02/13/11 — Andy's to expand franchise offers to 13 other states

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Andy's to expand franchise offers to 13 other states

By Steve Herring
Published in News on February 13, 2011 1:50 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Andy's Burgers Shakes and Fries, known for its unique mixture of 1950s d├ęcor and employees who run to open the doors as they greet customers, is poised to begin spreading into 13 other states starting next month -- possibly a precursor to going nationwide.

Kenney Moore, founder of the Mount Olive-based company, has hired Franchise Dynamics of Chicago to sell franchises from Maryland to Florida and as far west as Texas.

"It feels like 1991 (when the company was founded) again," he said. "It is almost like a new birth."

The goal is to sell between 20 and 50 franchises this year -- set to kick off just as the company celebrates its 20th anniversary in March.

"It is aggressive, but that is our goal, maybe even rights to more than that moving forward," Moore said. "I have watched other concepts like Five Guys that sell basically the country and part of Canada. Frankly, I would not be worth my salt if I didn't think we were better and I do.

"If they can do it, I can too and yes, it is going to be based right here in Mount Olive. We are not going anywhere. This is where I live and hopefully it will be a good thing for Wayne County moving forward. Obviously, I am going to have to bring more folks into Wayne County than I have once I get to certain levels. You are going to see an influx of people into the corporate office."

As the company grows, Moore also anticipates growth in the Andy's Charitable Foundation's ability to provide funds to help others, mainly child-centered projects.

"It could be huge," he said. "The $100,000 to $130,000 we make on the golf tournament every year after expenses, that money, the vast majority of that, believe it or not, is raised in the stores a dollar at a time. Brownies that a waitress might make or a car wash. They get real creative because my stores get passionate about helping these kids.

"You can do math that as Andy's expands that fundraising arm is going to continue to expand, too."

Five people from outside North Carolina submitted applications for franchises within days of the announcement being posted on the company Website, Moore said.

"We haven't even really started promoting yet and we are already getting some people that are interested," he said.

"Our goal is to do this in clusters and to sell 3, 5, 10, 15, and 20-store territories so the folks who buy these territories will have a financial input before they open their first store. They will already have purchased the rights for these territories so they will be real eager to get them open. There are timeframes they have to have them opened in."

The reason for the clusters is that Moore would like to see them open within 24 months if it is an area that doesn't have an Andy's. That allows penetration into an area as opposed to just sticking one there by itself, he said.

Franchise Dynamics will sell the franchises.

"They will bring them here in what is called a discovery day," Moore said. I get to meet them, and I get the final say whether I approve them as a franchisee or not."

Moore said he tells managers working in the stores that they are not only potentially working to own their own store, but that there are jobs that are going to be created in the company that have not been thought of yet.

"I am going to be filling those jobs with people I trust, people who understand what it is our culture stands for and what we are all about," he said. "Keeping that culture, that servant-leader mentality where we try to teach people it is an honorable and good thing to open the door for somebody and say hi to them like they mean it and serve them.

"Keeping that culture is what I will be dogged about. If core values are not protected, you lose what you are as a company."

There are a lot of people who cook burgers and are in the restaurant business or any business and everybody has competition, he said.

"But what separates you from other companies is your culture," Moore said. "That is what gets you through the past two and one-half years of a bad economy."

The past two years of tough economy have pushed the company to get better, he said.

"We feel like it is time," he said. "They didn't even want to start with the first contiguous states. They are going to be selling franchises actively, really cranking up in March from Maryland to Texas and all points in between."

Moore said that the company's original philosophy of growing as money and personnel dictate will still hold true.

"We are just going to be using outside the family, if you will, growing with them and incorporating them into the family as opposed to growing them from within," he said.

Growing from within has been part of the company's philosophy since its early days.

Moore opened his first restaurant in 1991 in Berkeley Mall. Moore, who was unemployed at the time, named the restaurant after his then-18-month-old son Andy.

The business has since grown to more than 100 stores located mainly in small eastern North Carolina communities. The newest stores are in Greensboro, in Locust, a small town near Charlotte and in the Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh.

"In 1992, I made a decision," Moore said. "I was behind on my food bills and struggling and I realized I was doing this thing wrong -- it was about me and my concerns and my bills. I kind of shifted the company thought right then to let's give people the opportunity to own their own business. Let's start looking at ways for them to succeed and kind of then see what comes back to you. (Now) we have 30 formerly minimum wage employees that have their own business or multiple businesses."

Andy's is going to continue to be in small communities, he said.

Moore said the Andy's in Greensboro is a long way from the company's power base, but that the store became the first one to do more than a $1 million in sales over a 12-month period.

A store near Charlotte is also doing very well.

Moore said it is not just about the name and the concept, but about the quality of the product.

"You can't beat a good cheeseburger," he said.