Twenty years ago, did you think you’d ever approach 1,000 locations? Was that idea even on your radar?
The principles are the same today for me as they were more than 20 years ago—be the best you can be and ask the same of your people. And when the fruits of that hard work pay off, do it again and again. A successful franchisor will tell you that they define success by year over year growth and sale of franchises. Franchisees need to look at the business the same way—how do you grow organically, and when you have maxed out your throughput, you must invest in more locations. Growth was harder to come by in the beginning, but as you continue to grow it becomes exponentially quicker. In the last three years we have had our best growth years yet, building over 200 new locations and remodeling over 100 in that time period. We have doubled in size just in the last five years! This overall growth mindset is what has led us to be the third largest franchisee in the country, and only the third franchisee to reach 1,000 locations.
What has been Sun Holdings’ strategy for growth? What would you credit as being the main reason the company has been able to scale to such a large unit count?
Sun is focused on an opportunistic growth strategy that is comprised of acquisition, as well as development and organic growth. Those three things mean grabbing stores that are available to me, building more stores, and increasing sales at the locations I do have. It’s about being a company that grows.
Not only have we grown to be the largest franchisee for multiple brands, but we have also won multiple development awards for building locations, which not a lot of franchisees can say, particularly in today’s market. Our goal is to grow in every direction and in any way we can.
These years of experience as a FZ have taught us many valuable lessons and have led us to becoming a franchisor for the first time with Taco Bueno, which allows us the opportunity to partner with other franchisees and help them grow. We are very excited about owning an entire brand for the first time, and it is our goal to continue to acquire others in the future. We plan to immediately invest in remodeling all of the older Taco Bueno locations to make them more modern and a place where consumers want to hang out. We have a prototype complete and will be releasing it to the public soon! We are also investing a significant amount of money in the food we serve so that we can go back to cooking the same high-quality, fresh Tex-Mex that we did when the brand first opened 52 years ago, and so that we can continue to be on the forefront of Tex-Mex innovation with exciting new products.