In 1999, Brent Veach signed a three-unit development contract with Del Taco, but he had no idea how it would change his life. The CPA and Baylor graduate thought he might eventually run five or six stores, but now 20 years later, Veach owns 50 stores in Colorado and Arizona and is the largest franchisee of the Del Taco brand.
“I believed in the brand and the product,” he says. “As a franchisee and a guest, I love the food, and at the end of the day, that’s what our guests come in for.”
With it’s “Buck and Under” menu—which Veach says still fetches high margins for franchisees—Del Taco is priced competitively in the quick-service industry, but the brand also focuses on providing food made from high-quality ingredients.
“We prepare our food fresh,” says Dave Wetzel, vice president of franchise operations for Del Taco. “We’ve handgrated cheese, slow cooked beans, and grilled steak and chicken in-store since the brand was launched. Other brands have moved work out of their kitchens and now bring in processed or pre-prepared items or ingredients, but that’s not our style—we make food from scratch and serve fresh.”
The brand has become so synonymous with high-quality Mexican food that though Del Taco is based on the West Coast, it has earned a national fan base franchisees can tap into when they develop new markets. Veach says guests often line up outside his restaurants when he opens new stores in a market. In fact, he even set a sales record for his company when he recently opened a new restaurant in the Phoenix area.
“We ended up having so much traffic we had to hire a traffic patrol policeman,” Veach says.
With an already strong menu in place, the culinary team continues developing new innovative products to broaden its customer base. For example, Del Taco recently launched a plant protein-based Beyond Meat taco that appeals to vegetarians and vegans and has brought in a whole new cadre of consumers.
Franchisees receive strong benefits, too, such as opening and marketing support. They also enjoy direct access to the corporate team to share their ideas. “We can call the corporate support team members on their cell phones, and they are very quick to respond,” Veach says. “Even when I call with a construction issue, it’s rare that someone hasn’t seen it before.”
Because Del Taco is the largest operator of the chain with over 322 company restaurants, the leadership team understands the business from the franchisee perspective. They are focused on bottom line profits and tests every new product or piece of equipment thoroughly before asking franchisees to invest.
From the top to the bottom, the Del Taco brand operates on a commitment to strong operations—serving quality food and delivering a great guest experience. That’s why Del Taco looks for applicants who are usually already fans of the brand, have strong business and operations experience in the food arena, and are ready to become highly involved in the business. In return, those dedicated franchisees can experience strong business results.
“My plan is to stay in the brand another 20 years ultimately passing it along to my son,” Veach says. “I love the leadership team, the brand, and the business model—it just works.”
By Peggy Carouthers