After 43 years with the company, there’s one thing Stan Teschke wants to make very clear: Taco Bill is not affiliated with Taco Bell.
Taco Bill is an all-Aussie creation. It was founded by Bill Chilcote, who hailed from the California/Mexico region, and saw a brilliant opportunity in his new home in Australia. In Australia in the 1960s Mexican food was still largely unheard of, and as the owner of Australia’s only tortilla factory, Bill had free reign in the market. He set up a small diner out the front of his factory on the Gold Coast, and the rest, as they say, was history.
Today, Taco Bill boasts 34 franchises across Australia and is widely credited with starting the Tex-Mex movement. With over four decades in the business, they have managed to absorb a variety of considerable challenges: the introduction of online ordering, the sudden growth of ‘traditional’ Mexican food, dietary trends, and online reviews.
Australian director Stan Teschke has been with the business since the start, and says that it’s been an interesting journey to remain relevant in the increasingly competitive Mexican cuisine market.
“We certainly had to review our offering when a lot of our competition starting coming in with ‘authentic’ Mexican cuisine,” says Stan. “Ours is more Tex-Mex. What those people are doing is great, but it’s not what we’re doing. We did introduce vegan options recently, but we are focused on sticking to what we’re known for.”
It was not long after setting up Taco Bill that Stan spotted an advertisement in a local hospitality magazine for Profitable Hospitality. Expert Ken Burgin was offering advice on running food and drink venues, and for Stan, it was welcome news.
“We heard a couple of people speak, including Ken,” says Stan. “And as the group began to grow, we decided we needed some outside help.”
The growth for Taco Bill was fairly rapid. After breaking the local scene in Brisbane with a restaurant at the famous Breakfast Creek Hotel, they moved on to the iconic beach strip of Bondi, Sydney, then further down the coast to Melbourne. It was a challenge to maintain autonomy across all of the stores, and find the right people to uphold the essential elements of the Taco Bill brand.
“It’s all about setting a strong enough code to make sure you get the right people in,” says Stan. “What you realise after a number of years is that your franchisees will make you or break you.”
Having a resource like Profitable Hospitality therefore proved invaluable when it came to hiring strategies, people management, and creating structures around policies and procedures for Taco Bill.
Another challenge in juggling such a large number of franchises came in the form of quality control. For Stan, that meant giving as much back to the business, as he expected from his staff.
“It’s about ongoing training, and having enough control over your franchisees that you can maintain high standards,” he says.
“And vice versa: your franchisees need to expect high standards from you, too.”
As the hospitality industry in Australia continues to transform, Stan says the greatest change he has witnessed has come in the form of staffing. At Taco Bill, Stan has noticed that his workforce of kitchen hands, wait staff, and chefs have become primarily filled with overseas workers. For him, this meant reviewing his entire training approach to accommodate cultural differences and language barriers.
Again, this was where Profitable Hospitality was about to help. “Profitable Hospitality is a great touchpoint that I can keep coming back to,” says Stan. “Like with my staffing, I can always come back and cherry pick the information that I need.”
Even now, after 43 years with the same business, and 20 years using Profitable Hospitality, Stan still uses it almost weekly to find guidance on running Taco Bill.
“It’s like a hospitality Google!” says Stan. “Every time I have logged on, there’s been something there to point me in the right direction until you get the answer.”
Whether your business has been around for four days, four years, or four decades, you will still always be learning. Remaining flexible and receptive to new ideas will give you the same longevity and staying power as our much loved Aussie favourite, Taco Bill.
If you’re interested in hearing more about Taco Bill’s successful 40 year business journey listen to our podcast with Stan Teschke here.