MOOYAH, the better burger franchise that offers made-to-order hamburgers using 100-percent fresh American beef, freshly baked buns, hand-cut French fries made from high quality Idaho potatoes, and handcrafted 100-percent ice cream shakes, is leading the way in one of the fastest growing segments of the restaurant industry. The company saw impressive growth in 2011 (73% unit growth), expanding out of its home state of Texas into California, Connecticut, and Tennessee.
Alan Hixon, president of MOOYAH, and brand founders Rich Hicks and Todd Istre are seasoned restaurateurs who have helped launch several popular restaurant chains. Their combined experience is part of what is leading MOOYAH to the forefront of the better burger industry.
Franchise Chatter (FC): Can you tell us about your expansion plans for MOOYAH in 2012?
Alan Hixon (AH): In 2012, MOOYAH plans to nearly double the number of existing units, with new restaurants in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C., with development contracts and agreements in place for more than 300 units.
At MOOYAH, our success hinges on the idea of one. One burger, one French fry, and one shake at a time.
FC: Has the current economic climate affected your franchise growth strategy? What are you doing to adapt?
AH: Not really. We are focused on organic growth, meaning we are looking internally to the franchisees who love our brand and the restaurants they operate, so we often see them coming back to us to develop new areas and add more restaurants to their portfolio. The better burger segment is continuing to expand and provide us with even more opportunities for growth. As we continue to develop more markets, engaging new development agents and franchisees, we are growing the company exponentially.
AH: We feel honored that qualified prospects are finding us and seeking us out. Some of our most recent franchisees have been former business owners, part of a family business outside of the franchising industry, or just looking to own a stake in something that could be their family legacy. They are initially attracted to the growing better burger category and after researching, are excited to talk with us about being a part of a fun, family-friendly, and growing brand.
FC: Are there particular regions of the country where you’d like to sign more franchisees?
AH: We’re currently accepting applications throughout the United States. At MOOYAH Burgers, Fries, and Shakes, we strive for the best burger and fry experience ever – our goal is to ensure we share that experience with Americans everywhere.
FC: How are your franchisees securing the financing they need to fund their new restaurants?
AH: Carefully. Our franchisees are so passionate about MOOYAH that they’re finding multiple ways to finance as needed – this includes personal, SBA, conventional, lines of credit, leverage other current business ventures, and lending. It’s a new world out there and creativity is key.
AH: People are looking for new iterations of the classic American meal. At MOOYAH, we give our guests the option to customize their burger, their way – we offer only the highest quality ingredients to ensure it’s always right from the first bite.
FC: What are you doing to stand out in an industry that is seeing a lot of new players with very similar concepts?
AH: At MOOYAH, we’re in a perpetual state of improvement to ensure we consistently have the best people, the best products, and the best restaurants, period.
We are staying on top of technology innovations to make sure we have the best ordering and processing systems available. In fact, we are currently piloting a kiosk touchscreen ordering system at one of our restaurants.
Additionally, we just unveiled our latest restaurant design and expanded menu. Even though we opened just five years ago, we think it is important to continue to elevate our guest experience and continue to grow and develop as a brand.
Above all else, we stay focused on the quality of everything we bring our guests. Our brand is “real, fresh, and fun,” and that involves every piece of our process including atmosphere, service, food, drinks, and overall product quality.
AH: We’re currently exploring additional (free) burger toppings, like fried onion strings and blue cheese – this is adding to the already millions of ways to build your burger. We’re also testing a number of new milkshake flavors including M&M, cookie dough, and coffee.
FC: What kind of infrastructure do you have in place to support the development and growth of your franchise?
AH: Each franchisee will work with a personal Construction Project Manager for hands-on assistance during the building process. They will also be assigned a Franchise Business Coach to support them, offering solutions and training for all their business needs.
FC: What advice can you give someone who is interested in investing in a better burger franchise?
AH: Do your homework.