In this exclusive Q&A, we get to learn more about Chronic Tacos from its CEO, Michael Mohammed.
Franchise Chatter (FC): Tell us about your professional background? What led you to the franchise industry?
Michael Mohammed (MM): I studied business in college – I went to St. Martin’s University in Washington and majored in Business and then decided to stay at St. Martin’s to get my MBA. After I graduated, I worked as a financial analyst at Boeing for a bit and then worked with my family in the forest industry. My brother Dan and I developed an industrial park and worked on that for a few years before wanting a new investment project.
I’m Canadian, so when Chronic Tacos was looking to expand into Canada in 2010, my three brothers and I helped finance the Vancouver location. After learning more about Chronic, we wanted to become a bigger part of the brand and decided that this investment opportunity was the best for us and decided to roll with it.
FC: What are some challenges/opportunities the brand has faced in the franchising sphere?
MM: Right out of the gate, our biggest issue was the lack of management and direction the franchisees were previously given, which was an issue that we didn’t exactly plan for. There were no clear systems that were previously enforced. Because of that, the branding was all over the place and you literally could go from one location to another and feel like you were in a totally different restaurant – which as a franchise, was a HUGE issue. They were all being run like mom-and-pop shops versus franchises.
We knew that this was a challenge that needed to be addressed immediately. So, we decided to stop franchising until we had a foundation and restaurant model that all four of us were satisfied with. That’s when we started exiting all the franchises that we didn’t think were going to be able to fit our model – which is never easy.
But because we took so much time to lay the groundwork and build the foundation, in 2015 when we started franchising again, we grew immensely. We started at 26 and now we’re at 63 locations. I think because we took time to peel away at the facade, we set ourselves up for an abundance of opportunities in the future.
FC: What makes Chronic Tacos an attractive franchise opportunity to invest in?
MM: We believe that our franchise partners are the single most valuable asset to the Chronic Tacos organization. We think that giving our franchisees outstanding support is a pillar of the Chronic Tacos culture, and it’s also a commitment that we feel should never be compromised.
When franchisees join the Chronic franchise system, they are joining a system that we, as the leaders of the business, are constantly working to refine and improve. Franchisees are attracted to Chronic because when you join our family, you’re becoming a part of a growing brand that provides an amazing business venture. We offer the rare combination of true brand differentiation within a mainstream space.
FC: What support does Chronic Tacos offer its franchisees?
MM: Every franchisee goes through our extensive training program at our headquarters in Orange County that is called the Chronic Tacos University (CTU) Training Program. This training program goes over every inch of Chronic Tacos ranging from the uniqueness of the Chronic Tacos Culture, Foundation, and Franchising System.
Our corporate team spends one-on-one time with the new franchisee to explain how to market the business, coordinate employees’ schedules, run a positive and successful social media presence, manage both administrative and financial components of the business, and how to oversee the employees.
Our training team will also teach specific tasks such as applying for a local business license, obtaining your Federal Tax ID number, and more expansive assignments such as initial employee hiring, POS system training, and the development of your grand opening target marketing campaign.
The CTU Training Program ensures that you maximize your time before opening. Franchisees also learn the ins and outs of the Chronic Tacos menu, recipes, ordering process, customer service best practices, and much more.
Once you have signed with us, a Franchise Support Manager will be assigned to you as your guide and mentor through the opening process and thereafter. The Franchise Support Manager provides weekly calls, as well as quarterly store visits throughout the year to ensure success. The Franchise Support Manager is available to answer any questions, review quarterly financials to plan for a profitable upcoming quarter, and provide any support needed.
FC: What qualities does Chronic Tacos look for in a potential franchisee?
MM: Our Southern California-inspired culture and our traditional recipes are our foundation and where we find to be unique in our sector. When we are approached by prospects, we evaluate whether our culture will properly be brought to life by an engaged and hands-on franchisee or operator.
We also look at the desired region and location for a few reasons. First, we look to see if a location is not in an area close to where we’re already expanding to avoid over penetration in one area. Second, since authenticity is so important to us, we do not compromise the taste and ingredients of our recipes. If we can’t logistically get the food quality that we want there, we won’t choose to grow there.
When picking sites and new markets, we use our analytics software program SiteZeus, which helps us evaluate sites and target new territories to enter throughout the country.
FC: What is next for Chronic Tacos?
MM: Just to keep expanding. We continue to see such positive growth and demand that we just want to keep up what we have going for the brand. It’s exciting. We’re up to three open locations in Japan as of this year which is a huge step in the international market and we’re just excited to see where we are in a few years’ time.