Salsa’s franchisee puts theory into practice

By Sarah Stowe | 29 Oct 2015 View comments

Kate Mizerski was an ace when it came to the theoretical side of running a small business; however she had no first hand experience in the area – a realisation that prompted her to take on a Salsa’s Fresh Mex Grill franchise.

Armed with a PHD in marketing, Kate left behind her career as a lecturer in small business marketing and opened her first Salsa’s store in August 2011.

Almost two years later, she runs two successful stores, one in Mt Lawley and the other in Booragoon, Western Australia.

“For 20 years I had been teaching students how to run a business but I had never really done so myself.  

“Moving out of my comfort zone of being in front of a class was a bit daunting so I thought it best to go with a franchise as it would give me a tried and tested model and I’d have a team to turn to for help and support,” she says.

WHY SALSA'S? 

US born Kate decided on Salsa’s because she loves Mexican fare, and when she first moved to Australia 17 years ago she was disappointed by the lack of venues that offered the food.

“I grew up eating Mexican so it was a cuisine I really missed as an eat-out option. When my family and I first started discussing options, the first thing that came to mind was Mexican.

“I didn’t want to go the Taco Bell route for a number of reasons, so I started doing some research and came across Salsa’s. There were already two in WA so I staked them out, tried the food, watched the customers and decided it was the one for me,” she explains.

A TYPICAL DAY

Kate says her days have changed markedly since she took on her second store. “Now I divide my time between the two, although the new store gets the majority of my physical presence.

“I believe that for a store to succeed, you have to be fully involved. I work in store five to six days a week and roster myself on as a regular person – this means doing everything from working the register and making the food to talking with customers (my favourite) and cleaning.”

Kate also devotes a portion of her time to administrative tasks, and she always makes an effort to spend quality time with her children.

“During quiet time I catch up on paperwork and do forward planning. I have two high school aged children so I aim to be home at least three afternoons a week to spend time with them and to keep a ‘normal’ family life,” she adds.

TRAINING AND SUPPORT 

Kate says Salsa’s initial training was second to none, and the brand’s ongoing support and training has helped her achieve a number of business goals.

“I loved the training; it introduced me to all aspects of the business and made me feel comfortable making decisions.

“The ongoing support and training is also useful in keeping the business vibrant and on a growth trajectory.”

LOCAL AREA MARKETING 

Kate believes it is vital business owners engage with their local communities, and as such both her stores are involved in a range of community based initiatives. 

“I strongly believe that if you are going to be successful, you have to embrace your community and act as a member so it becomes a relationship where you are viewed as part of the community and not solely as a business out to get customer’s money. 

“In the food court location, I support local sporting teams by providing ‘player of the week’ certificates. As someone who has been a recipient (via my kids’ sport), I know that if a child has a gift certificate, it is likely the parent is going to go and sample the food as well.

“My other store is fast casual and it is located in a vibrant community with strong community groups. I have also involved myself with the local retailer group and organised neighbourhood events," she explains. 

GOALS 

Kate is a high achiever, and she is willing to work the hard yards to ensure her stores perform to the best of their ability.

“I want to make it the number one business in the state, and to make it consistently in the top 10 in the country.

“I want to provide an outstanding experience so people come back and tell their friends to come back. With a franchise, you’re in for the long haul – you have to build on what you have and work to your strengths. I think my strengths are people skills and providing outstanding product. If I can convey this to my customers, I will reach my goal of being number one,” she explains.

THE FRANCHISEE EXPERIENCE 

Kate says franchising has changed her life in more ways than one, and she believes it is the best career move she has ever made. “It is never dull, always challenging and always fun (although sometimes very tiring!)," she says. 

Kate explains those close to her agree franchising has had a positive impact on her life, and she is fond of the fact that no day is ever the same.  

“My family comments how much happier I seem since starting this business. I have the comfort of knowing I have a strong support network behind me, a strong brand and that there is tremendous growth potential.

“I wake up every day and wonder what the day will bring. I tell my team members (who are all young gamers), this is like a game – our goal is to win, and to do that we need to provide the best customer experience – winning provides rewards for all."