Rick Villalpando - MR Mikes SteakhouseCasual
Senior Vice President of Business Development for RAMMP Hospitality Brands Inc.
BeTheBoss.ca: How long have you been in franchising?
Rick Villalpando: I have been involved in franchising since 1988, and I’ve been with RAMMP Hospitality since 2010. I was actually one of the first employees that they hired on at RAMMP. Initially they had 2 other Heritage brands in Vancouver and at the end of 2010 we acquired Mr. Mikes and that quickly became our #1. We sold the other 2 brands and focused all our attention on Mr. Mikes.
BTB: What made you decide to get into franchising?
RV: The idea of franchising really appealed to me. You have an operations formula with a proven method of running the business and you have a group of people that will help you to be successful along the way. It became very obvious that if the franchisee followed the guidelines of the franchisor, they would become successful. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be. So, it was pretty simple and took away a lot of the unknowns that you would have if you were an independent. I liked the idea of getting people into business where they could be successful.
BTB: What have been some of the challenges of growing the Mr. Mike’s franchise?
RV: There were a few initially. We had brand recognition in Western Canada, more than I had even realized in fact, but along with that came the idea that we were the old Mr. Mikes with the salad bar, the counter and not the same quality of steaks that we wanted to be known for. It didn’t take the public or the potential franchisees very long to realize that we were different and offered a quality experience now, but it took much longer to win over the developers. We had to get them to understand that we weren’t the old Mr. Mike’s but a brand-new version, and we fit perfectly into their developments.
BTB: Who is your ideal franchisee and what are you looking for in a franchisee?
RV: Obviously restaurant experience is very beneficial, but I think the most important thing for me is that you can train a lot of things, but you can’t train enthusiasm. You can’t train people to work with people effectively – you have to really like people to work with them. So, I look for people who have a positive nature and outgoing personality. They like dealing with people and it’s obvious that they do, and they’re not afraid to get outside of the 4 walls and talk to the public to promote their business. So, personality is a key thing that I’m looking for. I also like to see a franchisee with business expertise. They may have run a business for someone else or have run departments in large companies and have had direct management exposure to employees. So, business expertise, a great, outgoing, positive personality, the ability to market the concept, and a proven ability to work with people.
BTB: What advice would you have for someone who is looking to become a franchisee in general?
RV: The most important thing is to find a business that you’re excited and enthusiastic about. It has to be something that you have a passion. Having a passion for the business is essential for success.. Love the business and find a franchise system that shares your values.
With 40 restaurants and an ambitious growth plan, Mr. Mikes SteakhouseCasual offers franchise opportunities across the country. Click here to learn more about Mr. Mikes SteakhouseCasual.