Interview with Alan Hixon, President of MOOYAH Burgers, Fries, & Shakes
By ambrosio on 09/12/12
MOOYAH Burgers, Fries, & Shakes is an emerging leader of the “better burger” fast casual segment. The family-friendly menu features 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. Ranked #1 in Fast Casual’s “2009 Top 100 Movers and Shakers,” the MOOYAH Burger franchise has grown from humble Frisco, Texas roots into a major player through quality products, a healthy cookout trailer business for corporate, social, and fundraising events, and forward-thinking technology innovations like online and text message ordering. MOOYAH began franchising in 2007.
Alan Hixon, President of MOOYAH, is an industry veteran with a proven track record of strategic vision, brand building, financial management, and operational success. Prior to joining MOOYAH Burgers and Fries, Alan served as President and COO of Freebirds World Burrito where he steered the brand from a startup entrepreneurial concept to regional cult status. Alan was instrumental in completing the strategically planned acquisition of the brand in 2008. Alan is a very active advocate of the fast casual space and is regularly asked to share his experiences on the path to success at industry-related functions at the national level.
Franchise Help (FH): How many location do you have at present? Which regions of the country do you have the greatest concentration of restaurants? How are the restaurants performing?
Alan Hixon (AH): 36 locations open/in development. We have the greatest concentration in Texas. As a private company, we can’t provide specific sales/revenue metrics, but our restaurants are doing well and we have an impressive average unit volume. Our primary expansion targets include Texas, California, Virginia, Washington, Kansas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Connecticut, and Florida.
FH: What sets MOOYAH apart from other "better burger" franchises?
AH: MOOYAH has experienced growth because its founders and company executives understood that customer purchase power is kind to today’s consumer and embraced this trend. MOOYAH built a model to attract these customers by giving them quality product and customizable options.
MOOYAH doesn’t skimp on quality, and only uses the highest quality meats, cheeses, and vegetable toppings. With baked fresh buns and Dreyer's Ice Cream used for the shakes, MOOYAH doesn’t want to offer the customers anything less than top quality for their money. In fact, MOOYAH uses the following brand names, Ketchup: Heinz; Mayo: Hellman's; Mustard: French's; BBQ Sauce: KC Masterpiece; Ranch: Hidden Valley; Buffalo Sauce: Frank's Original, A1 Sauce, and Cholula Sauce.
MOOYAH lets customers be in control of their burger experience. Guests choose a freshly-baked white or whole wheat bun or a hand-leafed lettuce wrapper to opting for never-frozen 100 percent American beef, Jennie-O turkey, or the delectable veggie burger. They even get their choice of unlimited veggies and a choice of nine sauces. Guests can literally customize their meal in a million ways!
MOOYAH even offers ordering kiosks. For guests who don’t want to wait in line or are simply not in the mood to have someone take their order, MOOYAH locations have ordering kiosks, where the guests can use a touchscreen to complete their order and pay by credit/debit card.
FH: Which day part is the busiest for MOOYAH? What percentage of a typical restaurant's business is dine-in versus takeout?
AH: Lunch and dinner are split 50/50 when it comes to our busiest daypart. The majority of our guests dine-in to enjoy our quality product in our inviting atmosphere.
FH: Can you describe your primary target market?
AH: Our primary target market includes any community within the United States that would welcome the MOOYAH concept.
FH: What are some common characteristics of your top performing restaurants?
AH: Our best performing restaurants have franchisees that follow our proven systems for success, and have a bit of magic in creating lots of energy, consistency, and obsession within their four walls.
FH: What can you tell us about the estimated initial investment and royalty fees for a MOOYAH restaurant?
AH: $334,950 to $529,700 (includes build-out expenses and certain start-up expenses; part of this investment is the initial franchise fee, which is $30,000.) Royalty Fees: 6%/3% for Ad Fund.
FH: What are your growth plans for MOOYAH? Which geographic markets are you targeting for expansion?
AH: We expect to reach 50 locations by the end of 2012, and grow to 100 open/under contract by end of 2013. Our primary target markets include Texas, California, Virginia, Washington, Kansas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Connecticut, Florida, and many others.
FH: Is there anything else you wish to share about MOOYAH?
AH: This is going to be a break out year for MOOYAH, as we are seeing a lot of traction from entrepreneurs, who want to grow with us and offer our quality product and energetic environment in their communities across the country.