The Baltimore native grew up around restaurants thanks to her dad, a Burger King franchisee for the past 30 years.
“After graduating from college, I went over to the Burger King side to help him with the day-to-day operations,” Johnson said. “I’ve been with his Burger King franchise for about 12 years now, ever since I graduated from undergrad.”
As a married mother of two sons, ages 6 and 2, Johnson wanted to pursue a food-related franchise opportunity that offered the people of her community a healthier option. Naturally drawn to the franchise model after seeing her father’s long term success, she researched salad franchise opportunities and came across Saladworks.
“About six months ago, my family and I were talking about how the world is going healthier,” Johnson said. “Burger King was always my dad’s thing, but I wanted to do something more for me. I’m a young mom who has an interest in fitness and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. We started researching brands about six months ago. We found Saladworks and visited their office, which is located right outside of Philadelphia and it all immediately clicked. We loved the food, the people and the culture.”
Once she had chosen a franchise concept, picking the area for development was an easy next step. Baltimore was not only where Johnson had business experience but there was also a distinct lack of competition. With personal ties to the area, Johnson was excited to expand her influence in the area. She was born and raised in the Baltimore area and received her MBA from the University of Maryland.
“Saladworks is the biggest salad franchise in the U.S. and there are only three in the entire state of Maryland with none in Baltimore, so it was a wide-open market,” she said. “Restaurants do really well here. We looked at a lot of numbers for different chain restaurants including Burger King and the AUV is always higher in Baltimore. It may be that we have fewer options, but because chain restaurants do well here, it felt like a fantastic fit.”
Johnson partnered with her father and husband when she committed to opening six locations in the Baltimore area. One of the benefits of having both personal and business experience in the area is a streamline of the development process. Two locations are already scheduled to open in Cockeysville and Bel Air in August and November, respectively. Two more locations are in the works for Owings Mills and Towson.
“The Saladworks franchise development team has spent a lot of time working with Amanda and her father and they’ll be a great fit for the brand,” Saladworks’ Vice President of Development Eric Lavinder said. “They know what it’s like working with a franchise and know the parameters. They also know the market.”
Lavinder noted that Johnson’s deep ties to her community will be a huge asset for the brand.
“The Johnsons are actively involved in their community,” Lavinder said. “They’ve been living in Baltimore most of their lives. It’s really a perfect scenario for us to partner with them.”
Johnson’s case is also a perfect example of how the Saladworks brand is attractive to franchisees from all different levels of experience. Johnson has restaurant experience which gives her a foundation for understanding how to operate a Saladworks but the systems and processes offered by Saladworks allow for franchisees to be successful without prior experience.
Johnson has restaurant experience, franchising experience and business experience — plus, of course, soft skills. “Those three things really fit what we’re looking for,” Lavinder said. “We are partnering with lots of hamburger, pizza, sandwich and smoothie places to grow our brand. Those four spaces are so crowded and have so much competition that they lack growth opportunities. Because Saladworks is not sold out in any market and because the salad concept is not a national player, this is really a great opportunity for someone to diversify.”
The startup costs for a Saladworks franchise range from $163,724 to $452,292. The franchise fee ranges from $30,000 to $36,000. To learn more about franchising with Saladworks, visit https://www.saladworks.com/franchise.