In Focus
COMMUNITY | Staff Reporter, Australia

"We have an agressive 12 months ahead" says Urban Burgers new owner Shane Heal

Urban Burger have been purchased by The Heal Group and are introducing a lot of change in the business. Read this interview to find out what they have planned.

QSR Media: When and Why did The Heal Group take over the master franchise of Urban Burger?
Shane: I bought the Urban Burger business because I could see the upside in the brand and had some great franchisees already operating in Melbourne. We felt like adjustments needed to be made regarding the menu. We have just launched the new menu in Qld that now includes wraps and salads as well as breakfast and coffee. It has been very well received.

QSR Media: What does The Heal Group bring to the management of Urban Burger?
Shane: I believe our ownership and management brings experience from a franchisees perspective having been a franchisee of 6 brands. We have opened more than 30 stores and have learnt through our own mistakes and successes as well as seeing the positives and negatives of the franchisors we worked with.

It was important for me to find the right CEO that had history from a financial and operational perspective. Andrew Jensen expertise gives me great comfort in the direction he will help steer our business. He has worked within the Ray White Group and also Crazy Johns and both of these experiences will only help Urban Burger achieve our goals for us as the franchisor and also help our franchisees achieve their goals. He is helping set a successful culture for our brand moving forward with a real emphasis on supporting franchisees whilst opening new successful stores. He has been fantastic!

QSR Media: What changes have you made since becoming master franchise?
Shane: The biggest changes we have made relate to laying the foundations for Urban Burger so we can continue to grow successful stores. We have employed good people to support the franchisees. We certainly understand the importance to ensure our franchisees are well trained and have total support and new initiatives being rolled out. We look forward to launching our new loyalty program before the end of 2011.

Our menu needed to be modernised. I believe our new menu has been simplified whilst adding wraps and salads as an option. We have also added 3 options at $5.90 for kids!

All of our Qld stores have an Urban Bar which provides the option for our customers to be served alcohol. We are now a fantastic option for families and couples to eat at one of our stores at a much cheaper price than a restaurant whilst enjoying a really good vibe and getting quality fresh food.

QSR Media:  What's new at Urban Burger?
Shane: We have opened our first express store in Qld and it’s been extremely successful. This model is only 40-50m2 and has an outside seating area. The advantage of this store is that we can keep the rents well down and the turn key business can been opened for up to $220k. The franchisee works in the business and needs very few staff to employ. We feel like this can be a very good option for a first time franchisee that may not have a large amount of capital to invest in a larger store with bigger overheads.

We believe that the selection of the right partners ( franchisees) are crucial. We feel like the foundations have now been laid and we will start to open up the opportunities for the right franchisees to jump on board. We have identified some fantastic areas that we believe will suit the direction of our brand. It’s a very exciting time for Urban Burger and its always rewarding when I hear customers say “ that’s the best burger I’ve had”! Now it’s just about letting people know who we are and what we do so more people can enjoy our stores too.

QSR Media: Tell us where Urban Burger fits within the gourmet burger QSR landscape?
Shane: Serving gourmet, restaurant quality food in a fast paced environment, UB offers quality food either as a restaurant style,as express casual dining environment or as a quick takeaway option.

QSR Media: What are your plans for the next 18-24 months with the brand?

Shane: UB will continue to work closely with our exsiting and new franchisess to ensure we hear their needs and help them deliver stronger performing businesses. We will also be launching our VIP program, The Urban Tribe offering great deals and speacials to our customers. We have targeted 12 new locations for new sites accross Australia so we have an agressive 12 months ahead.

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