Q&A with Dave McDougall, Your Pie COO
In December 2018, we announced our new Chief Operating Officer, Dave McDougall. Dave brings more than 30 years of franchise operations experience from organizations like Back Yard Burgers, NexCen Brands, FOCUS Brands and more. We recently sat down with Dave to discuss findings from his first 90 days and what’s ahead, including his strategy for growing sales and profitability at Your Pie.
Q: What has surprised you the most in your first 90 days with Your Pie?
A: The culture has really surprised me. I’ve never seen such unbridled passion from both franchise owners and corporate support teams. There’s truly a sense of family, and everyone works very collaboratively to address challenges and assess opportunities. I think a company’s culture is always a reflection of its leadership, and this definitely rings true of founder Drew French and CEO Bucky Cook, who truly want to do right by Your Pie’s, franchisees, customers, associates and communities.
Q: What is your biggest priority for Your Pie in 2019?
A: One of my top priorities has been helping Your Pie define our purpose as a franchisor. We want to be a great partner for our franchisees, and we want to lead with credibility. We have to filter every initiative through the lens of the franchisee, and that means asking: “How will this improve unit-level economics, the customer experience?” We’re doing some marketing research and development, and we have already identified some initial opportunities to improve things like cost of labor, vendor pricing, point-of-sale technology and more. Everything we produce and introduce needs to be thoroughly vetted and have a place within the overarching strategy to support franchisee profitability.
Q: Do franchisees get to speak into this strategy directly?
A: Absolutely. There aren’t many franchise brands out there where franchisees have direct access to the senior leadership—but here, they do. We also have a peer-elected franchise advisory board that represents the system and speaks into major strategic decisions. Plus, we run an annual franchisee satisfaction survey and use those results to help develop objectives each year. We have established benchmarks for where we want to rank in marketing, operations, training, etc., and actively work to improve satisfaction within each of those fields year over year. At the end of the day, transparency is key. We will make mistakes from time to time but want our franchisees to know they can count on us to fix them. Their input and participation can only make us better.
Q: Are there any specific initiatives you’d like to share about?
A: For the organization right now, one of the biggest investments we’re making is in technology. The way that people are engaging with restaurants is changing very, very quickly, and a significant amount of orders are coming through digital platforms. We have to make sure our systems are optimized to provide the best possible experience for both customers and our store teams.
We’re also rolling out a new franchisee orientation program where new store owners will meet with all department heads for a full overview of what to expect in the next 6-12 months to get their store open. We know the development process can be very stressful, and we believe the process is made exponentially better with face-to-face communication on the front end.
Q: As the fast casual pizza landscape becomes increasingly competitive, what are Your Pie’s biggest opportunities to stand out?
A: There are some strong competitors out there, but I truly believe we have superior food. Our hand-tossed dough makes a huge difference in the final product, and our menu development is unparalleled. In a crowded landscape, we have to remember that every guest interaction counts. Our service and hospitality have to be better than everywhere else. More than anything, we have to get creative in how we’re communicating our differentiators to customers.
Q: What would you say to someone considering Your Pie as a franchise?
A: At Your Pie, you get more than a franchise—you get a whole team of people behind you who want to see you succeed. Everything we’re doing and that we’ve talked about doing is meant to support the franchisee experience, from both a culture and sales perspective. We’re also backed by an investment group called Georgia Oak Partners, which affords us access to phenomenal resources, including our Chairman, David Barr. David is a multi-unit franchisee himself and sits on the board of a number of well known franchise companies. He has a deep understanding of the franchise landscape, both as a franchisee and franchisor.
Q: Where do you see Your Pie in 10 years?
A: In 10 years, I hope Your Pie will continue to be known as a compelling investment opportunity for new and existing franchisees, and known for doing good in the communities where we operate. Rather than give a quantifiable growth goal around how many units we’ll be operating, I’d rather focus on having successful restaurants. I hope that we’ll be seen as a great franchisor and a great partner, and looked upon as a leader in our category.
Interested in learning more about franchise opportunities at Your Pie? Email [email protected] to connect with a franchise sales specialist. We look forward to hearing from you!