Following a Franchise Dream: The Success of Saladworks 2011-05-02
Posted Date May 2011
By: Franchise Solutions
Born with an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to be my own boss, I was always trying to think of a new business or the next great idea. I came to realize at an early age that I didn’t necessarily need to invent my success but simply to capitalize on my work ethic.
I was visiting the Cherry Hill Mall many years ago with some friends of mine when I saw the first ever Saladworks. I was immediately attracted to all of the fresh, hand-cut produce, and I just had to try a salad. After eating the salad, I realized that it had everything that I was looking for; not only was the produce fresh, but the dressings were fantastic, and the portions were huge…a trifecta in my book. I had my first Saladworks salad at age twelve, and I knew I had stumbled upon America’s next great fast casual restaurant!
In 1986, and still even today, when most consumers think of salad, they think of it as a side dish. Salad was something that you have before your main meal. Then along came Saladworks and they stormed into the market destined to change the way customers think about salad. I knew that I wanted to be part of that growth plan.
From that moment on, I started to follow Saladworks closely. Within five years, by 1991, they had over six locations in the Southern New Jersey area. I knew that this concept was on to something and I was determined to be part of it. As I grew, I too watched Saladworks grow. Shortly after my first encounter with Saladworks, they started to franchise, and I watched as more and more locations opened.
I attended college at the University of Delaware, and triple majored in Operations Management, Marketing, and Economics. I felt that these disciplines would give me the tools needed to run a successful business of my own someday.
Soon after I graduated in May of 2003, I attended a Saladworks “Discovery Day.” This informative session provided me with details about the brand and concept. Although, I was eager to invest, I did not have enough capital to open a location. As much as Saladworks admired my tenacity and eagerness to join, they were not able to approve me as a franchisee. Bound and determined to be a part of the success of Saladworks, I continue to save. At age 25, I finally had enough capital to give it a try. I jumped in with both feet and have never looked back since.
One of my most important life lessons came from a college professor who taught me that “The key to being successful is to surround yourself with people that are smarter than you. No one person knows everything.” The concept of franchising appealed to me on many different levels. Saladworks had a proven business model, so why would I try to reinvent that? I decided to surround myself with the industry leader. Although I always knew I wanted to be in business for myself, the thought of opening up a new restaurant concept, in an industry that is plagued with failure, scared me quite a bit. I had been following Saladworks for over ten years at this point, and I knew that there was a demand for healthy eating. The decision to become a Saladworks franchisee provided me the opportunity to achieve my lifelong dream, but not to do it alone.
I currently have three locations in Connecticut, Delaware, and New Jersey. I have been fortunate to find excellent general managers that help me run the businesses; we truly work as a team. We value everyone’s input, and empower all employees to make decisions on a day-to-day basis that help keep the fans of our brand happy. Saladworks has taught me that treating customers well turns them into loyal fans of the brand. Those fans turn into heavy users and will continue to come back again and again. Many of the employees in my restaurants know a fans’ exact order and will start making it as soon as they enter the restaurant. Fans love our attention to detail and it coupled with our quality and cleanliness are what set us apart from other restaurant concepts.
I have mirrored the company culture in my own stores after that of Saladworks. Knowing the DNA of your organization no matter how large or small is crucial to being successful. Saladworks embodies the core values of Together Everyone Achieves More, Value Each Other, Passion to be the Best, Do the Right Thing, Do Whatever it takes to Get it Done, Best People and It’s All About the Customer. I replicate that in each of my stores. No matter what store I am working at, I feel the same sense of “family” at each location. I have very little turnover in employees, a feat unheard of in the restaurant or retail industry. While the restaurant business can be demanding, employees of Saladworks love what they do, embrace our systems and culture and provide each and every fan with a fanatical service experience.
The best part about the Saladworks team from a franchisee’s perspective is that they are never satisfied with status quo. The ability to change and evolve and not follow trends but create them is a hallmark of the Saladworks organization. A little over a year ago, for example, they added over 20 new ingredients to the salad case. Items such as roasted artichokes, edamame, tofu, green beans, and avocado, to name just a few, were added to the menu. Additionally, Saladworks partnered with a world renowned branding firm to further enhance the overall experience of Saladworks in part by giving the stores a fresh, new, clean design based on increased thru put and spurring an emotional reaction from fans across the country.
Franchising is a partnership. Saladworks listens to their franchisees and takes their input into serious consideration. They have assembled a Franchise Advisory Council, of which I am currently a member. We meet throughout the year and discuss various aspects of the business including product development, marketing, budgets and expansion. The business philosophy of Saladworks is an organization that fosters great talent and surrounds themselves with partners whose talents far surpass others in the industry, aligns with my own personal business philosophy, which is why we have been a successful team.
I believe the number one reason for my success, however, is that I truly believe in this concept. As I have been for the past 15 years, I am an avid customer of Saladworks. I love the salads and eat one almost every day. In my quest for continued success, I have looked at other concepts that serve burgers and fries. I have come to the conclusion that I couldn’t invest in something that I don’t believe in. I wouldn’t feel right serving “food” that I personally wouldn’t eat on a daily basis.Many people think that eating healthy is difficult, and at times, it can be. In a land filled with fast food establishments and sit down restaurants that offer appetizers that have more calories than one should consume in an entire day, healthy eating is not as popularized. Saladworks is creating a new framework for healthy eating. All Saladworks salads average less than 300 calories and the complimentary menu items are not only good but good for you. We as an organization are educating our customers. Saladworks provides fresh, made to order, healthy, great tasting food, that is served fast.
The day that I ate my first salad from Saladworks, I knew that I was going to be a part of something great. Saladworks is the Nation’s number one salad franchise serving America’s Best Salads and I plan to continue my success with the concept. I don’t plan on stopping at three locations. Saladworks currently has over 100 locations in 12 states and I would like to continue to add to my own portfolio of stores as the concept expands. Saladworks has allowed me to fulfill not only my personal goals and aspirations but has allowed me to create fans of a brand that I too am a fan of.