If you’re looking to get into the Mexican restaurant business, then Chipotle seems like an obvious brand to join. Since its establishment in the 1990s, it has become one of the biggest Mexican chains in North America. But if you’re an entrepreneur eying up your own restaurant then you’re going to be disappointed, as Chipotle doesn’t do franchising.
How much is a Chipotle franchise?
You can’t put a price on a Chipotle franchise, because the company’s owners refuse to. Ever since its founding, the leadership of the company has retained tight control, with all the stores being company-owned.
This control extends beyond avoiding franchises and into the company’s relationship with shareholders. Even when McDonald’s was Chipotle’s biggest investor in the 2000s, Chipotle’s leadership resisted pressure from McDonald’s to add drive-thru windows and a breakfast menu.
The founder of the company, Steve Ells, stepped down as chairman in 2020, which may mean some changes at the company over the next few years. For now though, there are no signs of franchising.
Can you franchise a Chipotle?
There are no franchises for Chipotle restaurants. If you want to manage a Chipotle, then you will need to apply to work for the company. Over 80% of its leaders start out in lower positions in the company, so the best path to managing a Chipotle may be to get working in one of its restaurants.
How much does a Chipotle franchise owner make?
While you can’t franchise a Chipotle, you can make good money managing one. A Chipotle general manager makes an average of $56,953 per year, and the company has recently announced that the highest levels of general managers will receive salaries as high as $100,000.
The increased salary for high-level managers comes amid a general increase in pay for Chipotle’s staff. Like many other restaurant chains, the company is struggling to meet its staffing needs, and so is increasing pay across the board to attract the talent needed to keep its stores open. It has even increased the prices of items on its menu as a direct measure to ensure that staff earn a living wage.
What are some Mexican restaurant franchise alternatives to Chipotle?
If you were hoping to run a Chipotle franchise and are now looking for other options, there are plenty to choose from.
The undisputed chief of Mexican franchises, Taco Bell has over 7,000 restaurants, 93% of them franchised or licensed. Its high profile and enduring popularity mean that you’re likely to see a lot of business, and a lot of centrally sourced marketing to back you up.
Like Chipotle, Qdoba Mexican Eats has been running since the 1990s. It has over 700 stores, though the number has declined slightly since a consortium bought the franchise off Jack in the Box in 2018. Around half of its stores are franchised. It’s a popular option for fast-casual eating.
A slightly hipper option, Moe’s Southwest Grill had nearly as many outlets as Qdoba. It serves a similar menu to the other Mexican restaurants, with customers able to personalize dishes to suit their tastes. There’s an emphasis on music and entertainment in its restaurants.
For more options, check out our list of the best Mexican restaurant franchises currently available.
What are the pros and cons of a Mexican restaurant franchise?
People love Mexican food. It’s the second most popular menu type in the US, with a market worth $65 billion in 2019. There’s good money to be made from these restaurants, especially in the fast-casual style, and franchises dominated among the big brands.
Franchising brings several benefits over running an independent Mexican restaurant. There’s training and support from the franchisor; guidance from fellow franchisees; a tested business model; and a business that’s easier to sell when you want to retire. Branded chain outlets have an easier time getting established, thanks to their combined marketing and strong brand recognition.
On the down side, franchise fees can make a chain restaurant more expensive to start and add to ongoing costs. There’s not much room for creativity in how you present your store or flexibility to how you run the business. And if the chain over-expands, then your customers could be cannibalized by a new branch of the same franchise.
In short, there are huge financial benefits available, but at a cost.
Is a Mexican restaurant franchise for you?
While you can’t get a Chipotle franchise, similar franchises are available. Joining one lets you get the satisfaction of running a restaurant, and if you’re a fan of Mexican food it will mean that you’re surrounded by something you’ll love. These are restaurants that encourage a relaxed, friendly atmosphere, though it takes hard work behind the scenes to create that casual vibe.
Before deciding whether a Mexican franchise is for you, you should consider your options, to make sure you make the right choice. That might be managing a store, like you can do for Chipotle, running your own franchise, or instead heading down a different path. By using Franchise Chatter’s resources on different brands and industries, as well as our guidance on picking the right franchise, you can set yourself on the path to success.