Trade Mission Moves to Monterrey, Mexico
Belen Gallegos and Manuel "Manny" Velazquez were the organizers of the Monterrey portion of the Franchise Times, IFA, U.S. Commercial Service trade mission.
Monterrey is as different from Mexico City as New York City is from L.A. Graffiti, which was a constant embellishment in the country’s capital, was in short supply in the more modern Monterrey, that aligns itself more with Texas than Mexico.
Residents of Monterrey don’t tell strangers they’re from Mexico, but rather specifically from Monterrey, said Manuel Velazquez, commercial specialist and one of the organizers of the Monterrey portion of October’s franchise trade mission, along with Belen Gallegos. People from Monterrey are referred to as “Royals” by other Mexicans, he added, because of their attitudes—confident and they strive to be No. 1.
Although they may think they’re more like Americans, there is one interesting cultural difference between Monterrey Mexicans and Americans. “When Mexicans get introduced their small talk is about family, where they’re from, their lineage,” Velazquez said. “Americans talk about objects.” As in “I like your shoes.” Or “Where’d you get that necklace?”
A note to franchisors, experts during the briefing said that entrepreneurs in Monterrey want to be directly connected to the U.S. franchisor, not through a Mexican middle man (such as an area developer).
Monterrey is the third largest city in Mexico, with a population of 4.2 million, and the second-largest economy. It enjoys the highest per capita income in Mexico. It’s headquarters to large international companies and is privy to significant foreign investment. It also hosts an abundance of insurance companies. Monterrey drivers are notoriously bad, Gallegos says.
Homes in close proximity dot the hillsides and terrace restaurants have become popular, much to the surprise of the pundits, who said Monterrey was too hot for outdoor dining. A trend is for restaurants to go inside malls, as opposed to stand-alone buildings, we were told. Leases are not as expensive as Mexico City and are in dollars, not pesos.
Shopping centers, both here and in Mexico City, are organized on themes. For instance, one we visited in Mexico City had a health club on the top level, athletic shoe and clothing stores on the second level, a grocery store in the basement level and healthy dining and vitamin stores throughout. Another center included a large wing where a variety of banks took up residence, including a wall of ATMs. Because traffic is so bad, the idea is to allow people to hit one center for several errands.