Women in Business

Prepster Company

My mother, Martha used to work at the American Consulate in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico in the Visas department. Through her determination and hard work, she earned herself a position in IT.

Her daily routine consisted of waking up at 5:00 am and traveling across the border to be at her job by 7:00 am. She enjoyed her job but earning a salary in pesos and the commute was becoming a burden. She wanted to work in El Paso earning US dollars, but the only way was to do so was to apply for an investor visa.

After hearing success from her older brother, Alberto, she said to herself, "I can open a restaurant too, how hard can it be?" Keep in mind, she's used to wearing business attire, heels, make up and a splash of perfume. She had her hour lunch break, she traveled for seminars, she received bonuses and she attended parties hosted by her bosses. Was she going to leave her great life behind to open a labor-intensive career?

The excitement grew everyday by creating menus, designing logos (eventually it was me), and scouting locations. After calculating her costs, raising capital was an issue. My grandparents lost everything they had, and they were in no position to loan money.

Meanwhile, as my mom was juggling between her job and brainstorming ideas for her restaurant, the American consulate placed her on a project. The consulate needed to upgrade their system, so they hired a company from Albuquerque to do the job.

Daniel was the owner of the company that was going to perform the upgrade. He worked side-by-side with my mom on getting everything done. Daniel not only owned the electrical company, but he spent the majority of his time investing in small businesses and that is how he accumulated his income.

He told Martha he wanted to invest in Texas-based companies, but he didn't know where to start. An opportunity presented itself to Martha. This was her chance to ask Daniel for the loan to open her restaurant, a $25k loan, but she was hesitant, she didn't feel comfortable asking a perfect stranger. After giving it some thought she decided to ask him and he said yes.

Daniel created a simple contract on a piece of paper with the terms and conditions, he gave her four years to pay back the investment at an interest rate of 15%. Martha felt confident she could accomplish this. She assembled her team; she hired an efficient cook that did wonders in the kitchen. He was her great support and the backbone of the business. Come January 1995, Martha opened the doors to her first restaurant.

On her first day she made $100 in sales on her second day she made $40. She basically filled up the three-compartment sink with tears, throwing away food every day. On her second day, she received a phone call from a man telling her why he would spend more money on a burrito when he can get it for less down the street. She was discouraged.

I told her why we don’t pass out some samples, let people try it and if they'll like it, they'll come. At the time, I was 11 years old, and I carried a box of burrito samples. We drove around the vicinity passing out samples, menus, and flyers. Sales increased gradually but at least they increased. Customers would return because they tasted the high quality in the burritos. Yes, it may seem like a regular burrito to people but these burritos were made with fresh made flour tortillas, Grade A meat, no fat whatsoever and no lard used in the cooking. She survived her first and second year, she paid back the investment by the end of her second year. Daniel was impressed, he honestly assumed she wasn't going to make it and yes, he told her that.

By the end of 1998, business was great considering the hidden location. She had a staff of seven employees, me included. Across the street, a regional burger chain closed its doors, it was a double drive thru. Martha thought to herself, "if I don't get that space then someone else is going to get it and put me out of business." Immediately, she inquired about the space and while the rent was going to be a lot more, she still decided to get it.

She approached Daniel again for a loan, but this time around the terms were a lot higher. He wanted to be a partner. She declined his offer. She was disappointed because here is a man who kept his word, he told her she would have an open line of credit and whatever she needed, he would support her 100%. My mother is a bit old-fashion and when a man says he'll keep his word, she expects him to keep his word. Her other option to finance the drive-thru was to max out her credit cards and she did, within a month her credit card balance was over $60,000.

The drive thru opened on January 15, 1999, she split her team into two, one team stayed behind at the original location across the street while the other time was at the drive thru. There were times that the drive thru location would sell out and I would run across the street with pots of braises and stews.

After the second week, the drive thru was doing well, and she needed her entire team there. She decided to close the original spot to the public and keep it as a prep kitchen since the kitchen was triple the size than that of the drive thru. The landlord of the original hub requested she needed to open to the public as stated on the contract. Luckily for him, he lost the contract, and she wasn't going to show her copy so the following day, everything was moved out to the drive thru.

Shortly after that, patrons complained about the seating since the drive thru only had outdoor seating. Unfortunately, she lost those customers but gained new ones who were on-the-go and wanted something fresh and quick.

By summer 1999, the drive thru exceeded expectations. Business was doing well, almost everyone wanted to mimic the same success and open the same concept in other parts of the city. No one had the same passion and enthusiasm as Martha, they were just in it for the money.

After 5 years of owning her restaurant, Martha decided she wanted to do everything on her own. If she wanted to succeed even more, she needs to know all facets of the business which includes administration.

Martha piled on more work for herself but simultaneously, she is learning something new and saving money. One of the things that saved her quite a bit of money was creating employee payroll templates. She would fill in the template with the employee's information, hours worked, pay rate and other personal information. Since 2000, she continues to use the same template for her current businesses. I use the template myself to pay my staff and it's great, but instead of printing out the pay stub, I emailed it to my team.

If anyone wants to know more about how this template can help your business, click on the link here. It's a simple template that helps you save time and money. The template dates back to January 2000! Your staff will thank you for it!

Stay tuned for more business stories and business tools to help you!

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