Within Yum!, a staff of 19 people support 2,500 Pizza Hut Express locations . The department functions like a small company within the Pizza Hut organization. The team emphasizes the importance of cross-functional expertise as they are responsible for developing new sites, selling sites, supporting operations, finance, architecture, design and legal support.

As the director of finance, Molly Light is responsible for business analysis, plan negotiation budgeting, brand compliance and legal documentation across the three Yum! Express brands: Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC.

When the framework for the menu boards was being redesigned, it was Light’s job to analyze the profitability behind each product to understand which asset to use to best drive sales.

She says as new projects unfold, the team relies on Yum’s Crisis-Like Collaboration philosophy to manage them. For example, when The Army & Air Force Exchange Service expressed their interest in offering Pizza Hut Express locations with digital menu boards in military bases worldwide, the team initiated the plan, which involved a working backwards approach to get the job done.

Shannon St. Clair’s job as senior manager of architecture and engineering for the Express Team is to ensure brand standards are being met in terms of imaging and equipment for each non-traditional restaurant in the U.S. This includes façade design, creating menu board content, championing the menu boards, equipment layout, the use of proprietary equipment and maximizing operational flow with each location.

She has a vision for the ideal Pizza Hut Express location; she calls it “The Dream.”

“It’s a utopia for a Pizza Hut Express if we could have everything we ever wanted,” she said. When we begin work on a new location, we incorporate as many branding elements as possible. We may not get everything, but that’s ok because the important thing is that everything fits well into the context of the units surroundings.”

The Dream consists of the horizontal Pizza Hut logo, the horizontal digital menu boards, “which does the selling for us,” she said, and a vertical element which holds the heated cabinet for customers to grab and go. These elements are the must haves; the countertop, wall finishes and other décor items are considered icing on the cake and gets us closer to “The Dream,” St. Clair said.

Sheryl Fox, the travel channel manager, spends 50 percent of her time selling sites and exploring new opportunities. She may hear about an airport that will soon undergo a remodel so she’ll find out if there is a space for an Express location that will showcase the Yum! brands. Or an existing Licensee may contact her saying he found additional space to lease where they can grow and expand their business. In addition, she is always exploring what the competition is doing with digital and shares this information with the team. Together, they analyze how Yum! can differentiate itself.

“When I share the findings with the brain trust, we ask how we can transfer that to wow the customer and earn their business,” she said.

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