For a 100-unit brand that’s 30 years old, it would be easy to rest on its laurels, but for Saladworks, America’s original and largest fast-casual salad concept, now is the time to kick it into high gear. With the addition of a new VP of Franchise Sales, a strategic franchise and corporate growth plan, and several new programs designed to improve franchisee support, 2017 is set to be Saladworks’ best year yet.
To lead the growth charge, franchising veteran Paul Tripodes joined the Saladworks team in May as Vice President of Franchise Sales. With more than 15 years of franchising experience with brands like Boston’s Restaurant & Sports Bar, Bojangles and most recently Moe’s Southwest Grill, Tripodes will spearhead the brand’s aggressive plans for growth in 2017 and beyond.
“I became a fan of Saladworks from my very first visit,” said Tripodes. “I’m on the road a lot in my line of work and always looking for a healthy meal. I could eat here three to four times a week. The healthy, fresh ingredients that are customizable and made to order set Saladworks apart from other competitors in the fast casual space and allows for unlimited growth potential. I’m very excited to be part of the Saladworks team and to help bring the brand to national prominence.”
As Vice President of Franchise Sales, Tripodes will be responsible for recruiting multi-unit franchisees looking to diversify their portfolio with a new growth vehicle. His main areas of focus in year one will be New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Long Island, and Upstate New York.
A key piece of Saladworks’ growth strategy is through development of corporate stores, which should open in the next six to 12 months in key markets in Atlanta, Georgia and Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas. Corporate stores will act as a catalyst to growth in the new markets mentioned above as well as in prominent locations in the brand’s core market. These new stores will boast a similar footprint and will test efficiencies in technology and operational flow.
To support its network of nearly 70 existing franchisees and to attract the attention of multi-unit owners looking to diversify their portfolios, Saladworks has developed several new programs to offer additional revenue streams.
Saladworks’ executive chef Andy Revella has been busy in the kitchen, developing the summer LTO “Sweet Vs. Spicy” menu featuring the Very Berry Melon salad, a vegetarian offering with blueberries, strawberries, watermelon, goat cheese and Poppy Seed Dressing and the Southwest Chicken & Tomatillo Salad, with clean sous vide chicken, tomatillos, jicama, green onions, cilantro, charred corn on the cob, roasted jalapeno pepper and Jalapeno Ranch dressing. Both salads, as well as a spicy chicken poblano summer soup, are available from June 19 until August 13. Rounding out the summer menu will be the rollout of proprietary housemade aguas frescas, clean and natural drinks made from scratch each day with fresh-blended fruits and vegetables, naturally sweetened with agave and seasoned with fresh herbs. Currently in test, the aguas frescas are available in cucumber-ginger and watermelon-basil.
“At Saladworks, the name of the game is healthy, fresh new offerings to keep our loyal guests coming back on a regular basis and entice new users of the brand,” said Patrick Sugrue, President and Chief Executive Officer of Saladworks. “We’re thrilled with how the summer menu items turned out and look forward to seeing how our customers receive them. We’re committed to ongoing menu innovation to surprise and delight our fans and to increase sales for our franchisees.”
Another franchisee upgrade is a mandatory store remodel, rolled out in waves, designed to create cohesion throughout the system, improve brand awareness and increase system-wide sales. To lend additional support when locations close for a few weeks during the remodel, Saladworks’ corporate team is providing a food truck to park outside so that franchisees can continue servicing their loyal fans during the construction period.
“The new prototype is the future of Saladworks,” said Sugrue. “One of our franchisees, Nish Patel, has stores in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and has seen consistent sales growth with double digit increases in sales after the remodel. We’re confident that the remodel will yield similar results across the system and we’re committed to helping our franchisees through the transition.”
Saladworks is also launching a technology bundle across the system that includes a unified, cloud-based, POS system; managed internet hardware; online ordering; the brand’s Punchh loyalty program; Cloud Clover Music System; Profit Keeper, an online P&L statement tool; and a system-wide intranet and portal. The technology bundle exemplifies the company’s commitment to innovation and personalization of the ordering platforms.
A vibrant and storied brand since 1986, Saladworks is drawing upon its 30 years of experience in the franchise industry to forge a new path, increase unit level economics and grow its footprint across the U.S. in 2017.