breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, quick-service food concepts allow consumers to visit on a daily basis. Unlike many high-end and upscale restaurants, consumers aren’t forced to visit only for special occasions. Therefore, a quick-service food franchise is much more secure from a business stand point.

3.  What sets BannaStrow’s apart from your competitors in the quick-service food industry?

Created from the “business side of the equation,” BannaStrow’s emerged from entrepreneurs with extensive restaurant experience and knowledge.  Instead of being created by someone who decided to franchise after cooking crepes, the concept was produced after long deliberation. By providing a product that can be eaten daily, and appeals to all nationalities and ages, the concept has the credentials to succeed. Additionally, the brand’s affordability, easy operation, flexibility, and low waste make it a concept like no other in the area.

Moreover, the BannaStrow’s brand sets itself apart from other quick-service food competitors by not only introducing a foreign concept to the US, but also by providing a visual and fresh demonstration for consumers. Unlike competitors, all of BannaStrow’s operations happen right in front of the consumer, alleviating the need for a back kitchen. Therefore, customers are able to witness the freshness and quality of their meal.

4.  What qualities are you looking for in a prospective franchisee?BannaStrow's Product Photo

First and foremost, I’m looking for passion in a franchisee — passion for service, passion for people, and passion for work. Our operation is very easy to manage and flexible, so we’re looking for individuals who recognize BannaStrow’s tremendous potential.

5.  Can you describe the ideal territory and neighborhood for a BannaStrow’s franchise?

With location flexibility, BannaStrow’s is an ideal concept for any territory or neighborhood that generates high foot traffic. By operating out of kiosks, in-line settings, stand alone stores, catering carts, and food trucks, we can position the brand in malls, universities, airports, and even hospitals.

6.  Based on your observations, what concrete steps do your most successful franchisees take in order to build and grow their businesses?

BannaStrow’s most successful franchisees grow their business by maintaining open communication with the brand’s franchisors and consumers. By actively seeking open communication with the entire company, our franchisees are able to efficiently expand their business through tactical strategy and implementation. In fact, the more we talk to each other, the more we can help each other out.

Our most successful franchises also exemplify a strong passion for what they do. Without a love for the concept they offer, it would be more difficult to succeed as a brand.

Last but certainly not least, our most successful franchisees also research their desired locations before opening a store.

7.  What kind of ongoing support do you extend to your franchisees to help them become more successful?

In order to provide the most beneficial and efficient support to our franchisees, we first introduce them to the brand during a two-week training program held in Miami. Once training is complete, we make sure to visit each site periodically. By doing so, we’re able to spend time with each franchisee, address situations and solve them in a timely manner, and seek avenues for improvement.

Additionally, we strive to maintain open two-way communication with all franchisees in order to provide an enriching and prosperous company atmosphere. In fact, the BannaStrow’s smoothie line concept was conceived after maintaining two-way communication with a franchisee.

Banna Strow's Crepes and Coffee Franchise Logo8.  What would you tell a prospective franchisee who wants to know about the profit potential of a BannaStrow’s franchise?

When discussing profit potential with a prospective franchisee, I would first discuss two things:  food costs and labor costs. Unlike many franchisors, we disclose the brand’s food and labor costs in Item 19 on our FDD. Additionally, I would also discuss rent, along with the pros and cons of paying higher rent for a better location.

9.  Can you describe your typical day as CEO of BannaStrow’s?  What do you enjoy most about your job?

As CEO of BannaStrow’s, I spend most of my time speaking to potential franchisees and researching innovative ways to grow the brand. We’re still an emerging brand, so I also spend a portion of my day doing things that most CEOs of larger corporations might not do. However, my favorite role as CEO is speaking to prospective franchisees from all over the world, including Colombia, Europe, India, and Russia. My day is full of fun!

10.  Is there anything else that you’d like to share with us about BannaStrow’s?

BannaStrow’s is a concept that many people don’t know about, but should. With an inexpensive investment level and unique product, the BannaStrow’s brand is the perfect fit for a potential business owner in search of a fun and fresh business model.

I feel what the people who were pushing sushi 20 years ago must have felt. I can just imagine the struggle they went through to position raw fish! Despite their struggle, however, consumers can now find a sushi place on just about every corner!

Similar to sushi, crepes will also become a dinner staple among the Americans.   BannaStrow’s may not be well known as an alternative to a sandwich or burger yet, but we’ll get there one day. When that day comes, BannaStrow’s will lead the way!

To learn more about BannaStrow’s, check out their website, Facebook page, and Twitter account.

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