Without a doubt, Covid-19 has impacted the way Chipotle locations across the country operate. And not in a positive way.
In this post, I’m going to give you couple of examples of things I’ve seen take place at Chipotle restaurants, recently, and why corporate needs to start offering Chipotle franchises again. Wait. Doesn’t Chipotle offer franchises? Keep reading.
Chipotle: An Impressive Fast-Food Restaurant Chain That Doesn’t Offer Chipotle Franchise Opportunities
I remember how impressed I was the first time I stepped into one of my local Chipotle® restaurants. It was clean, well-designed, and was quite an efficient operation. And the food? Fantastic. Quite the impressive fast food franchise, or so I thought.
There Is No Such Thing As A Chipotle Franchise
You heard it here first. Maybe.
Fact is, the company doesn’t offer franchises. So stop Googling “Chipotle franchise cost.” You’re wasting your time, although a lot of websites in the franchise space want you to think Chipotle corporate offers franchises.
So to be clear, you can’t buy a Chipotle franchise!
That said, the fast food restaurant does offer great portions that taste fresh. And the food super-satisfying. Plus in my case, Chipotle instantly inherited a customer for life, franchise or not. And I don’t say* that lightly.
*My family harasses me every time I offer a verbal review of a restaurant we just dined at.
That’s because 9 times out of 10 I say that the food was “average.”
Translation: I’m not easily impressed.
In view of that, I’m sorry to say that both Chipotle locations near me have received my “average” rating. Let me tell you why.
My 3 Biggest Problems With The Two Chipotle Locations Near Me
When I want to navigate to the nearest Chipotle, I have two locations near me to choose from. Both are within 3 miles of my Castle.
With that in mind, here’s what I’ve experienced at both restaurants.
First off, the Chipotle restaurants near me have inconsistent, aggravating ordering options.
9 times out of 10, I order Chipotle from my desktop. It’s easy to do. Painless even. Corporate has put together an excellent back-end system for online orders. It’s intuitive and customers can get rewards just by ordering online. It’s actually the best online ordering platform I’ve ever used.
That said, I do get urges.
For example, if I’m running errands around lunchtime-and I’m hungry, I may have the urge for a double-wrapped, Chipotle Barbacoa Burrito (with extra rice and a side of guac).
So recently, when I let the urge win, I drove to the Chipotle nearest my Castle, got out of my chariot, walked to the front door of the restaurant…and stopped.
Because of the sign on the door:
“Sorry. We Are Only Taking Online Orders At This Time” Huh?
That left me two choices.
A. I could climb back into my chariot, download the Chipotle App, and order my food.
B. Drive away aggravated and find something else to eat.
I drove away. And I was pissed.
“Why didn’t you just order from the car, Joel”
Because I didn’t want to fudge with an App I never used before and then sit in my car for gosh knows how long till my food was ready.
So my question to Chipotle corporate:
How was I supposed to know the Chipotle location near me was closed for in-person ordering?
The experience was inconvenient and amateurish. And it’s happened to me more than once.
Super-Long Wait Times
The second problem I’ve experienced at both Chipotle locations near me are the incredibly long wait times to get my food.
On 3 separate occasions, after ordering my food online, I’ve waited for almost an hour (alongside 5-10 other aggravated customers) to get my food.
It should be noted that I’m not an idiot.
I know small businesses are experiencing severe labor shortages. I have eyes!
In the case of Chipotle, I’d estimate that each restaurant is operating with 50% less staff. That sucks!
I know what you’re thinking.
“If you know that, why are you bitching about how long it takes to get your food?”
Because I want to eat Chipotle’s food (sounds a bit spoiled. Sorry). I like it that much. Wait. That’s kind of a problem too.
At Times, The Taste Is Off
The third problem has to do with taste.
More specifically, on more than one occasion, the food I ordered wasn’t very good. It didn’t taste right. Something was “off.”
Now I don’t think corporate changed any of their recipes. I 100% feel it’s employee related.
I know from my own experience in the restaurant business, employees who don’t get a lot of training tend to mess things up. A lot.
Again, I’d like to remind you that I’m not an idiot.
I understand that these days, restaurants like Chipotle need to go with the employees they have, regardless of their experience, knowledge, or training. It’s about having enough bodies to keep the business afloat.
Unless the operation is so bad it’s going to end up closing anyway-because it has become so poorly run. Which has always been a common theme in the food-service business.
Again, they aren’t enough trained employees because who has time to train employees while owners or managers are just trying to keep their businesses above water?
What an ugly cycle!
But I may have a partial solution.
As in Chipotle franchises!
Chipotle Needs To Make Chipotle Franchises Available
You may not know this, but at one time, Chipotle did have a few franchise units. Not anymore though, even though it’s been discussed.
From the Associated Press:
“Back in 2018, Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol announced that the company would be considering the possibility of franchising Chipotle Mexican Grill. As of now, Chipotle still owns all of its stores.
The restaurant chain bought back the few Chipotle that it had sold so that it would be a completely corporate-owned commodity.
While the possibility of the company once again going into talks about franchising, they have yet to make any concrete announcements regarding the matter. As of now, investors cannot even license out Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants like one might be able to with a Starbucks, for example.”
What if Chipotle franchises were available? Would you open a Chipotle franchise?
Would you open one? Or two? Or 10?
Chipotle Doesn’t Want To Franchise
“We believe that companies franchise for two reasons,” says Chris Arnold, Chipotle’s communications director. “Either they need money to grow or they need operators to run restaurants. Chipotle doesn’t need either.”
That quote was from 2015. So what’s changed?
For one, Steve Ells (founder) stepped down from the board. He had already relinquished his role as CEO because of the food safety issues the chain experienced a couple of years ago. And his replacement, Brian Niccol, has done a good job. And his motto, “We want to give every customer a great experience every time,” is a good one. And it’s a great goal to keep top of mind.
Then the pandemic hit.
And Chipotle has fallen short.
That said, it’s still a good operation. But it’s not a great one. Like before.
How Converting Local Chipotle Locations Into Franchise Locations Would Be A Win-Win
I’m convinced that local owners-franchisees, would do a better job than local managers. Why?
Because they’d have real skin in the game.
Not employee skin.
Experience tells me that owners care a lot more than employees do.
Not that being an employee is a bad thing, or that there aren’t employees who act as if they’re owners. Which what I did when I was an employee. I pretended that the business was mine, and I did whatever I could (in my limited power as an employee) to make things go smoothly and to right wrongs. But I didn’t have money tied up in the business. Like franchisees do.
In addition to having money in the game, active Chipotle franchise owners would be able to react much faster to changing local conditions. Like severe staffing shortages, product shortages, and more. That’s because they’re seeing what’s going on in real-time.
Could some of the problems I experienced as a (loyal) customer be lessened if the Chipotle restaurants near my Castle were owned by local businesspeople? Probably.
And what about food quality?
I think it would be even better with an “owner” supervising things.
Heck, maybe the owner could be a seasoned Chipotle manager, who with Chipotle’s help, could become a franchisee. Other chains do it.
More people would have an opportunity to go after “The American Dream.”
That would be a win for all parties involved.
Another Win For Chipotle
Can you imagine the amount of publicity Chipotle would receive with a national press release like this:
“Chipotle To Offer Franchises!”
Finally, I’m not sure if I’ve provided enough compelling reasons for Chipotle to start franchising it’s restaurants. I may have missed a few.
With that in mind, can you think of any other reasons Chipotle should start offering franchises again?
Would you buy a Chipotle franchise?