Firehouse Subs is heating up the fast casual sandwich segment with big portions, big flavors, and excellent customer service. The brand, which was started by firefighters in southern Florida in 1994, is expecting to surpass 1,100 restaurants this year. "It’s amazing,” says Greg Delks, vice president of non-traditional and global development for Firehouse Subs. “The original founders had no plans to become a national chain—they just wanted to be the best darn restaurant in Jacksonville.”
Delks says the main reason for Firehouse Subs’ success is the menu’s mix of hot and cold subs, piled high with high quality meat and condiments. “It’s all about the food,” he says. The chain’s unwavering commitment to providing excellent customer service is also one of the biggest differences between Firehouse Subs and other sandwich fast casuals. If you want to get a sense of how much people love the brand, take a look at their social media pages, filled with raves from customers. “I encourage our franchisees to check out our Facebook page and read what people are saying,” Delks says. It’s all part of why Firehouse is so popular. “Diners want to have good food and great customer service.”
Franchisees who are ready to work with a company that operates with a small-business mindset are a perfect match for Firehouse Subs. “It’s never about the deal for us,” Delks says. “We’re very selective and privately held, and we want franchisees who operate at a high level.” The company requires potential franchisees to have a minimum of $80,000 to invest in their new store, plus a desire to learn the business inside and out. “We’re really looking for owner operators who are fully engaged in the restaurant with fanatical customer service,” Delks says.
As part of the approval process, franchise candidates are brought to the company headquarters in Jacksonville for a Day of Discovery before heading to one of the company’s 50 training restaurants across the country for its Week of Discovery. “We use area representatives who run training restaurants in each of our markets,” Delks says. “We want to make sure the franchise candidate knows everything about running a Firehouse Subs.” The area representative guides and supports the new franchisee through training, buildout of their store, and beyond. “The area representative is required to be in the restaurant and do a profit-and-loss review every month," he says. "It’s about offering ongoing mentoring and support.” The company also holds an annual Firehouse Subs Family Reunion, which brings the executive team and franchisees together in Jacksonville, Florida, for a two-day business meeting. “The camaraderie is great,” Delks says. “We have family activities and discuss raising profits and other things to make the business better.”
Firehouse Subs is showing no sign of slowing down and is looking for owners in markets across the country and offers an aggressive development incentive in select markets. The company is also interested in growing its non-traditional restaurant footprint to include airports, military bases, and college campuses. Franchisees who want to join a company that will support them throughout their career should apply. “My franchisees are some of the best sales people in the world,” Delks says. “They’re one of our key ingredients for success.”
For more information about franchising opportunities with Firehouse Subs, visit www.FirehouseSubs.com
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