Jessica Wescott took a non-traditional approach to breaking into the franchising industry. In fact, the career move that led to her current role as MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes’ vice president of development and finance was the result of a friendship formed years before.
Wescott began her career in the wealth management field, where she sat two desks down from MOOYAH’s former CFO. After they both moved on to different companies, they kept in touch. Years after her friend took on a role as MOOYAH’s CFO, a spot became available on his team. So he reached out to Jessica, and offered her a position as a financial analyst.
From that point on, it was clear that Wescott and MOOYAH were a perfect combination. She rose through the ranks of the brand’s financial team, accepting positions as a senior manager, director of finance and most recently her vice president position. But even though Wescott didn’t start her career in franchising, she says she’s always had an underlying understanding of the benefits the business model boasts.
“I’ve always had a strong love of franchising, especially given my background in wealth management. There was a lot of overlap between the two industries, so I’ve been able to see what goes into making the business model work on the corporate level since the beginning of my career. I think those parallels are what made it incredibly easy for me to transition over to the MOOYAH team,” said Wescott. “But now that I’m working within the industry, I have a front row seat to what franchising brings to the table. The passion that our franchisees have creates a culture that’s incredibly difficult to cultivate. That’s ultimately what got me hooked on the industry—we have the ability to help driven entrepreneurs realize their dreams of business ownership.”
In order to support MOOYAH’s franchisees, Wescott’s development and finance teams are constantly working to find new ways to work together with their local partners. Instead of operating as two distinct groups, the brand makes an active effort to consider its operations and projects from a franchisee’s point of view. According to Wescott, that’s an essential part of realizing success not just as an overall brand, but on the local level as well.
“We’re only able to move forward when our franchisees see us as a support system that they can rely on for guidance. That’s what we’re here for as a franchisor—our goal is to ensure that our local owners are seeing success,” said Wescott. “Everything that we do on a daily basis is designed to enhance our concept for our franchisees. At the end of the day, they’re the ones who are taking the MOOYAH brand to the next level by helping us expand our reach.”
To fuel MOOYAH’s growth, Wescott wears dual hats on a daily basis. On the financial side of her role, she reviews requests from franchisees and MOOYAH’s leadership team in addition to analyzing data to ensure that the brand is achieving its desired results. The finance department also ensures that MOOYAH is operating within the limitations of the economic environment, and performing well within its specific better burger segment.
On the development side of her role, on the other hand, Wescott’s day-to-day interactions are more franchisee-facing. Instead of overlooking trends and store information, she talks to local owners about their real estate needs and works with other members of MOOYAH’s corporate team to ensure that the brand is targeting the best markets for expansion. Making sure that the brand’s footprint is in line with its goals for the months and years ahead is another top priority for Wescott, which involves being forward-thinking in all aspects of her work. And in order to stay focused on the future, Wescott relies on the opinions and expertise of existing franchisees.
“The only way that we’re going to be successful in the long run is if we’re building on a solid foundation. And in order to capitalize on that strong momentum, we have to be true partners with our franchisees. Without their feedback and input on the day-to-day operations taking place at MOOYAH restaurants across the country, we would be amiss,” Wescott said.
By continuing to work closely with franchisees on the local level, Wescott is confident that MOOYAH is positioned for long-term growth. Between increasing demand within the better burger segment and the brand’s collaborative approach to finance and development, Wescott says that there are some exciting milestones in MOOYAH’s future.
“Going forward, we’re planning to look at franchise development from a different lens or focus. It comes down to making smarter decisions to better set our franchisees up for success, and realizing our potential in a variety of different markets,” said Wescott. “We’re incredibly excited about what lies ahead for MOOYAH—every member of our team each has their own expertise to offer to the group. Between that dynamic and our close relationship with our franchisees, there’s no reason why we won’t be seeing huge wins in the near future.”