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Episode #44

MAX is a family-owned restaurant chain with more than 170 locations, consistently ranked as the favorite burger chain in Sweden. We talked with CEO and owner Richard Bergfors about the secret to their success, competing with giants like McDonald’s and Burger King, international expansion, failures and challenges, market trends, and a lot more.

3 takeaways from the conversation with Richard Bergfors

1. The importance of passion

Richard is a testament to how intrinsic passion can profoundly influence a company’s success. From an early age, being involved in the family business, Richard’s enthusiasm for burgers wasn’t just a preference; it became the cornerstone of MAX’s brand identity. His detailed recounting of tasting burgers globally and integrating these experiences into MAX underlines how a leader’s genuine zeal can resonate throughout the company, inspire innovation, and cultivate a loyal customer base.

2. Thinking long-term

A striking aspect of Richard’s leadership and approach is the long-term perspective inherent in family-owned businesses like MAX. This approach allows for prioritizing enduring success over quarterly targets, ensuring decisions that align with the company’s core values and legacy aspirations. Thinking long-term has allowed MAX to make bold bets ahead of its time, and keep a strict focus on quality.

3. Navigating a changing industry

Richard discussed the changing trends in the industry, focusing on the increasing popularity of higher-quality burgers and a move towards more sustainable eating habits. His comments highlight how crucial it is for businesses to be aware of and react to these changes in market trends and customer preferences. MAX has shown flexibility in adapting its menu to include more vegetarian options and in refining its strategies during times of industry consolidation, emphasizing the value of being agile and responsive in the fast-paced market of today. This approach is key for any business aiming to stay relevant and succeed in a constantly evolving environment.

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Watch episode: Saving the world from McDonald’s with MAX CEO Richard Bergfors

Podcast transcript

[00:00:53] Josua: The first MUX was opened in 1968 in Gällivare, northern Sweden. It was not called MUX, but that was the first restaurant that [00:01:00] your parents opened. What are your first memories of MUX and the burger chain?

[00:01:08] Richard: That way it was of course I’m I was born later. I was born in 1975 and my parents started 1968.

[00:01:17] Richard: So some years. Later I was born and it was probably and I was born in Luleå, not Gällivare. And, but by that time my parents had opened the Max and changed the name to Max in Luleå. So it was probably the first restaurant in Luleå where I first, tasted my first pizza.

[00:01:37] Richard: Max burgers I would like to say that I remember it, but I can’t really I don’t remember so much from these early years, like when you were two or three years old but but I, I’ve been eating burgers ever since and working in the restaurant industry since I was like 10 years old.

[00:01:55] Josua: But by the time you were growing up, Max was already a chain. And establishing [00:02:00] multiple locations, was it always. Was it clear to you that you were going to join the restaurant industry and join the family business? Or did you have other plans?

[00:02:10] Richard: It was not clear that I would join Max I would say of course I started working.

[00:02:16] Richard: We, by that that time we also had hotels and nightclubs and more traditional restaurants like steak houses and French gourmet restaurants. So I started to work in the restaurants industry well. Very early, like when I was 11 years or 10 years But and I really enjoyed it. So yeah, it was quite early on I figured out that I probably wanted to be in the hospitality industry doing something but it was never like my goal to become the president of max or anything like that.

[00:02:53] Richard: I just kept on working during my years in school and Thing led to another and I thought it [00:03:00] was really fun the whole time. And yeah, when I was like 26 or something like that I become, became the president of the company.

[00:03:11] Josua: That was pretty young and the company was quite big already at that point, right?

[00:03:15] Richard: Yeah, much smaller than it’s today but still it was a decent sized company and yeah, I was young but, by that time I had already worked many years indeed. So I knew the restaurant industry quite well. And obviously the my father and the board believed in me and that made me president.

[00:03:36] Richard: But at that time I never imagined that I would be president for the restaurant industry. Like I’ve been now for 21, 22 years. I thought that, okay, I will do this for five years and then I will do something else but I, it’s been, a fun ride and there’s very few days that I’m bored.

[00:03:55] Richard: And I said that as long as I have fun doing what what [00:04:00] I do and that I can, that I feel that I contribute to the company’s success, I will continue to do it. One

[00:04:07] Josua: of the things that’s striking about you is that you really love burgers. You have a Instagram account called burger spotting, which is exactly what it sounds like.

[00:04:16] Josua: You have 2000 posts of you traveling around the world eating burgers. And I think it says something here, burgers are your passion, hobby, job, and life. Yeah. End. And is it true that you eat burgers every single day? Is that still something

[00:04:31] Richard: that you do? Yeah yeah I eat, of course, there’s might be one or two days there when I don’t have a burger, but then I can have 10 the next day.

[00:04:42] Richard: So if I if I do I easily eat more than 400 burgers a year probably close to a thousand. So yeah so most of the days I eat burgers and a lot of days I eat lots of burgers. So when I go [00:05:00] on my burger tours, for instance I that like last year we went to LA.

[00:05:05] Richard: We were there for 72 hours and we ate something like close to 300 products. Yeah. So that’s a lot, but that

[00:05:15] Josua: is a lot. Do you think that this kind of genuine passion that you have is also impacts the company and how the employees think about their job in the do you think it has, do you think it shows in the DNA of the company and then, you Eventually in the experience that customers have this true passion for food and

[00:05:35] Richard: burgers.

[00:05:35] Richard: Yeah. I’m quite sure it does. And I think that’s probably one of our biggest strengths versus our competitors that and it started like with my mother and father who had a genuine passion for food and have always had. And have no, zipper down to me and my [00:06:00] siblings.

[00:06:00] Richard: So it’s not fake. It’s like burgers are our number one meal. We love it. And And we love food in general. And so we put a lot of focus on, on, on the food and the product development of new products and always try to aim as high as possible. And and that’s why the GF loves us.

[00:06:23] Richard: And. And prefer us versus our main competitors, which is McDonald’s and Burger King. But also I think the passion shows in the DNA of the company and the staff get inspired by it. And hopefully they can feel it too. And and really, give that little extra effort making the best product.

[00:06:45] Josua: Totally. I just have to ask because you traveled and spent so much time going to all around the world eating the best burgers. Is there any specific place that you go to where you think they have the best burgers? I know that Miami is one where [00:07:00] you’ve had a few of your favorite spots.

[00:07:04] Richard: I would say I would say it’s a, quite an even battle between the New York and California.

[00:07:12] Richard: Both have the. Both have a lot of good burgers. They are a little bit different, like New York is more conservative, have more of a pub style old school burger scene which I like. And California is a little bit more progressive, have more thinner burger, more smash burger if you like.

[00:07:35] Richard: And I love any type of burgers. It doesn’t matter if it’s pick or pin. I think it’s like different dishes and and sometimes I won’t Big, meaty, perfectly cooked burger that, that’s really juicy. And sometimes I want a thin patty that, that have caramelized surface and lots of stuff on it.

[00:07:57] Richard: So yeah I, it’s hard [00:08:00] to choose but if you go to New York or go to LA, you are sure to have some great burgers.

[00:08:07] Josua: For sure. And like you said, this passion is evident. And the customers are noticing it. You’ve been voted consistently the most popular burger chain of the national chains in Sweden, obviously, as you mentioned, you’re not, you’re facing some pretty stiff competition from companies that are pretty, pretty successful and they know what they’re doing.

[00:08:26] Josua: What do you think that secret is? Because the secret to that kind of continued success and high quality, because it’s one thing to make, let’s say you have a restaurant in California and you’re serving a hundred burgers a day, and you’re that’s one thing, right? You could put a lot of focus, you can grind meat yourself.

[00:08:41] Josua: You can bake the buns if you want, but you are serving millions of burgers at, with thousands of employees. So how are you able to maintain such a high level of consistency? Even as you’re growing a lot across, not just in Sweden, but also. Globally or

[00:08:56] Richard: internationally. Yeah. And that’s of course the hard part [00:09:00] because it’s, I always say that it’s quite easy or at least for me it would be easy to open the best burger joint in the world.

[00:09:10] Richard: Because I don’t know if there’s anyone alive that have eaten more burgers than me so I know how to do it. But, it’s a huge difference between opening one place that serves, yeah, like a hundred customers or 200 customers. And the waiting time is long and the price is high and so on.

[00:09:31] Richard: And you are there yourself or just with your most trusted employees. And it’s quite easy but it’s difficult to open number two and number three, and if you open number 20, it will be. And most people fail because they don’t realize that, just because you are a good chef or like food or is a good restauranteur it doesn’t mean that you are good at running a restaurant.

[00:09:57] Richard: a chain or a big company with [00:10:00] several locations. So there’s where most people, they cannot handle that transition because it’s a different mindset. You have to, of course, be super focused on details and trying to strive making, the best possible products but you have to have into account, several other factors like, okay, I’m going to serve 2000 customers a day.

[00:10:24] Richard: With this type of staff and so on. So you have to, find a balance between qualities, taste speed price value for money. And appealness to to appeal to a broad audience. And that’s really the trick and so one is of course to have, figure out the right concept which tops all these different categories or at least comes high enough.

[00:10:52] Richard: You haven’t, you don’t have to be best at everything, but you might have to be best at some of the parameters, but good [00:11:00] enough. And then of course you have to have systems to, to follow up. Systems to educate the staff to follow up and, that’s the boring part.

[00:11:09] Richard: It never ends. It’s the same every day. And you have to, just be focused on and measure a lot of different stuff. And and really try to every day make it a little bit better, a little bit better. But, I guess we, we will never be done. It’s constant battle, I would say.

[00:11:28] Richard: Do

[00:11:30] Josua: you think you have a competitive advantage against your large international competitors? In that being, it’s a family run business, you’re close to the market, close to the customers, and you’re consistently trying to make things better. There’s, it’s fueled by that passion and that desire to always keep pushing and for perfection.

[00:11:51] Josua: Do you think that translates into a competitive advantage?

[00:11:54] Richard: Yeah. Yeah, I do. I think that’s probably the biggest competitive advantages for us because just [00:12:00] answer to ourselves. We can have a much longer term in, in, in longer perspective in our decision making we can be faster as well because we don’t have to check with, I don’t know, Chicago or Miami or.

[00:12:15] Richard: Somewhere else or the stock market. We are privately owned. So we do what we feel it’s right and it’s you know Sometimes it’s based on science, but a lot of times it’s just based on a hunch or gut feeling because we’ve been doing this for such a long time. And most of the times we are right, not always, of course, but as we say we always try to be a little bit better.

[00:12:40] Richard: And if we do something wrong, That’s not the end of the day, it’s just to, step back and fix it and then, do it right next time. Totally.

[00:12:49] Josua: Is there any what kind of role does the gut feeling play? Cause you’ve, like you said, you probably even wore burgers than anyone alive and all around the world, the best burgers.

[00:12:59] Josua: [00:13:00] So do you take that kind of like inspiration that you get from your travels and try to implement it? In, in, in MUX, or is it a matter of doing customer surveys? How are you trying to get that input? On which you make your decisions, whether it’s about menu or other changes inside the

[00:13:16] Richard: restaurants.

[00:13:16] Richard: It’s both, but a lot of our products or ideas has come from our travel traveling. So we get a lot of ideas and inspiration and see something and, it might not be that we. launch that exact thing, that could lead to an idea or an inspiration that we found, find our own twist on it.

[00:13:41] Richard: So I would say maybe 50 percent of our products or innovation comes from. from just me but I do a lot of travel but I have our chef team that travels with me and travels alone sometimes. My brother and my father used to do it as well. A lot of [00:14:00] inspiration comes from that.

[00:14:01] Richard: And the other fifty percent I would say It comes from, either customers or staff that that comes up with some idea or figure out a new way of making something easier or something like that.

[00:14:15] Josua: Got it. Mox has been at last, at least recently, you’ve had a lot of successes.

[00:14:21] Josua: Last year was a record breaking year. First year of over 5 billion. Swedish krona in revenue, that’s about half a billion, sorry, half, yeah, half a billion euros and did it with, solid growth, double digit growth, solid profitability. And I think this year or in the next coming years, you’re looking to maybe take the number one spot in Sweden as the biggest, Burger change?

[00:14:44] Josua: Is that

[00:14:45] Richard: Yeah. I don’t think we will do it this year, but hopefully in, in the, not too far down the road in a couple of years. I would say that because we are getting closer to them and we are continue to grow opening new [00:15:00] restaurants and also growing out existing ones.

[00:15:03] Richard: And they are basically closing down or ha have at least done. The last five years. We are gaining market shares and they are losing market shares. So we are getting closer but I think it. Probably like three years down the line. That has really never been a goal for us to be bigger than McDonald’s.

[00:15:24] Richard: It just, happens to be, so hopefully it will be so because we are growing and they are not, but in the global perspective, we are still, a tiny player compared to, to the giant McDonald’s. So they will always be the biggest.

[00:15:40] Josua: Yeah, for sure. And just to put that in context, I’ve found some stats that said that in 2016, McDonald’s in Sweden was almost twice as large in terms of net sales.

[00:15:49] Josua: So there’s been quite a shift in the last couple of years.

[00:15:52] Richard: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Because we are, growing gaining popularity and also opening new restaurants that they [00:16:00] are, somehow rather closing restaurants than opening new ones. So it’s It’s a shift and it’s been ongoing for yeah as long as I’ve been president actually.

[00:16:10] Richard: So we are slowly but surely gaining on that in Sweden. And then of course in, in Poland, we are. They have 600 restaurants and we have not even 30. There’s a long way to go there.

[00:16:26] Josua: There’s some work to be done. Let’s talk about that internationalization strategy because internationalization in and of itself is very difficult.

[00:16:34] Josua: Like you created MUX as a, it was born in Sweden. It you grew alongside, I guess the whole Swedish food category was growing and the burger category was growing and, People’s preferences were changing and you were helping drive that market, but then you’re in Poland. You’re also in Egypt and, especially maybe Egypt feels like a completely different market.

[00:16:55] Josua: On the face of it, it seems very strange that why are they eating Swedish burgers in [00:17:00] Egypt? So can you talk about a little bit about the decisions to to go into those different markets and how you’ve been able to establish yourselves and be successful in. In, in, in these different

[00:17:10] Richard: countries.

[00:17:11] Richard: Yeah. Egypt or Middle East is a little bit different because like in Sweden, Norway and Denmark and also Poland we run and operate we own the business ourself in Egypt it’s a franchise market. So it’s a master franchise that owns and run the restaurants there.

[00:17:30] Richard: And so it was more of a random thing, actually that these family, Egypt family they were in the food business and they reached out to us. They, somehow they got in contact with max and like the brand that liked the products, and I wanted to open in in, in Egypt. And I I think I said no for the, last two or three times they asked, but then obviously I was in a good mood one day and I said, why not?

[00:17:58] Richard: Let’s do it. Let’s [00:18:00] try might be a fun and a venture and the Middle East market is big but yeah it was more of a trial and error type of thing versus Norway, Denmark and Poland, which has been, in the plans for Much a longer time and of course are closer to Sweden, both geographically, but also culturally.

[00:18:20] Richard: And so those makes more sense, especially, Norway and Denmark, which is neighboring countries, but Poland we went into because of, the potential on the market that, that it’s bigger than the whole of Scandinavia combined. So 40 million people. And it’s basically just McDonald’s there.

[00:18:39] Richard: So we see a gap in a market and a market that we really can grow hundreds of units and do it for many years. So that’s the reason or that.

[00:18:51] Josua: Yeah. It seems to make a lot of business sense is have you had to make any major changes? In your messaging or your menu as you’ve [00:19:00] gone to Poland, for instance, or is it pretty much like copying what works in Sweden?

[00:19:04] Josua: Yeah,

[00:19:04] Richard: pretty much the same, a little bit slimmer menu that we don’t have all the product. We have a very wide menu in Sweden and it has a lot to do with our heritage that, we’ve been in the business for 55 years And there’s a lot of products that are old, but they are still, favorites among a lot of our customers.

[00:19:26] Richard: So they get really upset if we, remove them versus when you enter a new market, you don’t have that heritage. So you can, slim the menu and just, bring more or less the top sellers. So that what it is, more or less, the only difference. So else, the taste and the look and feel of the restaurants are very similar to, to the Swedish ones.

[00:19:50] Josua: Got it. Just on a kind of personal emotional level, what does it feel like to see, let’s say, a Mac’s restaurant in Egypt and see an Egyptian family go and enjoy those burgers? [00:20:00] Knowing how it all started in working there for so long and seeing that being through this whole journey, does it feel a bit like surreal to, to think that,

[00:20:07] Richard: yeah, it surely does.

[00:20:10] Richard: And the, that, that’s the, one of the things I enjoy most about my work is to, when you open a new restaurant, anywhere but especially outside Sweden, I would say about, But also in Sweden when you open the restaurant and you see all the customers coming and enjoying the food, you chat with them and they get positive feedback, hopefully and you talk to the staff.

[00:20:36] Richard: And that, that’s what I enjoy the most about my work. Because often, people think that it’s just to open a restaurant, but I might have been working with, a single location for 10 years. When I started to work with it and then 10 years after there’s a restaurant on the site.

[00:20:55] Richard: So it could take, many years and fall. Often it’s quicker, but it’s still at least [00:21:00] two years. So you’ve been living with the project for such a long time. So it’s Christmas day when we finally opened and the customers are coming in. And if it’s a big success that there’s thousands and thousands of customers.

[00:21:14] Richard: It’s even great to join.

[00:21:16] Josua: Yeah, I get totally understand that. So we talked about some of the successes that you’ve had. What about some failures or difficult moments? Is there anything that stands out from your, decades experience?

[00:21:28] Richard: Yeah we were, before we were in Egypt, we were actually in Dubai or United Arab Emirates.

[00:21:35] Richard: Also with Franchise solution with a Indian family that had other businesses in the region, but they really didn’t have any experience in the food industry, but they were very big in retail and so on. So we went along and often A number of restaurants, I think 10 or maybe was even 12.

[00:21:58] Richard: It really didn’t [00:22:00] work at the end because it was, they, the competition was hard but also I would say the biggest mistake was that they. In my opinion, they were, not the right franchisees. They didn’t understand the restaurant business and the fast food business, and they didn’t have the same type of focus on quality as we do.

[00:22:26] Richard: Yeah, so it ended up that they closed all the restaurants so there’s no more there. But we put a lot of time and effort trying to help them. But we didn’t lose so much money but but it was, emotionally it was like a set down.

[00:22:42] Josua: Yeah, totally. I’m guessing like the quality it’s one of the thing that’s most difficult when it comes to expanding just the chain in general, but especially internationally, it’s like, how do you get someone who’s that committed to quality as you are?

[00:22:55] Josua: Yeah. Is it

[00:22:56] Richard: about systems? Yeah. Systems and right [00:23:00] partners and checkups and stuff like that. But also of course, finding. The right suppliers because you cannot or you can, but it will be very expensive if you, and that doesn’t make sense or through a sustainable approach to send everything from Sweden, for instance, all across the world.

[00:23:18] Richard: So you have to find local suppliers that. Are as committed to to quality as as yourself. So that, that’s quite difficult and it takes a lot of time.

[00:23:29] Josua: I’d be interested to get your perspective on some of the trends in the market, because I feel like it’s changed a lot in the last 10 year, for instance, I pretty much 10 year, we’ve had this better burger trend.

[00:23:41] Josua: Going in Europe, in the U S you had, the likes of five guys and Shake Shack in Sweden, in Stockholm, there’s a bunch of restaurants. I think the big, the biggest new better burger chain in Sweden is Baster Burger, they’re also in other countries. So are you, have you seen that change?

[00:23:58] Josua: Is there a growing demand for. [00:24:00] Burgers that are a little bit pricier, but in terms of ingredients are a little bit higher quality. And how are you thinking about your place in the market?

[00:24:08] Richard: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, it has definitely been a trial like that where people, demand higher quality, better taste and are.

[00:24:18] Richard: Prepared to pay a bit more and wait a bit longer. So that’s been going on for the last 10 years. And it’s exploded. There are so many everywhere. It’s like almost at least in the big cities, it’s like in every corner. And that has actually joined us because we are the better quality premium burger in the fast food segment, which is the mass market.

[00:24:43] Richard: Because most of these, but the burger. They serve 200 customers a day. We serve 2000. So it’s a different market, a different location. So they really don’t affect us, but we get the spillover because people demand high [00:25:00] quality and better taste, the better ingredients. And they, then they choose us versus McDonald’s and Burger King.

[00:25:06] Richard: So we have actually, Being helped by the trend, even if the competition is greater than ever, but there are not really our competitors. But at the other end, I think, so I would say it’s never been more popular to eat burgers than there it is now, or it was a year ago.

[00:25:25] Richard: But I think my hunch is that the trend has peaked and there will be fewer of these places in the future. Because it’s over there are too many. None of them or very few of them make money and and people, especially in, in, in the overall economic situation we are in now people, the and with the inflation before the prices has You know, are a bit too high and people, can’t afford to eat as often as they used to.

[00:25:56] Richard: So I think it will be a big, the [00:26:00] trend is going down and a lot of them will probably have to close or been bought by others. So it will be a consolidation phase. In the industry where a couple will probably survive, but the rest will more or less disappear. And this happened before as well.

[00:26:18] Richard: It was the same in the seventies in Sweden, where it was the same in the fast food Segment where they were like 30 or 40 local chains like McDonald’s copies or something. If you and none of them are left, it’s just max. It was the same backed up.

[00:26:35] Josua: Yeah, I guess all industries go through that first, go through those stages eventually.

[00:26:39] Josua: And we’re already like, to your point that we’re already seeing that in, in Sweden, there’s been some bankruptcies and restructurings. Yeah. Things of that nature. Another trend that’s obviously been very talked about in, in, in a long time is the shift towards vegetarian, vegan and white meat product.

[00:26:59] Josua: And that’s [00:27:00] something that, Max, I think you were really ahead of the curve when it came to this. So how did that go about, how did that come about? And is the. Has that kind of has it played out the way you expected it to? What are your thoughts

[00:27:12] Richard: on it? Yeah, it has. I guess first it was my father, he was always very interested in vegetarian and vegan stuff and from, from the 80s.

[00:27:25] Richard: So he’s always tried this. And we tried it many times, in different formats to, to to move away from red meat towards vegetables and stuff. But it was never a big success until 10 years ago or something like that, but when it really, so I think the timing were wrong the previous attempts but we never gave up or Eden never gave up.

[00:27:51] Richard: So you were always pushing. Us to do something. And finally we got it right. And and it was [00:28:00] really one of the biggest success ever. And after that we had redone the menu many times and updated it but it’s still, we are today from, if I look back like 20 years, the, we sold More or less a hundred percent red meat in our restaurants.

[00:28:18] Richard: And today it’s 50 50, more or less. So it’s been a big transformation and in my opinion, it will continue, but it, it moves slower. Now since I would say since the pandemic it, the increases are not as big as they used to be in terms of the alternatives to red meat and, I guess the reason is, the overall insecurity and anxiety in in, in the world with first the pandemic and then the wars and everything, and the inflation, people tend to seek comfort and [00:29:00] more, more like what they used to eat back in the days.

[00:29:03] Richard: They are not as adventurous. They are less likely to gamble and try new things, but it will probably be like this for a couple of years but I’m sure that the long term trend will, with with substitutes of red meat it can be red meat as well that’s done in a lab or something, but it will just continue and will accelerate again.

[00:29:28] Josua: I think it’s pretty remarkable that you’re already at the kind of 50 50. I’m guessing that’s a lot higher than some of your competitors and Azure’s. A result of that can longterm investment that you made as a company. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:29:43] Richard: Yeah. I would say that we are one of, at least probably the chain that have gone the furthest coming from beef today, there are some small chains that only serve vegan food in the States and in Europe [00:30:00] as well.

[00:30:00] Richard: How about that? They started like that we started as a beef company and have transfer transformed. So I would say that probably word unique and something we really believe in. Not only, in terms of sustainability it’s major shift which reduces our climate impact, which we feel is super important.

[00:30:23] Richard: But we also, believe that it is the future. It’s good for business in the long run because people have to eat food with a lower climate impact. The food industry is about 30 percent of the total emissions globally, and yeah, it’s impossible to continue as we do. So these so I think we are, fairly good position for the future.

[00:30:50] Richard: But we are not done either. We are constantly challenging ourself.

[00:30:56] Josua: Yeah. Okay. Richard, I just have a couple of kind of rapid [00:31:00] fire questions here for you at the end. Number one, when you go to Macs, what do you order?

[00:31:06] Richard: Oof that’s that’s I order everything, but so I really don’t have, a favorite that I always order.

[00:31:15] Richard: I tend to order like the latest products that we have. Because they, I like to try them lots of times. The they are new, of course. But. I would say it I probably have two go to classic one, one is like a a plain cheeseburger with the original dressing and onions.

[00:31:35] Richard: That, that’s always a go to burger where, which I’ve been eating since I was a kid. And the other one, which has been my favorite for the last year is actually a vegetarian burger, which is made of. Beans which is called the Real Green and I really love this burger.

[00:31:54] Richard: There’s so much taste in it and still using it. Those two I would say is at [00:32:00] least the last year is the ones that I’ve been eating most of.

[00:32:05] Josua: You’ve been working in the restaurant and burger industry for decades now. Is there something that you recently changed your mind about or something that you recently discovered that you didn’t know already before about the kind of industry?

[00:32:18] Richard: Yeah, it’s probably, you learn every day and I’ve been doing it for such a long time. But I would say maybe not recently but what I’ve learned is which I. I think naively I didn’t thought before it’s that it’s much, much harder to, to expand international than you first think it costs much more money and takes much more time.

[00:32:43] Richard: So you have to be super long term and have big patience and a lot of focus. So I would say that, and that’s why even if I don’t think they make the most fantastic burgers I really admire. Like companies like mcdonald’s [00:33:00] that you know all over the world and taste as as shitty everywhere But they are very consistent in quality.

[00:33:08] Richard: So so I really admire them even though my personal vision is to save the world from mcdonald’s but I’m, not doing a super job at that because they are You They are still number one in the world and continue to grow which in a much faster pace than us. They do a good job.

[00:33:30] Josua: To related to that, is there any chain around the world that, you mentioned McDonald’s you admire them for their scale ability to replicate what they have across the world. Is there any chain around the world that you found that you say, Oh, this is what I want max to be like any other chain, except the dollars that you take inspiration from us, maybe, especially when it comes to quality.

[00:33:50] Josua: Yeah.

[00:33:51] Richard: Yeah. I would say two, two chains. One that I always admire, which is in and out in California, which is a family [00:34:00] company. They grow Quite slow, and they have 400 restaurants, which is little in the States, but they are company owned. They own all the restaurants, no franchise and very dedicated to quality.

[00:34:14] Richard: And and basically never changes anything. The, the menu is very slim and they don’t bring in new products and or very rarely at least. So I like them because of their like 100 percent focus on the heritage and and the quality. And they probably got in thousands of offers to sell or do, franchise or whatever, but they have always constantly said no.

[00:34:42] Richard: So that, that’s like an old school Berger chain, which I really like. Good. And In terms of a little bit more progressive chain, I would say they are also old but I would say Chick fil A, which has been probably the most [00:35:00] successful chain in the States the last decade with, average turnover of I think they are like three times bigger than McDonald’s in average turnover per unit.

[00:35:09] Richard: So they have so much people and people love them. And they are also, they tend to change a bit and they are, quite advanced in terms of technology and everything, but the menu is also very simple. And that’s why they can have such high quality and good speed and still with, affordable prices.

[00:35:29] Richard: So that’s that’s really impressive what they have done. Yeah.

[00:35:34] Josua: It’s pretty crazy to have restaurants that are 8 million per unit. That’s really wild. All right. Last question. You had, Mux had a record breaking year last year. Yeah. If for 2024 Is there anything that you’re particularly excited, focused, or worried about?

[00:35:55] Richard: Worried of course the

[00:35:57] Richard: worried about the overall [00:36:00] instability in the world which, affect, of course, humans, but also The industry and it’s quite unpredictable and has been for the last three, four years. So that’s always, hopefully, everything will move towards a better situation but you never know and that could, have major effects.

[00:36:21] Richard: So that’s my worry but but, besides that, I’m fairly optimistic. And. So I look forward to this year and next year as well, which I think, this year will be better than last year and the previous years. So I think we are moving in the right direction.

[00:36:39] Richard: It might not be a. Super year, but I will, I definitely feel it, it moves in the right direction and we can have a a decent year.

[00:36:51] Josua: And as a family owned business, you can afford to take it not take it slow, but you can be patient and it doesn’t matter if not every quarter is exactly the way it’s [00:37:00] supposed to be.

[00:37:00] Josua: It’s a long term

[00:37:01] Richard: investment. Exactly. Exactly. We are in it for the long run.

[00:37:07] Josua: All right, Rikard, thank you so much for joining us and sharing about the kind of past, present and future of MUX. For people who want to follow you, I’m guessing Instagram, Burgerspotting is one channel. Is there any place else that you’re active?

[00:37:21] Richard: No I I try to focus on burger, spotting it. It’s where I connect to people and and I also, give my tips of the best burgers in, in, on the planet.

[00:37:34] Josua: So anyone’s interested in Burger, that’s definitely a go-to account. I’ll link that in the show notes. Like I said, Kar, thank you so much.

[00:37:40] Josua: Wish you and Max all the best for this year and a lot of success.

[00:37:43] Thank you. My pleasure.

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