Javier Gomez relies on his managers, including Aurora Mena, general manager, who has been with Gomez for more than 20 years. Photo by Edward Smith

published on September 27, 2019 - 3:22 PM
Written by Edward Smith

A nationwide burger chain has recognized a Central Valley owner as franchisee of the year.

Javier Gomez began at Rally’s as a shift supervisor in 1986 in Los Angeles. He climbed the ranks to general manager before moving to the Central Valley as a district manager in 2000, and eventually buying his former boss’ Central Valley stores in 2012.

Rally’s recognized Gomez this week for not only sales growth and speed of service, but for also building a network of self-sufficient employees capable of running his 12 stores from Bakersfield to Los Banos.

“I don’t want to say I’m an absentee owner, because I’m hands-on everyday,” Gomez said. “But I concentrate more on the marketing aspect of the business and let my people run the operation.”

And his employees make up a team he’s come to rely on, with managers tending to stay for the long haul. One has been there for 26 years.

“I concentrate on how I’m going to retain people, how I’m going to keep people in my organization,” Gomez said. “With the workforce that we have now, it’s very difficult to keep people on board with you.”

Rally’s Franchise Development Director Robert Bhagwandat credits Gomez’ position at nearly level in the company to his ability to work with people.

“Being able to go to an owner — not just your boss, but an owner — and say ‘I’m having a challenge here,’ and the owner’s actually wiling to sit down and say ‘this is how I can help you,’ there’s not a lot of businesses that do that today,” Bhagwandat said.

To find the franchisee of the year, the company surveyed 130 franchisees, using metrics such as how fast cars go through the drive-thru, corporate shopper tests and how quickly customer problems are resolved.

Gomez is currently looking at opening another 2-3 stores in the next four years, Bhagwandat said.

Gomez’ experience at all levels will prepare him for the future.

“It’s not a common thing that you see,” Bhagwandat said. “But usually when you see that it does happen, it’s a tremendous effect because they understand many different aspects of the business that others may take for granted.”

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