(Ambrosio’s note: With a comprehensive franchise plan, there’s no need for an investor to reinvent the wheel: That work has already been done. But new franchisees can still learn from others who have come before them.
With our Franchise Mentor series, we will introduce you to investors with diverse franchise portfolios as well as single-unit operators who share their personal stories about the keys to their success, what has worked for them, and even some things to avoid, as you contemplate becoming a franchise partner.
Today’s post is the second of two parts. To read Part 1, please click here.)
Jim Kolzow runs his Panchero’s Mexican Grill in a 2,800-square-foot space that formerly housed a Hollywood Video store and is somewhat large for a Panchero’s franchise. He has 16 employees, including two managers. He employs some part-time high school students, but most of his workers are full-time, working 40 hours a week. And while Kolzow is involved in the business every day, he gives credit to his general manager Pat Lyons for running the operation.
The store shares a shopping center with a few other restaurants and boutiques. And aside from hiring good people like Lyons, like most franchisees, he said finding the perfect location is key to success.
His location does not offer a major retailer as a neighbor, as the corporate office would have preferred, but it does have other compensating selling points that Kolzow knew about as a resident of the area. There are two high schools in close proximity, as well as a hospital, a sports training center for the Philadelphia Flyers and Philadelphia Soul, and, perhaps most importantly, one of the highest-grossing Rave cinemas in the country.
“Demographically, it is such a massive opportunity but it’s a new product so it took time to introduce it to people,” he said. “Site selection is probably the most important part of the process. Without the right location, you’re going to fail.”
Advice for Fellow Franchisees
When asked what other advice he had for investors who might be considering Panchero’s, he said “don’t try to reinvent the wheel.” He suggests following the corporate franchise plan, which is simple and provided to help the franchisee achieve success.
“It’s basically about following the corporate set of rules to the T,” he said. “Listen to what the corporate advice is.”
Local marketing is an area where a franchisee can implement his or her ideas and methods, he said. For example, once a week, his outlet holds a burrito night and invites local organizations such as school groups and non-profits to hold a fundraiser on the site. They in turn invite friends and family to the event and Kolzow donates 30 percent of his profits for the evening to the cause. The charities end up making four to five times what they might have made by simply asking for a donation from his store, he said. Plus, he gets to introduce his restaurant to a whole group of potentially new patrons.