Pollo Campero

Pollo Campero

Pollo Campero wants to bring its unique chicken recipes

even further into the United States through franchising.

By Jim Harris

Openings of new Pollo Campero® outlets in the United States attract long lines of customers. “People will stand in line for hours to eat here,” Vice President of Franchising Gustavo Duran says.

Many of the people who line up to eat Pollo Campero’s chicken on opening day are natives of Central America who grew up with the brand. The first Pollo Campero – Spanish for “chicken from the country” – location opened in 1971 in Guatemala. There are more than 300 Pollo Campero restaurants around the world.

The taste of Pollo Campero’s flavorful chicken is its main attraction to its customers. “We have a unique flavor, and that’s what makes us different from any other brand specializing in chicken in the United States — our flavor is Pollo Campero Fact Boxunmistakable and you can’t get enough of it,” Duran says.

Pollo Campero uses a secret recipe of herbs and spices to season its chicken both inside and out. Its restaurants offer three chicken recipes: traditional hand-breaded, extra crunchy and citrus grilled. All of the company’s side dishes are prepared in a kitchen, and servers bring orders to diners’ tables on real plates and with silverware. 

Since opening its first U.S. location in Los Angeles in 2002, Pollo Campero has sought to satisfy the taste buds of its Latin American customers while reaching out to a new broader base. “We are mainstreaming the brand by making significant marketing investments to stay true to who we are but also deliver on guest drivers,” Duran says. “We want to be positioned as one of the top three chicken brands in the United States.”

New Markets

In addition to being a major attraction for customers, the flavor of Pollo Campero’s chicken is also drawing attention from prospective franchisees. “People have called us about opening locations because they tried us and fell in love with our chicken,” Duran says.

One such franchisee is the owner of what will be Pollo Campero’s first location in Oklahoma City. The location is scheduled to open early next year.

It is not unusual for a Pollo Campero location to have same-store growth sales between 8 to 12 percent year-to-year. “We have 8- to 10-year-old stores that are still growing, because people continue to discover our flavor,” he adds.

There are 75 Pollo Campero locations in the United States, including restaurants in Texas, Nevada, California, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Minnesota, North Carolina, Florida, Arkansas, Louisiana, Georgia, Rhode Island, Louisiana and Illinois. Of those locations, 18 locations are franchises, with the rest being corporately owned.

In addition to the Oklahoma City location, a Pollo Campero franchise location in Nashville is also opening in 2018. The company is currently negotiating franchise agreements in California, Florida, Texas and Arizona. “Growth in the United States is our major target for the future,” Duran says.

Internationally, the company operates in Guatemala, El Salvador, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Spain and Italy. The majority of the company’s restaurants outside of the United States are owned by either the company or a master franchise organization that operates several sites. The company also engages in joint ventures with franchise owners.

Store Support

Pollo Campero seeks experienced franchise operators in the United States who have a passion for its brand, understand the company’s food and culture, and are willing to invest time and money in their business. The company works with multi-unit operators of other brands as well as prospective owners who would operate just one or two units.

The company assists franchisees both before, during and after a new location opens. This includes assisting owners and real estate brokers with finding an ideal store location. Once a location is found, Pollo Campero works to analyze that site’s sales potential based on factors including demographics and customer mobility. This research is provided to prospective franchisees.

After approving a new location, Pollo Campero’s franchising team – which, in addition to Duran, includes franchising consultants Milind Meshram and Jose Loza – will provide site design assistance.

New franchise training of franchisees and store managers begins three months before a new location opens. Full staff training occurs a week before opening and includes sessions covering the company’s history, procedures and cultures, Loza notes.

Loza and Meshram offer troubleshooting and support to franchisees both over the phone as well as in person. “We offer a very extensive support program that is comparable to other franchises,” Meshram says.

Future Growth

In addition to its recently opened franchises and new franchise agreements, the company added to its corporate holdings in October, when it acquired 13 franchise locations in California. The locations’ former owners were retiring after 15 years of successful operations there.

Ultimately, Pollo Campero is targeting 500 stores across the country, with at least 65 percent of those being franchisee owned.

“We want to open eight to 10 corporate locations a year in the United States while also making a huge effort to promote our franchise business,” Duran says.


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