No Plan B, the franchisee from Togo expands in California | Franchise News

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“To be a multi-unit operator, believe the people. Hire good people and have a good process and it will all fall into place. “

– Letha Tran, franchisee from Togo


Restaurant editor Nicholas Upton asks what motivates multi-unit operators and features their edited responses in his Multi-Unit Mindset column in each issue. To suggest a topic, send an email to [email protected]

When did you first think about owning a Togo?

While I was in college, I saw a place and asked my mom to buy it for me, but she said I had to go to college. I was in front of their stores counting their customers and thinking, I bet they each spend around $ 10.

How did you finally get into the brand?

I’ve always had a small business mentality from my mom. I grew up working in his convenience store. When I entered the life of the company, you were conscripted to these deadlines, come in at a certain time and leave at a certain time. I remember my first job, I said to my mom, “They keep telling me what to do. I just couldn’t see the rest of my life doing this and I knew I had to do something else. I cashed in pretty much everything I owned to open my first Togo and never looked back.

How did you go at five locations?

I had the opportunity to open my second in Morgan Hill, CA, probably at an hour and a half. So this was my second location; it was a little scary. Then a year later, I realize that I’m pretty good at it and love it. I ended up buying my third property in Redwood City, California. A few years later the companies sold their stores and I got a few more.

During the pandemic, we saw good opportunities where other restaurants were closing and we saw potential given our take-out model. I’m planning number 6 now and hope we open this summer.

How has growth changed your goals?

My dream was to always have a store and run my own business. I never expected to be a multi-unit franchisee, but I went to this franchise meeting and everyone had 100 or 50 franchises. I thought, “Maybe it’s possible I have two.” So I learned to take advantage of the money and to get loans. I had no experience where people would lend me good rates. I remember trying to apply for a loan and the interest rates were crazy, they wanted 12 or 14 percent. The more I am in the business, the more I get much better rates.

It also changes the work-life balance. What did you see?

My life is now so much more flexible. When I was running a store I would sometimes work 14 hour shifts to make sure I was hitting my numbers. I didn’t have a plan B. It was just plan A and I was working the buttocks. Now that I have a network of good managers and good people working for me, I am a little more free. Rather, I am there as a mentor, I look at the numbers, I am an auditor and I make sure that everything is going well.

Building this team is not easy. Any advice how to do?

Basically, I try to hire people who share my philosophy, like the customer comes first no matter what. Then I try to take care of my employees and have growth opportunities for them. My manager, Reuben, who has been with me for five years now, with the sixth store, he will try to manage more than two stores. He is very excited about this opportunity. It’s little things like that. He wants to take on more roles and move forward in his career, everyone does.

With the Sixth Store, how do you streamline your entry into a second-gen place where someone else failed?

I’m not looking, but when I see an opportunity and recognize it, I can’t pass it up. Even friends and family were like, are you sure you want to open up during COVID? They said it was a little crazy, but things would get back to normal.

I have a better deal, it’s already built. It’s more of a remodel than a full-fledged construction. For example, to do a complete construction, it could be $ 400,000 to $ 600,000; it was $ 200,000, that’s a big saving. Businesses also have their own real estate department, so if they see a site that won’t be successful, they don’t want to be in a failing restaurant either.

What’s your best piece of advice for franchisees looking to grow or those considering exiting the corporate world?

All that is worth anything is hard work. People see me and think it’s easy – it’s not easy. It took a lot of work, but it’s getting easier. I get a lot of people saying, I have the money, where do I put it. And I say no, this is not a company that you invest in, I don’t think so. I need to be in the stores, I need to be in the stores everyday.

Restaurant editor Nicholas Upton asks what motivates multi-unit operators and features their edited responses in his Multi-Unit Mindset column in each issue. To suggest a topic, send an email to [email protected]

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