Industry News | January 14, 2009

How One Brand is Weathering the Storm

Carlos Budet is finding there’s one small glitch in his big plans for the 185-unit Taco Maker chain. The recession.

Budet, president and CEO of FransGlobal, which owns Taco Maker, has a growing brand in the taco, burrito, and nacho chain. More than 900 stores were contracted for development over the last 18 months alone.

Still, like the rest of the business world, Budet is finding financing to be a bit of a challenge. “It has been very difficult,” Budet says. “A lot of people are affected by the credit crunch.”

With plans to be “bigger than Taco Bell,” financing is essential to the success of the company. But the lack of available capital for franchisees might make that more of a dream than a viable goal.

Taco Maker has an aggressive expansion plan in place, focusing on the East Coast and Latin America for new stores, but was only able to open 15 locations in 2008. It had planned for about 125.

While the economy might be slowing Budet’s expansion plans for the company, his vision is not short sighted. He notes chains like Subway which grew over several decades into an international brand as proof that in quick-serve anything is possible if the product appeals to consumers.

So despite the bad economy, Budet estimates that Taco Maker will open as many as 800 stores in the U.S. within the next ten years and is confident 2009 will be profitable with more markets set to open in Latin America and abroad.

“We have a very good sales department and we advertise on the Internet,” he says of recruiting franchisees to carry out his vision for the company. And, of course, the lower startup costs in comparison to competitors like Taco Bell don’t hurt.

“The startup cost is worlds apart,” he says. “You can put up a Taco Maker, including all franchise fees and startup costs, for between $200,000 to $220,000.”

And in times like these, no one needs to remind Budet that money talks.

--Blair Chancey

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