Julio Mireles by one of his food carts.
By: omunoz
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A SERIAL RESTAURATEUR SHARES HIS SECRETS ON STARTING A FOOD BUSINESS

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Julio Mireles is a Mexican immigrant and the proud owner of a food business called Latino Hot Dogs y Aguas Frescas, based in Houston, Texas.  He is a serial entrepreneur and started working in the food business at his dad’s bakery in Los Angeles when he was a kid. He eventually started his first business in Arizona delivering Mexican snacks to little shops and then sold hot dogs. Today, Julio sells hot dogs and typical Latin American food to several local food carts.

After decades of experience in the food industry, Julio has learned a tremendous amount from both his successes and failures. In an interview with Camino Financial, he shared the secrets in how to create your own food business.

Learn to identify opportunities

During a summer vacation in Houston, Julio discovered there were no products like the ones he offered in Arizona. He saw the opportunity to be one of the first businesses to bring his type of hot dog to Houston. Likewise, the heat in Arizona gave him the idea to create a line of fresh waters.

Acquire new knowledge

Julio holds a degree in Communication Sciences, but he unlocked most of his success by taking classes in accounting. Accounting has allowed him to ensure the business has enough capital and earns enough money to sustain itself. Despite being an upfront investment of his time and money, Julio explains to his fellow entrepreneurs that it ends up saving you a lot of money in the long-run.

Create your own products

One of Julio’s competitive advantages is selling his own brands.  For instance, he leverages his prior experience working at a bakery to make the bread for his hot dogs. The quality of his bread is recognized by his clients and distinguishes him from his competitors.

Not depending on distributors and creating his own brand have allowed Julio to save costs and offer competitive prices to his customers.

Expand your product offering

Another recommendation is to offer new products to your customers. To satisfy the tastes of the diverse group of people that come from Latin America, Julio has started offering different types of hot dogs, including a vegetarian one, as well as offering burritos, tacos, and other specialties. Clients always want to try new things, and to stay in business you have to offer them new and exciting options.

Get permits and register your business

The only way you can start a food business is having the necessary licenses.  For example, Julio had to produce a label detailing the ingredients for his “aguas frescas,” and send samples of the drinks to the Health Department so they could corroborate its quality and issue an authorization to market them. Also, businesses should register their businesses with the United States Internal Revenue space System (IRS) by requesting an Employer Tax Identification Number. Even if you have a small business earning little revenue, you should register it.  That way you will begin to build a good reputation with the authorities.

Keep your place clean

Let’s face it! Who wants to eat in a disgusting place? Hygiene is one of the most important factors when choosing a place to eat. According to Julio, the excellent cleanliness and presentation of his business have brought him lots of customers. Having his carts in order and using good quality equipment and utensils have left a good impression on his clients.

Maintain a good attitude

Your attitude with your clients always has to be the best. It is probably the most difficult part of any business because you have to leave aside your personal problems. Excellent service makes people feel good and incentivizes them to return to your business.

Julio wants to make his business grow. In the future, he hopes to franchise his brand and open a facility to manufacture his products.

If you want to follow Julio’s example, make sure you fully understand the cost of starting your food business.

READ: The Real Cost of Starting a Business

Image courtesy of Julio Mireles

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