Owning a restaurant can often be viewed as being too difficult, due to costs, competition and a crowded industry, with new restaurants popping up constantly. But Saladworks, the nearly 100-unit fast casual salad-centric franchise, has been laser-focused on building a franchise offering with programs that set its franchisees up for long-term success.
“The restaurant business can be looked at as more difficult to run than other businesses. However, Saladworks is on the easy end of the restaurant scale,” said Jena Henderson, Vice President of Growth for Saladworks. “There are no fryers and no grease, and we use all fresh products. There’s no bar, so our franchisees aren’t working until 2:00 a.m. Saladworks has a much simpler business model than other restaurant brands.”
Because of the simple business model, prospective franchisees do not need restaurant experience to own a Saladworks. The brand provides its new franchisees and any managers they wish to bring along a four week training program at the start, and provides consistent support and business planning guidance from local franchise business coaches on an ongoing basis.
In addition to the training, Saladworks develops national marketing programs designed to both build the brand as well as drive consumers to individual restaurants. Franchisees also go through an annual business planning process in which they develop local store marketing efforts to complement the national marketing initiatives.
“To show our commitment to the importance of local store marketing, we have offered our franchisees a spending match program for marketing in 2019. Franchisees will be able to co-op with other stores in their market and Saladworks will manage logistics and creative. We will match franchisees dollar for dollar on spending,” said Henderson. “We want to encourage our franchisees to spend money on local marketing, and matching their spend is a great way to show how much the corporate office supports their success.”
Another priority to Saladworks is improving its recruiting and retention programs. The brand uses a third-party system to help with recruiting, and invested in a new training manager who will be responsible for ongoing training at the store level as well as putting systems in place that utilize technology to recruit, train and retain employees.
“Our mentality on recruiting and training is that we serve those who serve salads across the counter. We prioritize our employees, and encourage our franchisees to show that same level of support,” said Henderson. “On top of offering competitive pay, we try to get our employees involved so that they feel part of the bigger picture. Among other things, we have created monthly and seasonal employee contests in the stores, pop-up parties in the winter where our CEO surprises employees with gifts, and opportunities to grow with the brand.”
Josh Burton owns two Saladworks franchises, and embraces that same approach to employee development, and does everything he can to move employees forward. One of his employees, Krissy Scott, started in a food prep role before becoming an assistant manager, then manager, and finally co-owner of one of his stores.
“My personal belief is that your store is only as good as your manager. If you have a great location and a bad manager, your store won't do well,” said Burton. “Krissy was such a hard worker, and you could tell she was invested in the business doing well. Now she has skin in the game, because her ownership is tied to how well the store does, so the store is run even better from a cost standpoint, too.”
Josh Burton is just one example of a successful franchisee who has utilized and embodied Saladworks’ efforts. In 2019, Saladworks will continue to foster open communication and sharing of ideas and best practices through its Franchise Advisory Council. That group has affected so much positive change, Saladworks is putting together a Technology Council, and Employee Retention Council and a Research and Development Task Force.
“Our franchisees are the life blood of our business. They are our family and together we have made this brand successful for more than 30 years,” said Henderson. “Our ultimate goal is to help them grow and achieve their individual goals by giving them unmatchable support.”
With a simple business model, best-in-class corporate support and a focus on employee recruitment and retention, Saladworks is a standout brand in the restaurant industry. Prospective franchisees can expect the startup investment to range between $388,723 and $531,455.