BURGLARS TO BURGERS (AND BURRITOS)
x-cop’s attention to detail helps Burger Wisconsin and Mexicali Fresh franchisees to boost the bottom line
Andre Chappell, Burger Wisconsin & Mexicali Fresh "We believe in happy franchisees making good money"
In the fast-changing and highly-competitive world of quick service restaurants, ‘Details matter,’ says Andre Chappell. ‘A customer may not notice a clean store, but they will certainly notice a dirty one. Equally, portion control is a massive issue: if a store serves just five grams over normal on any item that can add up to ten percent over the year – a big loss. Small things like that can make a major difference to the bottom line, but if you are too busy trying to fill too many roles in your business, they are easy to overlook.’
Andre should know. After 21 years in the police force, he bought his own Burger Wisconsin store before joining the franchisor, Mariposa Restaurant Holdings (MRH) which owns both Burger Wisconsin and Mexicali Fresh. Today, his role is simple: ‘Help store owners improve their profitability. That’s something MRH has always done so well – looked to the profitability and potential improvements of all their franchisees, rather than just opening new stores willy-nilly. We believe in happy franchisees making good money – that way, we all win.’
Andre is a long-time fan of Burger Wisconsin, taking a share in his Papanui franchise before he even retired from the police. ‘I’d always admired the brand and ate there regularly,’ he says. ‘I spent 14 years there and enjoyed building an excellent business within a first-class brand. I was ready for a new challenge so when I was asked to become National Franchise Manager for both the brands, I leapt at it.
‘I love this role – I still own my Papanui store so it gives me a completely different perspective. Things are not always black and white and having the operational background I can quickly see when adjustments are needed. I work for both the franchise and the franchisees; my job is to do the best for both parties and solve the problems along the way. As an ex-cop, I hope I’m firm but fair, and to be honest there’s been very little need to be an ‘enforcer’ as the strength of the systems is self-explanatory.’
riding the wave
With its quick service, fresh flavours and drive towards organic and free-range ingredients, Mexicali Fresh has been at the forefront of the rise of Mexican food in New Zealand. Now with 18 stores around the country and more being added all the time, it was joined in 2015 by Burger Wisconsin. ‘MRH recognised it as a very good solid brand, which had a loyal fan base but needed re-energising,’ says Andre. ‘With their long experience they investigated thoroughly, identified the underperforming bits and, as a result improved and expanded the brand to increase profitability for the franchisees and stay ahead of the trends.’ Today, the two brands number nearly 40 stores with growing demand for more nationwide.
‘The key to the success of both brands has been selecting great franchisees who share our vision and supporting them throughout their journey,’ says Andre. ‘Some of our franchisees are now expanding by taking on additional stores, which is a vindication of the quality of the systems. It’s a two-way thing, though – all our franchisees care really deeply about what they do and serve, and they know we listen to their experiences and suggestions for improvements.’
Over the years Andre has continually turned to The E-Myth by Michael Gerber as a reference for business improvement. ‘A new franchisee has to be three people – a manager, a technician and an entrepreneur. But you can’t go on being all three for more than a year; you need systems in place, and people you can trust to run them properly whether you’re there or not. The strength of Mexicali Fresh and Burger Wisconsin is that there are solid, dependable, workable systems in place for you, and them, to follow. I know – I’ve done it and I’m doing it still,’ he laughs.
for a new generation
Burger Wisconsin and Mexicali Fresh are keen to attract a new young generation of franchisees passionate about food. ‘We don’t necessarily want chefs, or people with experience; we are looking for entrepreneurs who can see the potential in two great systems and are prepared to work hard,’ says Andre. The investment required is between $300,000 and $400,000 +gst, which includes full training, a brand new on-point fit-out and the opportunity to thrive in a popular and profitable franchise.
‘Of course, expansion is desirable for everyone – the more stores we have, the greater the buying power and leverage we have over suppliers,’ Andre explains. ‘Getting costs down benefits all our franchisees and even a one percent saving on any ingredient adds up greatly over the year. But it’s an imperative for us that every new store is sustainable. We are very defensive of Burger Wisconsin and Mexicali Fresh so we want the right owners in the right locations, not just extra outlets.
‘Quality over quantity is our byword. Find out more about the opportunities with two great New Zealand brands by giving us a call and see where you might fit in.’