Latin America Trade Mission: Transporting brands to Costa Rica
Escalators at the Lincoln Mall in San Jose, Costa Rica, slow to a crawl when no one’s on them and have lots of warnings for riders.
If international expansion’s not for sissies, then international trade missions aren’t for whiners.
The latest trade mission is visiting its second of three countries in Latin America in five days. We flew in Sunday (September 20) and then spent Monday and half a day Tuesday in Costa Rica for one-on-one meetings with prospective investors and touring the commerce areas of San Jose before loading onto a plane at 5:30 p.m. to fly to Guatemala City.
We didn’t visit the resort side of the Costa Rico—except for Anthony Russo and Joe Hroch of Russo’s NY Pizza, who flew in early to take advantage of sightseeing (or as we call it in business, research). They rented a car, prepared to pay the advertised rate of $27 a day. Hroch says the rental agent told them they needed to pay extra for insurance because no one else of the road had it. What should have cost $108 for four days was $297. Although the insurance wasn’t needed, it provided peace of mind, after seeing the number of accidents caused by the seasonal rains, Hroch says.
One of the biggest real estate challenges in San Jose is finding a location with parking. As shop after shop line the road, there’s very little visible parking available. There may be a lot of traffic going by your store, but it won’t do you any good if no one can stop. To help alleviate traffic congestion, Commercial Assistant Emilio Cardoba says the government has instituted a ban on driving your car in the city for one day a week, depending on the last number on your license plate. For instance, if your license number ends in 1 or 2, you can be fined $500 if your car is found in the city on a Monday.
There is a rhyme and reason to the layout of the roads in San Jose, someone told us. The streets either follow the river or go where a donkey, intent on going home, would wander.
Trade mission days are long and usually the representatives are doing their “day job” at the same time. Being a talking head all day to investors may be exhausting, but as they say in franchise sales, “it only takes one really good candidate” and the headaches are forgotten.
Next a look at Guatemala. The full report on the trade mission will be in the November issue of Franchise Times.