For more than a decade, MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes has been expanding its footprint in markets across the U.S. But the better-burger concept still has plenty of room for growth, and the franchise is actively seeking new franchise partners for development opportunities in a host of new and existing markets. By carefully selecting where to grow, the franchise’s development team has helped ensure franchisees open in markets ready to embrace the better burger brand.
Being the first franchisee to open in a new market can seem challenging but also comes with unique benefits. We talked to two MOOYAH owners who opened the first restaurants in their states to learn how they and the brand’s corporate team took full advantage of the opportunity.
Along with his brother and father, Josh Bergeson owns two MOOYAH locations in Wisconsin, including the first one in Fitchburg. Loren Katzman is also a multi-unit owner who brought the first MOOYAH restaurant to California in Walnut Creek. We asked Bergeson and Katzman about their experiences introducing the brand to new audiences and what advice they have for other franchisees thinking about opening in new markets.
What are some of the benefits of opening in a new market?
Bergeson: The biggest benefit for me was that most of our guests hadn’t experienced the brand yet, so we could really define the experience. We were able to offer an outstanding experience, which allowed us to set the tone and capture a large customer base.
Katzman: You get to be the first to turn the local community on to a unique brand in their neighborhood. They have no expectations other than they want good food and good service, so when they try MOOYAH, they are blown away. We’re about high-quality, fresh food, customizable burgers and superior attention to customer service, and other brands can’t compete with that.
What are some of the challenges?
Bergeson: The lack of firsthand knowledge about the market can be a challenge. There can be a bit of a learning curve to understanding the labor pool, occupancy cost as it relates to potential sales, and target demographics.
Katzman: A lot of people don’t know who you are yet, so you have to work a bit to get your name out there. You need to reach out to the community and show that you are a new local business that is there to serve them with an excellent experience.
How did MOOYAH’s corporate team help address those challenges?
Bergeson: They helped us through the entire buildout process, walking us through each step. They made sure we had the staff to allow us to open at the high volume that we did. They sent us multiple trainers for several weeks to help train our initial crew, and they were able to jump in and help when we hit a rush in the first days.
Katzman: For starters, MOOYAH’s training team came out to train our entire team and help with all of the initial opening concerns, like food orders. They were there for anything we needed during that time. Even after the opening, the marketing team is available to provide any advice we need, from suggesting approaches to community relations to providing advertising ideas. They are a phone call away and always ready with fun ideas for us to promote our business.
What advice would you give to a franchisee preparing to open in a new market?
Bergeson: Take the time to educate yourself on your market. Go to your competitors and take notes. Learn what they are paying their new hires and figure out what you think is working and not working from a customer’s perspective. Use that information to build your crew and establish your culture.
Katzman: Follow the system. And reach out to other owners who have opened in new markets. Listen to ideas from people who have been through it and have been successful. This is your dream and your investment, so put all of your effort into making it everything you want it to be.