For more than 25 years, Saladworks has been synonymous with made-to-order, guilt-free gourmet options served fast in the Mid-Atlantic states. Emboldened by a record-breaking year in 2011, which saw strong increases in franchise unit expansion, comparable and year-over-year store sales growth, Saladworks has now transformed from a regional sensation to a national and international franchise powerhouse.
Case in point: Saladworks generated more than $68 million in total revenue, which represents a 10.7 percent increase in year-over-year sales and a 6.8 percent increase in comparative store sales, and awarded 23 new single and multiple unit franchise agreements in 2011. Moreover, these agreements represent 73 future restaurants to be developed outside its core market over the next five years, including the company’s first international footprint in Singapore.
However this success did not come overnight. “We have taken the time and careful steps to perfect this model over the last number of years,” says founder and CEO John Scardapane. “When I opened the first location in the food court of a small shopping mall in southern New Jersey, I could have never envisioned Saladworks locations opening in Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, or Washington, let alone 10,000 air miles away in Singapore. This success is a testament to the brand and illustrates that having a healthy substitute in the fast-casual marketplace has gone from trend to standard everywhere.”
Aside from being the healthy alternative to the typical hamburger, pizza, or chicken franchise, what makes the Saladworks brand so transferable in scope to the palate of the end customer is its menu, since at Saladworks, the menu adapts to the customer. “Our customers love the customizability of our salad case, which provides 52 fresh ingredients with which to create their own signature salads or wraps,” Scardapane says.
While the development of the brand in new geographies is important, Scardapane notes that the true success of the franchise is not measured by the number of franchised outlets but by the success of each individual franchise location. “Development for development’s sake is a bit silly. The goal should really be to partner with great people who share a common vision for the Saladworks brand, and then provide them with the support they need to be successful,” Scardapane says. “If past is prologue, franchisees form the bedrock of any great franchise system.”
To that end, and since the majority of new franchisees have little restaurant or business ownership experience, Saladworks provides full pre- and post-opening support from inception of the franchise agreement through grand opening and beyond to help ensure long-term brand sustainability and success. Pre-opening support includes site selection services, design and construction assistance, and an initial five-week training program that covers all aspects of operating a Saladworks restaurant.
After Saladworks opens a location, support continues. With one business coach for every 35 locations, a ratio almost 30 percent better than the industry average, franchisees have expert assistance anytime the need arises. Scardapane and his team travel together twice a month and visit every Saladworks location to continue to improve relations and communication with franchisees. The team and the franchisees have open dialogue about operations, marketing, new product development, and the company’s strategy.
“It’s always an incredibly productive time that provides strong feedback for our home office staff,” Scardapane says. “With strong sales, we know it works.”
Saladworks’ commitment to invest in this infrastructure has turned a salad-first concept with humble beginnings in to a national and international franchising phenomenon.
For more information about franchising opportunities with Saladworks, visit www.saladworks.com.