Zambrero rapid growth (1)

Zambrero super charged for rapid growth with a heart-warming mission

Sarah Stowe

Zambrero, the fast food Mexican restaurant with a heart, is gearing up for phenomenal growth over the next three years.

The business began in Canberra in 2005. Now it’s set to double its Australian footprint by 2025.

Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are particular growth hot-spots with plenty of potential for new franchisees to join the community-focused brand.

Chief Operating Officer, Jake Shaw, says “We’ve got a strong growth plan, and we’re approaching 250 fast casual dining restaurants globally.

“If you think about 17 years of growth, and now we want to double our current footprint in Australia in three years, you realise how aggressive this growth plan is.

“We have an incredibly strong business in Far North Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT and there are still a lot of opportunities. However we expect 70 per cent of our growth to come from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.”

Zambrero’s rapid growth is backed by great site selection

Zambrero is well-placed to help franchisees find the right sites because of the flexible restaurant options available. Restaurants can be as small as 35 sqm kiosks or as big as 350 sqm drive-throughs. 

“A potential franchise partner will often contact us about a site they’ve found in their local area. More often than not we can make it work, and our flexible model allows for potentially lower upfront entry costs.

“We’re very methodical in our approach and calculations of new sites,” says Jake. “We look closely at demographics, traffic flows, where people are ordering from, their purchasing habits.”

He says it’s a different operating environment to three years ago.

“Delivery partners have changed the game a lot,” says Jake. “Restaurants operating perhaps 2km away from each other, likely overlap each other now in delivery radius. We need to be conscious of that in our site selection process.

“This emphasises that sophisticated site selection is crucial.”

And so is future-proofing the business model, something Zambrero is doing with a focus on the delivery customer.

“Delivery partners are a critical part of our business and we welcome that. That being said, we have developed our own Zam App for pick up and delivery orders which allows us to nurture our own customer database and drive repeat purchase,” says Jake. 

Simple operating model helps drive strong profits

One of the unique things about the business is it is a very simple operating model, he says.

“Our franchise partners can operate with comparatively low costs and this helps drive a strong profit outcome.”

Jake says the key is Zambrero’s investment and development in relationships with long term suppliers. This allows the business to leverage its size and growth to achieve the best pricing possible.

But success isn’t all about keeping costs low.

“One of the things that makes Zambrero an extraordinary business to be a part of is the Plate 4 Plate initiative. It’s a core part of our DNA and gives us a very unique position in the marketplace – for our franchisees, team members and our customers. It’s why we are truly ‘Feel Good Mex’.”

Zambrero maintains passion for doing good while managing rapid growth

Every time a customer buys a regular burrito, bowl or retail item at Zambrero, the feel good Mexican chain donates a meal to someone in need.

The donated meals are distributed by charity partners internationally, and in Australia through Foodbank.

An extraordinary 62 million meals and counting have been donated through Plate 4 Plate.

“For franchise partners it’s a unique opportunity to be part of a brand serving fresh, delicious food, and making the world a better place. It’s core to who we are and it drives us every day,” says Jake.

This is important to existing franchisees and it’s a big drawcard for franchise buyers too, he says.

“It strikes a chord. It’s indicative of our broader culture. Part of our franchise partner enquiries and onboarding process is actually a culture meeting with our CEO. He meets with every prospective franchisee because it is important that you fit with our values and brand.”

Supporting franchisees growth

In return, franchise buyers are wanting details of the metrics, turnover, profitability and the ongoing support available.

“We’ve invested in support from head office and in the field – whether that’s marketing, finance, training, food safety, leasing or people and culture. We have open lines of communication between franchise partners and head office; it is something we are really proud of. 

“We’re very transparent and that’s increasingly important to franchise partners,” says Jake. 

“We have great tenure; existing franchisees stay in the business long term. Our operating model allows them to be profitable, backed up by the robust ongoing support we provide.”

Another option that contributes to Zambrero’s rapid growth, and is increasingly popular for franchisees, is buying a second or third restaurant. In fact in some of the franchisees have six, seven or even eight Zambrero restaurants and counting.

On average franchisees have 1.5 restaurants, a figure that Jake expects to grow. It’s a model that works for everyone – Zambrero knows and trusts the franchisee, the franchise partners know and trust the system.

In a recent survey more than 70 per cent of respondents said they were keen to open another restaurant.

“It’s a great sign of happy and engaged franchisees, and a sign of strength for our future growth” says Jake.