Recently, The Business Plan Company completed a research project on Guzman y Gomez, the highly successful taqueria chain that is steadily growing across Australia. Starting in Sydney’s Newtown in 2006, it now has 80 stores, with 20 new sites slated for 2017, drive-through stores as well as Japan and Singapore. All this, with a reported $150M annual revenue, they must be doing something right. It turns out that Guzman y Gomez have an interesting and very focused approach to business, that small business owners could learn a lot from.
Vision and passion
“Never compromise on your values. If you do that, you’ll win.” Steve Marks, CEO.
Guzman y Gomez (GYG) has a vision: to redefine what fast food is. “We’re going on a journey to prove that fast food can be clean, responsible, nutritious and still be acceptable and affordable.” Whilst many businesses talk the talk, the CEO’s vision can quickly dilute on the journey to the shop floor. At Guzman y Gomez, management at all levels is obsessively passionate about what they do, and it shows, where the customer service team lives up to the marketing promise.
Running a business involves constant decision making, weighing up the pros and cons of various alternatives, often with price pressures that make it very easy to make small compromises on quality. With an eye on keeping customers long-term, GYG stick to their promise and never compromise on quality, even if it costs more. Examples include: sticking with fresh avocado rather than pre-packaged (at a cost of $90,000 a week) and 18 iterations of the corn chip before settling on the perfect recipe.
Let the customers do the talking
No company grows like GYG without marketing, but their approach might surprise. With their obsessive approach to quality, growth has been in the hands of happy customers who drive word of mouth (verbal and digital). To quote Steve Marks: “I never really marketed, I just kept improving my food.” Masters of social media, GYG use a lively, fun and friendly style with free offers and a social conscience to keep the faith with their followers.
The Guzman y Gomez marketing plan has been developed with a strong focus on development of a strong brand with consistent high impact customer experience and use of Below the Line marketing. In a recent 12-month period, Guzman y Gomez hadn’t spent any money on traditional media advertising. Instead, focused on social media campaigns.
Social responsibility is a big deal at Guzman y Gomez, not only to look charitable for good public relations, rather there is a focus on helping others is integrated into the way things are run. Support for Mexican charities is promoted in store, food containers are recycled and the company has a partnership with Lilydale chicken to supply free-range. Ethically sourced pork and beef are next on the agenda.
Surfing the wave
Most industries are crowded, none more so than he food industry; building a new brand takes some skill and often means riding a wave of consumer activity. In the case of GYG, the founder saw a gap in the market for authentic Mexican food. As an American used to eating authentic Mexican, he was not impressed with the Australian interpretation when he landed in Sydney. GYG entered the market at a time where there was little competition for this type of food. In the past decade, the business has helped to build the groundswell of interest in authentic Mexican which it is now riding.
Guzman y Gomez achieve their high standards, consistent experience, happy staff and fast growth through culture. The only way to have a nationwide team aligned and in rhythm, going in the right direction is by knowing what the company stands for, where it is going and feeling passionate about being on the journey. As the CEO says “Culture is everything. “If you shower your crew with love, they’ll shower your guests with love.”