Pollo Campero Hatches Strategy to Reach 250 U.S. Locations by 2026
The world’s largest Central American chicken brand looks to dominate the U.S. market with a strategic franchising initiative targeting multi-unit, multi-brand restaurant ownership groups.
The U.S. chicken wars has a formidable contender from abroad. Pollo Campero, the fast-casual chicken franchise with 80 U.S. locations and another 270 around the world, is on the precipice of major U.S. expansion.
After maintaining record U.S. sales throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Pollo Campero has launched a new strategy to reach 250 restaurants across the U.S. over the next five years, making it one of the dominant players in the $38 billion fast food chicken franchise segment. As it embarks on this ambitious expansion effort, the brand is leveraging a proven business model, loyal fanbase and experienced leadership team to attract multi-unit, multi-brand franchisees in markets around the country, starting with Arizona, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.
“The chicken category is booming and shows no signs of slowing down, and Pollo Campero is one of the best opportunities in the category. Our concept is one that prioritizes flavor, quality and authenticity that’s reinforced by a best-in-class support system,” said Fernando Perez, Pollo Campero’s Senior Director of Operations.
This year, Pollo Campero has seen the highest sales in the brand’s 20-year history, and Luis Javier Rodas, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer, says its established business model and enviable brand loyalty ensure the brand will remain a leader in its segment far into the future.
“We’ve worked hard to get where we are. We’ve refined an extremely effective operational model and built one of the compelling brands in the business, and now we are better positioned than perhaps any other brand in our category to continue growing in 2021 and beyond,” Rodas said.
How Pollo Campero Carved Out a Lucrative Space in the Chicken Segment
Pollo Campero began in Guatemala as a family-owned business with a carefully crafted menu and unique chicken recipe. The concept caught on quickly and won a seat on the family table of thousands, weaving itself into the regional cultural and culinary landscape while becoming the world’s largest Latin American chicken chain.
“The first time I visited a Pollo Campero restaurant in the U.S., the line was around the block,” said Rodas. “When I started talking to the people waiting, they said, ‘Pollo Campero is like going home for us.’ There are many folks here from Guatemala and other Latin American countries. So, when you offer a product that this population grew up with, it’s a big deal to them. Our legacy customers spend a lot more money with us than with most other chicken brands.”
Today, after 20 years of successfully building 80+ restaurants in markets throughout the United States, Pollo Campero has gained a huge crossover audience that extends to every demographic.
In 2019, in an article titled “Why You Need to Go to Pollo Campero, the KFC of Latin America,” Thrillist recommended that every American try the brand for themselves, raving about the “juicy, juicy, juicy” meat and the “perfectly spiced and crispy” chicken skin, saying the concept had the potential to “influence the greater culinary landscape in the U.S. to the point where it gets woven into the very fabric of what we call American food.”
“At the heart of what makes Pollo Campero a standout concept in our category is an overlap of flavor and quality that only we can produce given our commitment to our guests and our craft,” says Rodas. “We offer feel-good convenience with a unique variety. Feeling good about feeding your family or group of friends doesn’t have to mean sacrificing flavor,” he said.
Pollo Campero’s fan-favorite menu, combined with the brand’s steadfast commitment to supporting the communities it serves, allows franchisees to tap into unparalleled consumer loyalty, a particularly critical benefit after the COVID-19 pandemic upended the restaurant landscape.
The Benefits of Pollo Campero’s Proven and Scalable Business Model
Over the past few years, Pollo Campero has optimized its business model, innovated the menu and expanded its support infrastructure. This has led to four years of same-store sales increases and a major demand from business-savvy entrepreneurs who are ready to leverage a scalable opportunity.
“We offer a proven business model that, when you look at the growth activity within the existing franchise base, has allowed 90% of our franchisees to scale their operations,” said Perez. “The only reason a franchisee can grow is because the system is working. We are not only selling the brand, we are selling the support system and infrastructure. If you walk into some of our fried chicken competitors at rush hour, you’ll see the back of the house is a mess. Our system is designed to streamline the process during peak hours, and make it more efficient from a production perspective.”
The results speak for themselves. Perez says Pollo Campero’s AUV is top tier, especially for emerging chicken concepts.
Additionally, Perez says Pollo Campero’s support system is unmatched when compared to other restaurant brands of the same size. “Our training program and store-level support is impeccable,” he said. “We can teach you everything about staffing, back of the house and front of the house operations in less than 30 days. We also offer cutting-edge marketing assistance, real estate and site selection and more.”
Now, Perez says Pollo Campero is further expanding this robust infrastructure to ensure franchise owners continue to receive the support they need as the brand grows.
“We have put a dynamic management team into place with several franchise industry veterans who have decades of experience of helping entrepreneurs achieve their dreams,” said Perez. “Overall, our corporate office has around 50 people, which is a very large team for a brand our size. We have the structure in every element of the production process to support growth. The work that we do rivals brands with 500 stores.”
Why The Future is Bright for Pollo Campero
Following the brand’s recent success and its proven ability to withstand even the toughest economic times, Pollo Campero is ramping up strategic franchise development efforts in markets across the country. Now, with an impressive leadership team in place, prospective franchisees are deciding that now is the perfect time to join the Pollo Campero family.
“The brand has a great team in Dallas that runs the U.S. operations and they have an in-depth understanding of the brand and how to communicate with franchisees,” said Richard Summers, a multi-unit franchisee who owns two Pollo Campero locations in Atlanta, along with his wife Mavel. “Now, the brand has aggressive plans to grow its number of stores in general, and we want to be right in the middle of that. Our plan is to open additional units throughout our area and we feel like the Pollo Campero brand is at a turning point and the future is very bright.”
“Given the resilience of our business model and our best-in-class support system, we feel more ready than ever before to transform our restaurants into a franchise-focused system over the next five years, with a growth goal of more than 250 stores across all major U.S. metro markets,” said Rodas.
Rodas says the brand’s growth plan is incredibly dialed in. “Our market plans go beyond demographics and key economic indicators — population growth, consumer spending and market saturation are important, but we’ve evolved our focus to identify the best possible trade areas by leveraging mobility data, consumer psychographics and needs states as well as robust AI-enabled models.,” he said. “We plan to open new restaurants where Pollo Campero is well-positioned to thrive based on demographics and previously successful stores.”
But the Pollo Campero team isn’t willing to grow just for the sake of growing. Rodas says Pollo Campero is highly selective when it comes to who will help the brand expand to new markets.
“We’re not going to be hasty — we’re going to grow in a smart way, keeping true to our vision and our strategy by franchising with the right entrepreneurs,” Rodas said. “In time, there will be 1,000 Pollo Campero locations across the United States.”
Rodas says ideal franchise candidates have multi-unit operational restaurant experience with at least one concept that matches Pollo Campero’s capital investment, as well as the capital to invest in the development of at least three Pollo Campero locations. Prospective candidates should also demonstrate a passion for the Pollo Campero brand and embrace the values it upholds.
“The past few years have been incredible for Pollo Campero, and we’ve been grateful to have the ongoing support of our fans,” said Rodas. “Now, as we move forward with a strategic growth mindset and look to hit 100 units by next year and 250 by the end of 2026, we are eager to bring Pollo Campero to more communities by partnering with qualified franchisees who can build locally owned businesses they can be proud of.”
Initial investments range from $887,250 – $2,126,500*. For more information, visit: https://camperofranchise.com/
*To see the brand’s full reported financials, please reference Pollo Campero’s Franchise Disclosure Document (updated June 7, 2021).
ABOUT POLLO CAMPERO:
Pollo Campero is a fast-casual restaurant chain focused on delighting guests with better-chicken-offerings. Through its flavor and quality, Pollo Campero offers a unique and convenient feel-good eating experience for individual, group/family and catering occasions. Chicken entrees can be ordered either Campero Fried or Citrus-Grilled, bone in or boneless and paired with an array of fresh sides, drinks and desserts for a complete meal. Pollo Campero started as a small family-owned restaurant in Guatemala in 1971, and has grown to one of the biggest chicken chains in the world.