Mucho Burrito - VP of MTY Group, John Delutis

Date: SEP 8th, 2014

Topic: Interview with a CEO

John Delutis is the Brand Vice President for Mucho Burrito franchise for the MTY Group and has been at the helm since October of 2009. John is the General Manager for the business and is responsible for leading all facets of the business, reporting to The Chief Operating Officer of The MTY Group.

John is a seasoned food service executive with a strong record of accomplishment in the food service business holding various positions with leading organizations such as Tim Horton’s and Second Cup.

John started his career in operations and through progression has played key roles in various other functions such as Franchising, Real Estate, Marketing and Procurement making him well suited to his current General Manager responsibilities.

John has been instrumental in leading the impressive growth of Mucho Burrito franchise across all key metrics from System Sales, Same Store Sales, Average Unit Volumes and number of locations.

BeTheBoss.ca: Tell us about the Mucho Burrito franchise concept.

John Delutis: Mucho Burrito franchise is a guest obsessed fresh Mexican grill that stimulates the senses. We are committed to delivering a fresh, flavourful and distinctive Mexican culinary experience in a warm, comfortable and premium surrounding. Real food; Great food is at our core.

At Mucho we make our food daily in each of our restaurants the old fashioned way using real and fresh ingredients and traditional Mexican cooking methods. We prep and cook throughout the day, charbroil our meats and pan fry our fish in front of you so you can feel good about the food you eat. We have a broad menu that provides lots of options and many of our offerings can be personalized for you. The quality of our food and the breadth of our menu are two differences that set us apart.

Mucho Burrito franchise is the market leader for fresh, authentic Mexican food in Canada. We were founded in 2006 in Mississauga Ontario and are part of the MTY Group that operates more 2600 location under 30 banners. Mucho Burrito currently operates more than 80 locations in Canada with recent entries into the USA and the UK.

BTB: How and when did you become involved with Mucho Burrito franchise?

JD: This industry is very small and I was introduced to the concept and the founders back in September of 2009 by a friend and previous colleague. It has always been important to me to have a connection and a sense of pride to the company I am part of. I need to believe in and be passionate about the products or service it provides and that was easy to find with Mucho. I was extremely impressed by the quality of food and the quality of the people. A month later I was running the brand.

BTB: What was your background prior to joining Mucho Burrito business?

JD: I have been in the food service and hospitality business my whole career and got an early look at the QSR industry and franchising. My first part time job was working for a Tim Horton’s Franchisee as a young teenager. That experience was very valuable to me and that particular franchisee positively influenced my work ethic and sense of pride for a job well done. In my professional career I have had the good fortune to work in various capacities for leading companies like Tim Horton’s and Second Cup. Prior to joining Mucho Burrito I was the Vice President of Operations with Second Cup, a member of their Senior Executive Team and was involved in Franchisee selection, Real Estate selection and managed coffee quality and procurement.

BTB: What are some of the advantages in being a Mucho Burrito franchise business owner (franchisee)?

JD: There are many advantages to being a Mucho Burrito franchise business owner (franchisee). To start you are joining the market leader in Canada and will profit from the brand recognition it provides. You benefit from our organizational expertise as it pertains to site selection, restaurant design and construction. You are supported with a strong training program, store opening support and ongoing coaching and support from experienced Business Development Consultants and other head office personnel. Operating systems, menu development, National Marketing programs and on-going brand evolution are all done for you so you can focus on execution and delighting your guest. In addition to all of that you are entering a young and exciting under-developed category in the Canadian marketplace and are part of a much larger organization in The MTY Group.

BTB: Who is your ideal franchise business owner (franchisee)?

JD: First and foremost a candidate has to have the personality for this business and be passionate about the concept or the brand. Many technical skills can be taught but passion and personality can’t. In addition to that a genuine interest in people, the ability to trust and empower, an optimistic attitude, a self-starter and someone who owns their results and takes responsibility is important. Relationship management is critical to success, especially with their employees and their guests. We sell food but we are in the people business.

BTB: Tell us a little about the QSR/Fast Casual Market?

JD: This market is more competitive today than any other time in my professional career. There are more options and choices today than ever before. This is in part because of our cultural diversity and how that influences the category, in part because the world has become a smaller place through technology and because today’s consumers are demanding it. People are more educated about food today than they were before and they are influencing menu offerings with their voting dollars. This provides tremendous upside for Mucho Burrito who offers something different and on trend that is real food focused.

BTB: What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise opportunity?

JD: Being curious and asking why are critically important to avoiding complacency and maintaining growth. This is especially true in a dynamic and ever changing space like the one we play in. It is easy to continue to do what you have always done but cultivating a culture of curiosity and healthy tension is a huge asset.

Having a key point of difference and understanding how to execute it in unique and meaningful ways is very important and often times you can look to industries outside of the one you are in for ideas and inspiration.

In a franchise business trust and transparency are very important and good, open communication, repetition of key messages, great story–telling and lots of two way conversations all really help cultivate that culture and allow you to make better decisions. It is important to speak with lots of stakeholder’s at all different levels, especially the guest, to get an unfiltered view of what is really happening. The people closest to a situation often know it best and can offer great insight. In this business execution is everything and we are in it together.

BTB: Do you have a mentor and is there someone you use for inspiration?

JD: I have been blessed over the duration of my career to have worked with many excellent people and have had several mentors.

So many that I couldn’t list them all here. I believe we all learn from each other and there are learning opportunities everywhere if you are open to them.

As I said earlier my first boss in my first part time job really instilled a strong work ethic and sense of pride for a job well done. His name was Brian Gilmore and he was one of the early multi-unit Tim Horton franchisees when they had less than 100 locations. He gave me a foundation on which many others helped me build along the way.

More recently a true mentor, someone I have tremendous respect for and someone I still reach out to on a regular basis today is Bruce Elliot. Bruce spent 27 years at Labatt’s and was the President for the Canadian and Cuban operations when he left. I was introduced to him when he came to Second Cup as President and CEO. He is a mentor a friend and someone who has had a significant and positive impact on my development.

There have been many people in-between and since and I continue to learn from other people every day.

BTB: What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise opportunity?

JD: I have lots of advice because this is a big decision. First and foremost choose something you identify with and are passionate about because to truly make it successful you are going to spend a great deal of time there and will work very hard. If you love what you do it won’t feel so much like work.

Be sure you are someone that really values people (especially younger people as they will represent the bulk of your team) and can delegate and relinquish some real authority so you can work not only in but on your business. In this business you are only as good as your team and your success is heavily influenced by them. They will deliver the food and the experience and will touch more of your guests then you will on a day to day basis.

You need to be someone who sees the glass as half full and someone who can take initiative and self-responsibility. You have the support of the brand and the team but ultimately it is your business and you own the results.

Lastly, do your homework and believe in the brand and the location you are going to purchase. Outside of the concept do you like the culture, do you like the corporate team, do you share the same values? Talk to other franchisees and keep talking to them until you hear something you don’t like. There are pros and cons to every franchise business even the best and most storied. Make sure the fit is good.

BTB: In your opinion, why do you think that Mucho Burrito would be a great business opportunity for someone?

JD: For many of the reasons I have already mentioned. Mucho is on trend in an under-represented and growing category. We are the market leader, we are food focused and use real and fresh ingredients made on premise daily in a premium, brand aligned environment. We have an impressive track record, are poised for growth, we have a strong, experienced and dedicated team and have the benefit of being part of a much larger successful, The MTY Group. I think Mucho is an excellent opportunity for those who are passionate about the same things we are.