Founded in 2013 by Roger Taylor, Listo Burrito is an independent Mexican burrito group with restaurants in Manchester and Liverpool. The brand is a firm favourite among office workers and students for its quality ingredients, great service and unique award-winning sauces.
Since its relaunch and name change in early January, Listo Burrito, formerly known as “Changos Burrito” has reported bumper sales as diners clamour for the humble Mexican wrap. January sales were up five percent year-on-year with over 15,000 burritos sold during the month.
We were lucky enough to catch-up with Roger who explained more about what makes his business tick.
How long have you been running Listo Burrito and what does your business do?
I opened the first Listo Burrito in Manchester in June 2013 after raising start up finance of £150,000, largely through a government-backed “EFG” scheme.
We are a casual dining, counter led burrito operation, where our customers can order burritos to eat in or to take away.
We put a significant part of our success on being a small independent chain. We care about our customers, value our staff and we promise a fresh product at a fair price.
Our business model is simple. We’ve learnt that it’s key to heavily research each opportunity, control the set up costs of each site and invest in building the brand, whilst support our existing sites.
Last year, we launched our app which has helped us engage with our customers by offering loyalty points, free items and access to discounts and deals. We’re currently approaching 10,000 downloads of our app, which we’re really pleased with.
Who was the inspiration for the business current path you are on?
My father has always been a huge inspiration for me. We had a privileged upbringing due to his hard work and “live life to the max” type attitude. I saw him take risks, some working in his favour, others against him but he always provided for us. Seeing him work for himself, gave me the passion to always work for myself. Little did I ever appreciate how hard he had actually worked when I was growing up.
Also, I’ve always joked that I’m unemployable as I dropped out of university and got little by way of qualifications, so had to work for myself.
What is the one bit of advice you wish you’d been given before you started your business?
It’s definitely not easy. If someone had told me how hard it is to build a business from scratch, I would have had serious doubts whether it was a good idea. The risk involved with borrowing a lot of money only hits home once you’ve spent it all and then realise, it all has to be paid back.
I was always confident in my ability to operate, however, soon learnt there is a lot more to owning a business as opposed to running a business. I was very fortunate that our first location on Oxford Street in Manchester was a hit from day one, although I have still made some mistakes along the way. A big learning curve arrived four years later in opening our Liverpool store; a city where nobody knew who we were and was a case of starting from scratch all over again and establishing a customer base.
The one most important thing you’ve learned during the experience of running your own business?
In my young career, I’ve learnt a lot. To pin it all down on one thing is tough. My biggest errors have been a result of not paying attention to the finest detail. I would say attention to detail and consistency in equal measures are key, especially in the hospitality industry.
You don’t get a second chance. There is too much quality competition to be complacent and to risk losing repeat custom due to a lack of care.
What do you see as your future business challenges?
With Brexit on the horizon, I’ve no doubt we face some challenges in where/how we buy some of our fresh produce such as tomatoes and peppers from European countries, whether it be quantity or pricing issues. The way we grow and manufacture fresh produce will no doubt go through some unrecognisable changes in the next few years.
The high street is having a tough time at the moment. The way people shop is unrecognisable to 10 years ago, with the likes of Amazon operating on an increasing colossal scale.
Fortunately people are always going to need food and affordable food. The delivery platforms serve their purpose but there is no question that visiting the restaurant itself, guarantees the restaurant quality and service. We’ve just got to hope the general public share the same mentality… fresh is best!
What would you like to leave as your business legacy?
My first child was born in 2019, so this has brought a new meaning and purpose to succeeding in my business. I would love one day for him to have the option at least, to take over, however we’ve already had the chat (at ten months old!) that he’s got to start at the bottom, pull some shifts on pot wash and prove himself to be a worthy candidate.
In terms of the wider world, I want younger people to know that if you want something enough, have a good idea and are willing to work at it, then you can do it! It’s not all about grades at school that shape your future.
Your biggest business achievement / success so far?
I still see opening the first store on Oxford Street, Manchester as my biggest achievement. Looking back, it was one hell of a risk, which fortunately has paid off. I’ve said before, I’ve always been an operator, but for other people. Doing it yourself takes you to some deep territory, which isn’t easy, and only the bold will survive.
In 2018, we hit over £1 million in sales, which was a great feeling.
When you are not running your business, what do you do to relax?
I love sport; watching rugby and tennis, or playing golf and squash. I got married July 2018 and my wife and I welcomed a baby boy just 10 months ago. I try to get home to spend as much time as I can with him before he goes down for the night. That’s been a whole new challenge in itself, learning to be a dad, but I love it and fortunately my wife is a natural!
What is your biggest achievement outside of business?
Bagging myself rugby world cup final tickets, down under, in 2003 when Jonny Wilkinson knocked it over. Getting into the “final party” with Prince Harry and all the players and their families, maybe not an achievement as such but something I’ll never forget and certainly a personal highlight.
What would you be doing if you weren’t running your business?
I love being outside. My in-laws are farmers and I’ve had an insight into their lifestyle. They work extremely hard but they play hard also. They have a brilliant support network within the farming community, which sometimes I feel we miss in the hospitality game where we’re all in competition with one another. I joke with my wife that I should have been a farmer (secretly I’d love to).