Similar to what it planned back in 2020, Mici’s target markets for franchising are Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, Idaho, and Missouri. Schiffer says advertising efforts will be focused on those core areas, but the chain has received interest outside of those regions, although the CEO is unable to share exact details. He does note that depending on the operator and what the team looks like, Mici is open to working beyond those designated states.
Schiffer says each ensuing franchise agreement will be specific to the operator’s capabilities, meaning deals will not always be as large as 30 units. The brand felt comfortable selling the entire Phoenix market to Doty and Farnham because of their experience, capital, resources, and familiarity with the chain. Mici has a number of deals in the works right now that cover smaller territories in the range of three to 10 units.
The CEO describes Phoenix as one of the fastest-growing markets in the country, providing the concept with plenty of white space. Additionally, he says Mici is not really geared toward an urban core, but more so bedroom communities and suburbia, which fits with the layout of Phoenix.
“When we talk about 30 locations, we think that there are basically 30 neighborhoods in Phoenix that we would be successful in, outside of the urban core,” Schiffer says. “So that's a big piece for us in terms of why we like Phoenix. And then the final thing is, there is an advantage of growing in proximity to Denver with our first group, just because we will be visiting them very often to make sure that they're supported as they open."
Mici has prepared for this moment by treating its recent corporate locations in the past two to three years as franchise openings. An operations manual was created three years ago, and in November 2020, the chain brought on training manager Raquel Hampton, who helped open nearly 60 Smashburger restaurants in the U.S., Canada, and London. Additionally, Joe Melton, head of operations, has been with the company since 2018 and has more than two decades of experience with Outback parent Bloomin’ Brands.
Vice President of Operations Michael Miceli, who’s worked in Mici’s restaurants for 17 years and “knows the brand backwards and forwards,” will be in charge of new franchise openings. Vice President of Brand Strategy Kim Miceli will oversee the assimilation of Mici's identity in upcoming new markets, and then there's Stanton, who previously served as chief development officer of WellBiz Brands, a parent of health and wellness franchisees.
“Really a lot of it is the process, but also just having the right people in place to support those franchisees so that they're not opening on an island,” Schiffer says. “We want them to have a very easy time opening restaurants and be much more focused on how to operate them once they're open rather than, ‘How do I get this thing open?’ and ‘How do I get trained?’ We just want them to focus on their team and their guests—that is our goal.”