Saladworks’ new chief executive brings more than 30 years of experience to the role. On August 1, Kelly Roddy stepped into the position at the health-focused brand. The former Schlotzsky’s president thinks Saladworks all of the right pieces to grow in its core Northeast market as well as break into new ones.

Saladworks is on trend with current consumer demands for healthy and customizable options, Roddy says. And has been since 1986.

“I think we’re ahead [of other brands] to be honest, which is again, why I think the brand has so much opportunity,” he says. “It’s sort of a no-brainer.”

The customizability of the menu not only attracts health-conscious diners, but those toying with the notion as well. “You can make it as healthy or decadent as you want,” Roddy says.

Saladworks’ current footprint is comprised of about 100 locations and is highly focused in the Northeast. The brand plans to open another 20 locations by the end of 2019. That would represent a roughly 20 percent jump in unit count. Roddy says that number will bump even higher to 30 percent in 2020. 

“I think we are in good shape,” he says. “So now it’s taking what is what I believe to be a well-positioned brand and really focus on growth.” 

Roddy plans to leverage Saladworks’ strong franchise network, while adding new franchisees to build out its footprint. Interest is strong in the brand, he says, with 65 inquiries about franchising opportunities in the last week alone. 

Along with franchise locations, the brand plans to grow on the corporate side, too—seven to eight in 2019. Over the next few years, Roddy estimates the breakdown of growth will be 25 percent existing franchisees, 25 percent company-owned, and 50 percent new franchisees. 

“The brand has focused on kind of core basics for the last few years and hasn’t really focused on growth,” he says. “So, I think it’s well positioned for tremendous growth.”

Saladworks has already opened in markets outside its core. A second location in Atlanta will debut this fall followed by an opening in Colorado Springs, Denver, and Charlotte, North Carolina. “I’m a big fan of focusing on filling out the markets we’re in,” Roddy says. “I think that’s a good idea to expand inside those markets.”

In 2016, Saladworks rolled out a new store design and refreshed look. An updated logo accompanied the design in an effort to re-engage customers while attracting new franchisees. The smaller footprint is more efficient and cost effective. Roddy says the brand continues to look for ways to cut down costs of build outs and make stores more sustainable. 

The new model was well received. Now the brand is making sure its technology is up to date and meets the standards franchisees need to succeed. Saladworks worked with third-party delivery services, like Uber Eats, Grubhub, and DoorDash, to integrate their technology into restaurants. The overall goal is “to make it easier for the guest to have access to our product,” Roddy says. 

Saladworks’ technology is in a good place, he says, but there is always room for improvement. The team is currently working to integrate the brand’s online ordering tool into its app—the first step in improving its digital presence. 

“We’re going to work on making it a focus of mind to make it better,” Roddy says. “And I expect that our digital sales will increase dramatically in the next 12 months.”

And unlike other brands who are trying take-out and delivery for the first time, Saladworks has sold salads to-go for decades. It doesn’t have to deal with experimenting with packaging and finding the right way to get the product to customers. 

“It has to be a great product when it gets to the customer,” Roddy says. “I think our packaging is probably pretty good for salads.”

Customer Experience, Design, Emerging Concepts, Employee Management, Fast Casual, Franchising, Menu Innovations, Ordering, Restaurant Operations, Story, Technology, Saladworks