TacoTime Franchise Review: Q&A with Kevin Gingrich
The Brand President explains why the 60th anniversary is only the beginning for the iconic Mexican food franchise
It’s no secret that the restaurant business is a challenge. Starting a business requires vision, a spot-on location and much capital. Staying in business, however, requires delicious food, expert leadership as well as robust training and support. Even still, unfortunately, there are countless restaurants that don’t last long after serving up their first order. According to therestaurantbrokers.com, 90 percent of independent establishments close during their first year, while the remaining businesses will have an average five-year life span.
If that’s the case, then restaurant veteran TacoTime represents the .01 percent. The iconic Mexican food franchise celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2020 and credits its craveable food, simple business model and cult-like following for its longevity.
TacoTime is ready for the spotlight. With more than 300 locations in the United States and Canada, our Mexican food franchise is ready to break out of its home turf in the Pacific Northwest and hit the national stage. TacoTime is looking for entrepreneurs who are passionate about bringing affordable Mexican food to their communities. TacoTime is led by a veteran franchise team and has a dedicated brand support team as part of the Kahala Brands family.
In this wide-ranging interview, Kevin Gingrich, TacoTime Brand President and owner of several TacoTime franchise locations in Utah, shares how the brand has lasted for six decades and what’s next on the menu for the iconic brand.
Congrats! TacoTime has accomplished a feat not many restaurants accomplish. How does it feel to have made it 60 years?
Gingrich: Thank you! One of the key things this tells the public at large, along with potential franchisees is this is truly a legacy brand that is multigenerational. We have generations of family members that have taken over for their parents or grandparents. If this brand didn’t work – if the systems, procedures and policies, and business plan didn’t work – we would not be here after 60 years. So we have a proven business model that works. Our brand has done a phenomenal job for 60 years.
Why do you think TacoTime has sustained all these years?
Gingrich: There are a couple of reasons. The first is our flavor profile. When you go out to eat, there are so many different factors, but what it comes down to is the product. So our taste profile, which is the proprietary spices that we use, has made a very identifiable taste that people don’t just like, but actually crave. We are predominantly in the Northwest and people travel to our brand. It’s happening right now. College kids are coming home for the holiday break and one of the first things they do is come to TacoTime because they may not have one where they attend school. The second reason as to why we’ve sustained this long is because we prepare our food fresh in-store daily. This includes everything from making the taco shells, chips, salads, salsas and sauces.
What should this accomplishment mean to potential franchise owners?
Gingrich: I think it should be key to them. If I was investigating multiple brands, I’d look at who’s been there, and who’s done it and knows what they’re doing. If a brand has been around for a lengthy amount of time, still has the following of the public, and is successful, that would be the brand I’d want to invest in because otherwise that brand wouldn’t be here.
What continues to make TacoTime standout in the crowded Mexican food QSR segment?
Gingrich: First, the product itself. Although we’ve added products over the years, the predominant products that we have – from our crisp taco and burrito to our rolled soft taco – have not changed in decades. We haven’t changed because our customers love the product itself. We standout from other competitors with this because we have a franchisee base that has been with us for so long, they know how to execute it.
At TacoTime, we involve our franchisees in everything we do from R&D to marketing to new innovations and mandates. We want our franchisees involved so that they are 100 percent behind what we’re doing not only at the corporate level, but also the chain itself. As a franchisee with most brands you’ll have the opportunity to complain, but you’ll never have the opportunity to be on the front end of the decision making. That’s what TacoTime is about. Between us and world-class support from Kahala Brands, we deliver everything our franchisees need to ensure they can focus on their customers so they have an intent to return and their business will be successful.
What do the next 60 years look like for TacoTime?
Gingrich: Everything is changing so fast out there. This includes a restaurant’s square footage getting smaller and the drive-thru now driving about 75 percent of our sales. People are becoming more and more mobile. All of these things are good for us because we can focus on our customers and enter the third-party/mobile ordering market. We’re aiming to have the necessary equipment and systems in place by the third quarter to roll out mobile ordering system wide.
TacoTime has remained nimble and adapted as consumer preferences change. This is beneficial for us franchisees because they aren’t in this because they love being in the kitchen making food, they’re in it to make money. So our model has to continually change and evolve so that franchisees can get a return on their investment. The quicker they can get a return on their investment, the quicker they can add more locations or bring in other people to the business.
Why is now a good time to invest in a TacoTime franchise?
Gingrich: Right now is a very good time because we want to expand outside of the Northwest. We get hundreds of requests every year to have locations outside of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming and Utah. So there’s a great opportunity to move to California, Nevada, North and South Dakota and more. It’s a great time because, again, the business model works and that’s been proven for 60 years, but we also have brand awareness. As long as we’re not going too far from where people know who we are, we are certain we will work where people know about TacoTime.