What word comes to mind when you think “salad”? Fresh? Crisp? Delicious? Healthy? You’ll find all that and more in a concept called Salad Creations, out of Margate, Florida.
Salad Creations has everything you’ve been looking for in a Food franchise opportunity. They have been in business for several years and Franchising for over a year with 8 units in operation and 23 Franchises sold.
What makes Salad Creations popular with customers also makes it a wonderful opportunity. It’s a fun business, easy to run, and offers a healthy alternative to the usual quick lunch options – just what people have been looking for!
Jeff Levine, president of Salad Creations, says the shops can be as small as the 250 sq ft kiosks they have open in several malls, to the 700 sq ft in-line store in South Beach or even larger. Customers are served quickly, usually within six minutes. “Our colors are bright greens, oranges and reds which convey a feeling of high-energy,” says Levine. The salad preparations are done by salad chefs so the area is always clean and sanitary.
“The ingredients we use are super fresh,” says Levine, “and we keep our three varieties of lettuce in a crisper. The food is delivered by a national supplier and the franchisee will learn what to order so that waste is very minimal. We’ve worked long and hard to make this business foolproof.
“Our customers,” says Levine, “are highly educated people who care about what they are eating and are willing to spend more for fresh food. They love the flavor and freshness of our food and quickly become repeat customers. Portions are large and the comment customers always make is that they feel they get their money’s worth.”
The Salad Creations menu has many featured salads but also offers customers the option of creating their own salad by choosing the ingredients (from around 60 toppings) including savory homemade dressings that Levine says were specifically created for Salad Creations. The create-your-own option is the most popular and comprises about 80% o the salad sales. Other menu items include wraps, soups and smoothies.
An important “ingredient” to the Salad Creations concept is that the salad chefs are not mere food servers. Instead these chefs become entertainers and flamboyant, high-energy personalities are a must. “A big element of show business comes through in the way our chefs interact with guests,” says Levine. “They ‘touch’ the customer for only a short time but must understand what the customer wants and then give them a great experience. Customer service is a huge part of our business.
“In fact,” adds Levine, “we select our chefs by using a physiological profile to determine those people who will do well in this position. It’s been incredible how well this has worked. Everyone who scored high on this test has been an excellent addition to their store. This is a fantastic tool we have to offer our franchisees.
Our concept involves a process, “adds Levine, “and the salad chef’s job is to be the guests’ guide and help them walk through the process of selecting the items they want. Our frequency numbers are incredible because we build such a loyal customer base. We have customers who will eat in our Restaurant four to five days a week and 20-30% o our customers will come in at least three times a week.”
Another plus for customers is that they can make their Salad Creations’ meal just what they want by selecting low-fat or low-carb options as they desire. There are also many protein options for the customer who desires a hearty salad. “We draw people of all ages, says Levine, “and we find our customer base is equally divided between men and women. This is a concept that appeals to everyone who likes great food.”
An advantage for franchisees is that the Salad Creations store needs no expensive equipment like vent hoods or grease traps. “Our stores are comparatively inexpensive to start up because of the small space needed and because we don’t cook anything,” says Levine. “Our startup range is $115,000 to $215,000 but we’ve had franchisees who opened their business for less. Our average location only requires about seven employees.
“We’re in the process of rolling out our Area Development program,” says Levine. “We think this concept will work all over the country. Our current franchisees are intelligent, aggressive and experienced. In fact, a number of our franchisees have come from other food franchises. We’re looking for very high-energy people, preferably with prior restaurant or Franchise experience, and who understand what the consumer today really wants.”
New franchisees go through a 12 day training program in Ft. Lauderdale called Salad 101 to learn all aspects of the restaurant operations including how to test, select and train the salad chefs. Salad Creations offers extensive marketing help, including a grand opening package and a local marketing plan. Through direct mail programs, new customers are enticed to try Salad Creations with frequent diner cards and free salad cards.
“At Salad Creations, we’ve worked long and hard to make this opportunity an easy and profitable experience for franchisees,” says Levine. “Our staff has years and years of food franchise experience and we’re ready to work with people interested in joining a team that is poised to take this concept throughout the country. The bottom line is that we are providing a product that people want.”
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