There is an infectious energy about employees at KFC and perhaps no one represents this more so than Melissa Faurest, Director of Development at KFC, who is the executive in charge of new unit development and portfolio strategy in the U.S. for the iconic international brand.
We took time to talk to Faurest about her vision for KFC’s franchise development and asked for details about the nationwide “American Showman” remodeling campaign that is currently transforming a majority of KFC’s roughly 4,200 restaurants.
What excites you about your job at KFC?
MF: I’m empowered to make decisions and encouraged to explore new ideas. I have always loved the KFC brand and it’s a great time to be here. We’ve had eight consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth, and people are really interested in building new restaurants. My favorite moments are when we have grand openings of franchise restaurants. The owner and the whole family are there, the community is there, everyone comes to celebrate the event. I love that. Just to be a part of this expansion is very exciting.
Where did you work before coming to KFC?
MF: I’ve been at YUM! for 11 years and this is my sixth position here. Previously I was the Director of Financial Planning and Capital for KFC Global. I was based in Texas. Until now, all five of my positions were in finance. Now I’m in real estate development. The company does a great job of developing its people. They let you stretch and grow.
Before I came to the company I was in accounting at Georgia Pacific in Atlanta. Then I went back to school to get my MBA at Duke University. I spent one year in AmeriCorps at Habitat for Humanity where I developed a personal finance program for new homeowners. Then I came to YUM!
YUM! was so interesting to me because the people were friendly, smart, and driven. I loved that the organization was so flat. You could go to the cafeteria and sit next to (former Chairman and CEO) David Novak and he would tell you to call him David.
MF: The KFC heritage was the source of our inspiration. We asked ourselves what the Colonel would do, and the result is the signature red and white striped color palette that is bold, fresh and stands out in the crowded QSR (Quick Service Restaurant) marketplace. The interior has a relaxed and comfortable feel. Natural wood tones are used, but they are punctuated with our signature red.
Our goal is to remodel 70 percent of our restaurants over three years to the American Showman design. It takes us as little as eight days to remodel a franchise location, and the intent is to keep the drive thru open throughout construction.
What is a challenging part of working in development at KFC?
MF: The majority of our restaurants are franchise owned. My team helps franchisees identify locations to build new restaurants, and helps them make reinvestment decisions in existing locations. You have to have the technical expertise to guide franchisees in those decisions, but you also have to be very good at relationship building. In addition to the franchisees, there are local jurisdictions with varying regulations, brokers, real estate owners. It takes a lot of influence, but the promise that it holds is exciting. We feel like there’s a lot of opportunity across the country for developing new KFC restaurants. With success comes more success.
KFC looks for candidates with this idea in mind: “Smart, Heart, Courage.” The company wants employees who are bright and have a passion for what they do; have compassion for co-workers and the communities they serve; and have courage to advance bold ideas and achieve break-through results.
You can work alongside leaders like Melissa Faurest. Various real estate development leader positions are currently open on her team.
“The people who accept these roles will have the opportunity to work for one of the most iconic brands in history,” says Tammy Johnson, Senior Manager of Staffing at KFC. “It’s really a chance to do something special. It’s an amazing time to be a part of this initiative. Plus, it’s an unbelievable opportunity for resume building.”
Did we mention fun? “FUN” is the word that describes working at KFC. “We have a People Promise,” Johnson says. “Be your best self, make a difference, have fun!”
Johnson describes KFC as a “recognition culture” in which excellent work and good deeds are not only acknowledged but celebrated. At quarterly KFC meetings, employees are brought on stage and congratulated for work well done. Every employee also has their own personal recognition award that he or she gives to colleagues to say “Bravo!” Johnson, for example, has her own “Finish Line Award” that she presents to an employee that she observes driving really hard to finish a project or deliverable. There’s even a monthly “Culture Hero Award” in which a few outstanding employees are surrounded by colleagues, music playing, and awarded a front-door parking space for one month, a cash prize, and a cape and sunglasses!
Visit KFC’s career site for openings on Melissa’s team and other opportunities.
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