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Mark King, CEO of Taco Bell, on unlocking the human component of the enterprise

A conversation with the man who oversees the fast food chain with 500 franchises.

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26, 2021

4 min read

The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.

In addition to offering great products and adopting solid systems, most great franchises also have a command of the human side of their business. They understand people – employees, customers, and especially their franchisees.

California-based Taco Bell was founded by Glen Bell more than 70 years ago.

As a longtime franchisee and franchise coach, I went to see Taco Bell's current CEO, Mark King, to learn more about the venerable fast food chain's journey to the top. Here are excerpts from our last conversation.

See also: 2021 Franchise 500 Ranking

What did Taco Bell do in the first place to become such a highly rated franchise?

Our franchise partners are instrumental in how we grow the business together and create unforgettable guest experiences. As a system, we consistently expand the boundaries within the industry in order to be a brand beyond fast food. We deliver profitable growth to our franchisees.

What is Taco Bell doing to foster a strong culture in its franchise community?

Franchisees play an important role in building our culture and we always want them to know that they can come to us with new ideas or challenges and that we are working on a game plan together. The relationship we have with our franchisees enables us to quickly implement new elements into the business and makes Taco Bell a trusted partner.

How would you describe the mindset of your top franchisees?

Our top franchisees are hungry for innovation and new technology. We love their pioneering spirit and it drives so much passion inside. We work with our franchisees in all areas of their business and provide them with the support they need to grow their business.

Fast food restaurants aren't necessarily known for delivering great customer experiences. What does Taco Bell do to get noticed and make customers happy?

We like to think that our brand embodies the spirit of an eternal 25-year-old: always youthful, always fun and always positive. We also know that our team members are our greatest brand ambassadors and always want to make sure they are working in an environment that is in keeping with the spirit of the brand. Additionally, we always listen to consumer insights and offer menu choices that make Taco Bell a destination for fans of all lifestyles.

How did you navigate through the pandemic and what have you done to support franchisees during this time?

Throughout the pandemic, Taco Bell has worked with our franchisees to get key hubs quickly and efficiently. This is real proof of our partnership. Taco Bell communicates with franchise partners through regular internal communications and virtual meetings to exchange updates about the business when the world changes quickly. We work in lockstep with our franchisees at all times to ensure our restaurants are the safest places to work and eat. In addition to our strict procedures, Taco Bell has implemented other security measures for our customers and team members, such as: B. Contactless orders and payments.

What advice do you have for other franchises to help them master the human side of their business?

Building a strong relationship with your franchisees is critical to growing your business. Listen and implement feedback from your franchisees as the business evolves.

Related: How Taco Bell is Becoming the Most Innovative Franchise in the World

Any other final thoughts or comments?

Without our franchise partners, we couldn't be the brand we are today. We are proud of the work we have done together so far and look forward to continuing to work together to build a bright future.

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