When it comes to healthy fast-casual food, there are few players as well-positioned as SoBol franchising for significant growth. Known for their refreshing açai bowl topped with homemade granola and fresh fruit, SoBol also offers a pitaya bowl, a green bowl and a bevy of bright smoothies. And unlike brands with similar products, guests can expect to enjoy their tasty bowl within two to three minutes of ordering. A fast, fresh and customizable product line means that SoBol is directly aligned to millennial consumer demand.
“We’re so many things millenials want,” explained Robin Graf, Director of Sales and Business Development for SoBol. “We’re gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian. All of our products can be customized to order. And in the landscape, there are a few brands with like items, but no real competitors.”
When asked why this is the case, Graf emphasized several points of differentiation.
“We stand alone in quality, in freshness of product and in our process of serving within two or three minutes from the time a guest orders. And the culture in our stores is an experience. Guests aren’t just getting something delicious to eat. They also get to go in and identify with the culture of the brand. Our guests go in happy because they know they’re purchasing a tasty bowl, and they come out happy afterward because they feel great.”
Sandra Recchione is a SoBol franchisee and owner of SoBol’s Commack Road location on New York’s Long Island. Recchione expanded on the unique quality of SoBol’s offering.
“Many of my friends and family live in Florida, so I’ve tried every açai bowl from Jupiter to Key West and Key West up to Tampa,” she said. “There is no competition. The places that have açai and that are franchises don’t remotely compare. We have the best bowls.”
Graf said the brand knew this was the case, which is why it identified Florida and Georgia, as well as the Southeastern United States at large, as primary areas in which to target future growth. Graf said that factors like the consistently temperate climate, a receptivity to health education, an upsurge in the millenial population and area revitalization all combined to indicate that Florida and Georgia would be lucrative markets for SoBol.
“Our goal is 100 units by 2021,” Graf said. “The feedback we’ve gotten so far from franchisees we’ve sold to is so positive; they’re really excited to educate their communities and showcase food that is healthy and refreshing but also fast.”
Graf also pointed to the relatively temperate year-round climate and the high percentage of up-and-coming communities whose revitalization is being driven by an influx of millennial homeowners as significant elements in the Florida and Georgia markets’ readiness for SoBol.
To capture those markets, Graf said that SoBol plans to deploy extensive guerilla marketing campaigns, ranging from offering free samples to digital blasts promoting newly-opened stores to potential partnerships with gyms and universities in the area.
Asked if the still-growing familiarity with açai bowls might be a hindrance, Graf was confident that it would not be.
“Not at all,” she said. “Yes, the majority of people haven’t had it, but everyone knows what a smoothie is. I’ll make you a smoothie, but I’m also going to make you a bowl sample, and that’s how you gain a customer. We are going to have a great time educating and engaging with the community, and spreading the love one bowl at a time. So the growth potential is tremendous.”
As SoBol prepares to expand in the Southeast, Graf said the ideal franchise candidates would be both passionate about the brand and committed to following SoBol’s proven model.
“We’ve proven our method works and simplified our model so that franchisees that follow that absolutely will be successful,” Grad explained. “And our support system is amazing and second to none—we’re here morning, noon and night to offer support. We’re looking for someone who wants to join a proven brand that is successful in its model and who wants to be part of the SoBol family.”
A millenial-approved product paired with an impressive growth opportunity? That’s good enough to eat.
The investment level for opening a SoBol location is $174,800 to $249,500 with a $15,000 franchise fee. To learn more about franchising opportunities with SoBol, click here.