It all began 32 years ago when Javier Gomez landed his first job with the Checkers and Rally’s food chain, working in Los Angeles as a shift manager. From there, Gomez has worked his way to the top, and this year he was awarded with a Franchisee of the Year award for his outstanding leadership as a franchisee with the company.
Gomez now owns 12 stores throughout the Central Valley in Fresno, Hanford, Madera, Clovis, Porterville and Selma, but isn’t stopping there. Plans are in the works for additional stores to open in the area.
“We are very excited because right now Checkers and Rally’s are really in a high demand of expansion,” said Gomez. “There is a lot of inquiries from different investors who want to come and develop here in California. A lot of them would like to develop right here in the Valley, from Sacramento down to Bakersfield.”
Checkers and Rally’s Director of Franchise Development Robert Bhagwandat dived deeper into the expansion planned for Tulare County.
“For the Tulare County area, our efforts have been around targeting between two and three stores, more specifically around the Porterville and Tulare areas, where the majority of the population around these areas tend to gravitate towards, as they are the retail central hubs for the county,” said Bhagwandat. “Our Franchisee, Javier Gomez, has been watching this market for the right opportunity for real estate, and would also welcome a new franchisee to help support our growth efforts.
“During my almost 5 years with the company, I have seen the franchise candidate pool of new approved franchisees grow from 20 a year to over 40 a year. Our strongest year since I have been here was 60 new franchisees in 2016. In regards to new restaurants opening, we were opening maybe 15 to 20 restaurants a year, and we are now pacing close to 50 new restaurants a year, with a pipeline for new store increase from an average of 50 locations to more than 100 a year now. A big factor to the change and increases are focused around the companies appeal to developing franchisees who are looking to develop multiple units and not be locked into an area where they can only build one new unit. We have a lot of room to grow and we are much more cost effective to develop a new store vs. our competition.”
Bhagwandat also touched on how the growth of the Rally’s franchise will boost the local economy.
“From our perspective, each restaurant that is in operation usually generates between 25 and 30 new employees, so it is an opportunity to offer individuals employment in a fun and fast paced environment that is ever changing,” said Bhagwandat. “Also, the business helps the city in generating tax revenue which can be reinvested back into the community, along with having a great, fun and awesome place for customers to come and enjoy some of the best fries, burgers and many other items from our menu that they may not have the opportunity to try.”
Gomez’s face lit up in a smile as he began to talk about experiences he has had with customers while he was out and about. He said he likes to take every opportunity he can to listen to customer experiences, and to also let everyone know Rally’s sells more than just their famous fries.
“I constantly have to remind people that we sell burgers too,” said Gomez with a laugh. “Not just our fries, but it is a nice feeling going out there and being recognized for our fries.”
When it comes to new franchisees, Gomez is more than happy to share his tips for success to prospective Checkers and Rally’s franchisees.
“I want to make sure that when they come here and open their first Checkers or Rally’s that they’re set up for success. I think the Central Valley has really adapted to Rally’s and they love us. We can’t wait to open up more locations to give (customers) more opportunities and more convenience for them.”
But success didn’t just come his way overnight. Gomez has worked towards this for decades, but refuses to take all of the credit for himself. Instead, he shares the spotlight with his team, especially his general and district managers. He referred to his two district managers as “go getters.”
“I don’t want to take the credit myself,” said Gomez. “The credit needs to be given to my managers, my general managers. Part of it is the longevity of my managers. I have managers that have been working for me for over twenty years.”
Gomez says he has seen some of his crew members’ children come work for the company, and it puts a smile on his face knowing he has second generation employees.
“If you’re a parent, and you’re bringing your kids to work for the company, something must be good,” said Gomez.
Gomez earned the Franchisee of the Year award by being ranked the highest over other Checkers and Rally’s franchisees. Corporate for Checkers and Rally’s uses a score card measuring different categories, such as speed of service, shopper surveys, quality of food and sales increases, in order to figure out the year’s top franchisee.
“They take numerous metrics to measure your success and among the other franchisees your on a scale and that is how they select their Franchisee of the Year,” said Gomez.
Gomez stressed the importance of his team, and expressed his gratitude for his managers, saying this award is for them, and not solely for him.
“I will emphasize that this award was given to me, but it was earned by my managers,” said Gomez. “It is a privilege to bring this award from Orlando back to Fresno and give it to them. They were the ones who worked for it. It was my direction, but it was their action that gave me the award. They are a great body of people I have now. They are very fun to work with.”