Mooyah--a 30-unit, fast-casual, better burger, fries, and shakes concept--has laid out an aggressive growth plan for 2012 that includes 20 additional units.
"Fast-casual burgers--often people call it the better-burger segment--represents only about 3 percent of sales in the burger category overall, so we've got a long road ahead to seize the opportunity and gain market share," says Alan Hixon, president of Mooyah Burgers, Fries, & Shakes. "The demand for the segment is just at its beginning stages, even with the number of similar competitors out there. We envision this concept as working anywhere, coast to coast."
To prepare for a 60 percent unit increase this year, Mooyah worked to refine its systems by examining its whole concept and focusing on what's essential to the brand. This included scrutinizing everything from food distributor relationships to restaurant decor, as well as conducting extensive consumer research that revealed whether guests' needs matched what the concept delivered.
"We're in a constant state of improvement," Hixon reports. "We looked at every piece of the brand from food products to advertising and put them through the filter of whether it fit Mooyah."
Hixon discovered that the brand is as much about selling burgers as it is about selling an experience. As a result, the stores' interiors are now updated with multiple flat-screen TVs, a change in music, and booth, stool, and communal seating arrangements in the dining room.
Just as important, the company bolstered its management infrastructure by adding a director of marketing, director of training, purchasing comptroller, and additional franchise business consultants.
"It's our belief that we're poised for success based on the quality of the people we have in every part of the business," says Michael Mabry, director of franchise for Mooyah. "As a company, our culture must be dedicated to the belief that our franchisee is our customer and that if we take care of the franchisee, he'll take care of the store management team. And when that happens, they'll take care of our hourly employees--who are truly the most important people in the mix. Guests don't know me or even management, but they do know the name of the person at the counter who represents the Mooyah brand."
Mooyah franchisees are provided with cutting-edge technology, interactive management training, and a support team in place to assist with marketing and promotions, operations and systems, and real estate selection.
Mooyah executives expect an aggressive expansion in 2012 and point to markets within Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, and Virginia as ripe for expansion.
"We believe this concept can work just about anywhere, but we're very selective about the types of franchisees we welcome into our system," Mabry says. "We're growing carefully and wisely and want to attract quality people who live life with engaging, friendly personalities to match the Mooyah culture."