The source of any team’s success is leveraging the specialized skills and talents of each individual for the betterment of the whole. You see this philosophy with sports franchises that trade and sign key role players to assemble a team with the best shot at a championship.
Restaurant franchises are no different.
As the guiding force for the franchisees who bought into the model, it’s vitally important to have a solid mixture of expertise at the corporate level. Dallas-based better burger franchise, MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes, has been making moves over the last year to invest heavily in this area to drive increased profitability for their growing family of franchisees.
“The way we see it at MOOYAH, we are first and foremost a service company. Our job is to service the franchisee. For us it's a job, for them it's a livelihood. We measure our success by their level of success,” said Samir Wattar, Vice President of Supply Chain for MOOYAH.
That’s the approach Wattar has taken since joining the MOOYAH corporate team in 2013 when the brand was just knocking on the door of 50 open units. Wattar understands the importance of mitigating product costs for franchisees in his role of Vice President of Supply Chain for the growing better burger brand.
“I'm excited about my role because I can impact franchisees from the minute they sign the agreement and continue to impact them by leveraging our purchasing power to get them better prices on the products they're selling. When I'm dealing with a vendor, I expect them to treat me the way we expect our MOOYAH team members to treat our Guests. If you can't do that, then I can take my business somewhere else. It’s an important part of the equation, and I take that responsibility to our franchisees very seriously.”
In the four years since Wattar joined MOOYAH, the company has doubled in size. While working to lock in the best prices for franchisees on supplies, he was also juggling many operational responsibilities too. For that reason, and in order to further enhance support for franchisees, the company added Mike Sebazco as Vice President of Operations in the summer of 2017. Sebazco, a franchising veteran, has made his career honing operations for brands like Don Pablo’s, Boston Pizza, and most recently at Mimi’s Café.
“What attracted me to MOOYAH was that these were very bright, young, ‘get her done’ people. It is contagious,” Sebazco said.
Sebazco’s main focus in the new role will be to drive greater efficiency for franchisees and to ensure MOOYAH is offering the very best product available in the competitive segment. Sebazco will analyze the existing systems and processes in place with a goal of adjusting and improving to benefit franchisees and make them more profitable.
“Now Samir can focus his entire bandwidth on purchasing – but with his experience on the operations side, he knows what operators need and will be negotiating with that in mind. Purchasing is a relationship business and sometimes those aren't 50/50. We need someone who understands the importance of going to bat for our franchise community.”
While relationships are key for purchasing, they also drive the MOOYAH experience. Creating, maintaining and improving relationships also happens to be the specialty of Dennie Laney, an industry veteran who joined the MOOYAH corporate team a little over a year ago as the Vice President of Training and People Development.
Laney brought to MOOYAH a proven track record of enhancing employee engagement, company culture, and engaging leaders with their teams. Since joining the brand, she has been instrumental in helping shape and add clarity to the company’s mission.
Her focus, like the rest of the corporate team, has been on unit level economics.
“One of the things we have done is focus on strengths and then challenging leaders to leverage the strengths of their teams. We have broken down some barriers between our departments and that has helped us leverage the strengths of each other and built a lot of synergy in the restaurant support center,” said Laney.
In just one year, Laney has helped reinforce the culture at MOOYAH and reset expectations to motivate leaders and develop stronger relationships from the corporate team all the way down to front line team members. The power of the stronger systemwide relationships and clarity in leadership helps aid in employee retention and fosters more efficient and profitable operations.
“In the restaurants, the biggest thing we've done on the front lines is to make it very clear to everyone what the #1 thing is that they need to focus on getting right every day in their individual role. Then, we’ve spent time explaining and demonstrating how the entire system works, and how it works best if everyone is helping each other achieve their priority goal as a team.”
The MOOYAH team has substantial goals for the direction and expansion of the brand heading into the end of 2017. On the heels of the company’s 10th anniversary and the announcement of an acquisition of the brand by Gala Capital Partners, LLC with funding from Balmoral Funds LLC., the beefed up corporate team is executing on plans to improve success for existing franchisees while implementing a strategic growth plan to open units in new markets.
Sebazco mirrored the attitude of the entire corporate team in their commitment to those plans.
“There is nothing more compelling than people who have their livelihoods on the line in your brand. The folks at MOOYAH are extremely like-minded in this motivating our efforts. While it's our brand and business, it's their livelihood. I love that pressure.”