Q: What is the biggest challenge you have met in your career?
My biggest challenge was when we opened our first Burrito Parrilla Mexicana
Restaurant. The business case made a lot of sense and I always assumed that if you had the right concept, executed well, and offered customers a great product, the business would perform well from the beginning.
I under estimated the challenges of developing a new brand. We executed well, our Restaurant looked great, employees were well paid and happy, and we provided great tasting fresh food, but our customers didn't know that.
The business started very slowly, and we lost approximately $200,000 the first two years in business. My business partners were discouraged and were very reluctant to continue injecting capital into the business. Fortunately, I was able to look at the business from a different point of view and I was encouraged, as long as, the sales trend continued to improve.
Our food was great, and our customers started to notice, and they kept coming back and bringing others with them. After the first couple of years, our sales started to improve significantly, and we came across another opportunity for a second restaurant. Despite the concerns with the first location, I was able to convince my partners to move forward with the second restaurant which started strong from the beginning. Now we have seven locations and two more opening soon. Q: How you would describe your company culture, and what are the superpowers of your team?
From the beginning of our business concept, it has been our mission to create an environment where our employees are treated with dignity and respect and earn good wages.
We encourage our employees to focus on providing great customer service and empower them to take risks and make decisions; such as, providing free desserts when appropriate, giving customers extra condiments, replacing their meal if they don't like it, or even giving full refunds if not satisfied. In addition, we made a commitment that if our business results allowed, we would implement a profit-sharing program with our key employees.
Currently, we are taking 10% of our profits on a quarterly basis and giving them to our key employees as bonuses. These actions have resulted in a healthy work environment for our employees and a significantly lower turnover rate then most restaurants. Most of our employees really care about our entire organization.