Matt Andrew, former president of Moe's Southwest Grill, opened the first Uncle Maddio's Pizza Joint in Atlanta in 2008 with a goal of conquering the fast casual pizza market.
Now the chain now has 18 units operating in six states and plans call for 170 units in development by the end of the year. Andrew chatted with us about why the "turnkey" concept is taking off.
Q: To what do you attribute the chain's success?
Andrew: We believe our concept truly resonates with customers. Guests love the create-your-own pizza, salad and panini model with a choice of fresh ingredients. It's a personalized experience, but one that delivers on our promise of fresh, fast and affordable.
Q: With more than 150 stores in development, how do you ensure you don't grow too quickly?
Andrew: Our growth is intentional and strategic. We always thoroughly research a community before we sign a lease, and we seek out the assistance of real estate professionals who can match our target market with the ideal location and demographic. We then guide our franchisees through the process to ensure consistency and success.
Q: Why is pizza a fit for fast casual?
Andrew: The typical American family eats pizza at least once a week. Pizza is the ultimate family-friendly food because it allows for customization. Every member of the family can get exactly what they want. And the segment is growing. It is a $46 billion industry
Q: What is your piece of advice to restaurant owners who want to franchise a concept?
Andrew: Immerse oneself in the franchise business: Do the research, visit the stores, talk to franchisees, meet the management team, the franchise operations, marketing and support teams.
There is a big difference in running restaurants and being a franchisor. You have to be able to teach both how to do it, and why; especially with the work force we have today. If the employees don't understand why (they're doing something), it's hard to get them motivated.
For your franchisees to be successful you must build replicable systems. We use the (KISS Method): 'Keep it simple stupid.'
All of the above are so important to be a successful franchisor. But the question is what is the number one piece of advice I can give is to put the best interest of your franchisees first. Make sure they are making money. If you do this every day then your brand will be a success. Plus, it's the right thing to do.
Q: What types of technology do you use to grow your business?
Andrew: Interactive technology engages consumers. We've found that social media, website video content and customer intercepts with iPads are effective means of garnering followers, fans and repeat customers.
We also have a world class loyalty program that allows us to track a customer's dining habits.
Read more about operations management.
Cherryh Butler has been a reporter for nearly 10 years, writing on a variety of topics ranging from the restaurant industry to business and health and fitness news. Before joining FastCasual.com as editor, she oversaw KioskMarketplace.com and PizzaMarketplace.com and contributed to RetailCustomerExperience.com. She's also written for several daily newspapers, magazines and websites, including The Kansas City Star and American Fitness magazine.