Scott reveals his secrets to owning a successful franchise

Meet Scott Lee, Mad Mex franchisee and owner of Mad Mex Garden City and Mad Mex Pacific Fair. Scott has come from working in various sales, marketing and logistics roles for major international goods companies. However, after seeing a friend and colleague leave his job and find success through buying and turning around a struggling outlet, Scott was inspired to leave his own corporate career path.

Being an American who grew up eating amazing Mexican food in Southern California, Scott considers himself well-schooled on what can and cannot be considered good quality Mexican food. He says, “Mad Mex, for me, was one of the very few Mexican places who actually managed to offer me that nostalgic experience.” After plenty of research and advice from the Mad Mex support office, Scott decided to take the plunge and buy his first franchise.

Why did you choose Mad Mex? What won you over?
To be honest I think what really got us over the line was meeting the company founder and his dedicated team. It was clear from the start that this franchisor wasn’t so blindly volume-growth focused like many of the other franchisors we’d met with.

I believe a lot of credit has to be given to the thriving culture of fun at Mad Mex. It’s not just that they have a great product, but also that they place so much emphasis on the fun and family atmosphere experience of dining, which so many other operators almost completely ignore.

What do you love about where you Mad Mex stores are located?
My first location in Southern Brisbane allowed me to leave Sydney and return to a state where I’d spent some of my childhood. I loved that flexibility and that my line of work didn’t dictate where I chose to live.

What have you found the most rewarding to date?
Whilst a bit of a cliché to say, the flexibility of being your own boss cannot be overlooked. However, I still think I really get the most satisfaction from interacting with a customer or table of people who’ve honestly and wholeheartedly enjoyed the food and experience we have to offer.

What have you found the most challenging to date?
Managing a primarily young and transient team of employees. Coming from a corporate background where most employees are a bit more steadfast and committed, it has been a challenging adjustment to recruit and maintain people who are inevitably motivated by more short-term factors.

Early on I made the error of prioritising the hiring of people who may’ve had previous experience in restaurants, whereas now I place far more emphasis on a great attitude, work ethic and enthusiasm. In other words, teaching somebody to prepare guacamole, roll burritos and sweep the floor is very achievable – whereas on the flipside, teaching an employee to have confidence, smile and have fun whilst working hard – well that is often a very tall order.

How has Mad Mex helped you along the way? What are some of the most valuable things they have done to support you?
At the end of the day, like any franchisor, Mad Mex has a mutual interest in seeing franchisee businesses succeed and thrive long term. As a point of difference – I think that the absence of a typically restrictive silo structure at the support office means franchisees can pick up the phone at any time and speak to any stakeholder, be it from other operators right up to the Head Honcho CEO. As a result, I think as a franchisee I don’t feel like just another outlet number, as might be the case at some of the larger franchise networks. It still has that family feel to it and the people working in the support office live and breathe our brand.

Do you have any advice for other franchisees?
Make sure buying a food franchise is right for you. This is something you’ll be dedicating a lot of your life to for a period of time, so make sure it’s something that you’re passionate about. Don’t think of this as a cash cow or short term escape from a career you might despise.

Some days are going to be really tough but if you’re committed, organised and goal oriented, it can and will be extremely rewarding and a very wise career change. I don’t regret taking the plunge and am very happy with where I am.

September 9, 2016 back to all articles

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