“We are ready to expand into France, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands.” Zócalo just turned 20 years, and the franchise is booming like never before. What’s the secret to their success? I asked CEO Einar Örn Einarsson.
When Einar and his co-founder opened their first restaurant, they had no hospitality experience. “I had never even worked in a restaurant. All we had was the dream of starting our own restaurant.”
“The first unit was a success. It was in a great location, and we picked it up from there.”
And look at Zócola now. After Sweden, Denmark & the UK, the ‘fresh Mex’ concept from Stockholm is ready to take on the rest of Europe, and the world! A master franchise for the USA & UAE is on the table.
They build the franchise from scratch–how did they do it?
CEO Einar explains:
🔧 Constantly perfecting – “We learnt how to run restaurants along the way. We are always looking for ways to improve the concept and operations. You have to remain critical of what you do. It’s the best way to progress.”
👨💼 The right people – “Essential to our success are the people we work with. We’ve hired people with experience and learned so much from them. Later on, we also learned a lot from the franchisees. They brought new insights and methodologies to the company that helped to streamline everything.”
👇 Keep a finger on the pulse – “People’s tastes and preferences change over time. Take a popular item like hamburgers, compared to 10 years ago in Stockholm, it’s a completely different product. You have to be aware of these changes for menu development.”
🏪 Franchising – “A pivotal moment in our growth was franchising the concept 7 years ago. We couldn’t expand the way wanted anymore. Building new restaurants ourselves would have required outside investors that would want a share. We wanted stay in control. Today all units are franchise locations. The franchisees handle daily operations and we take care of everything else.”
📲 Digital – Growth also manifests itself in the number of sales channels. “Ordering is very different from before. There’s not only POS, but also take away and 3th party delivery. We use the latest modern technology. All our ordering, inventory and quality controls are done in a online system. Our franchisees have access to an online report system with up to the minute sales and labor costs.”
💪 Efficiency – “Zócalo restaurants can have between 1-10 staff working at the same time. The concept has been developed in the high-wage market of Sweden, and therefore there is an intense focus on making everything efficient and easy for the staff to handle.”
Zócalo more than deserves its spot in our article:
See what other concepts & brands made the list:
🇸🇪 Sweden and