Healthy food franchises are a good fit with the times, but selecting the right type can be a tricky business, says Mark Kulkis
Despite the world of gourmet donut shops, cookie dough cafes and build-your-own burger bars that we live in, consumer trends continue to show us one thing: healthier food is in demand. That’s not to say that people aren’t looking forward to a sweet treat every now and then, but with future revenues predicted to rise into the billions, the booming health and wellness industries show no signs of fading out.
Because of that, there lies tremendous opportunity to enter into the health-conscious movement. But buyer beware, signing on with a food franchise that turns out to be just a passing fad can be extremely unhealthy – to your bank account! Figuring out which health-conscious food franchise you’re ready to take a bite out of is a critical step, so keep these things in mind when surveying your options.
Franchising doesn’t work for fads
Owning a franchise is all about sustainability and staying relevant, especially in a market that is dictated by consumer demands. Similar to the fashion and fitness industries, the health-food industry is notorious for fads – think the Atkins diet, raw juice bars and subscription meal services like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. Of course this doesn’t mean that the health-food industry is unfit for franchising, it just means that, as a potential franchise buyer, a bit of extra due-diligence is necessary in determining which concept is built for the long-term. To steer clear of a franchise “fad,” ask yourself: “Is the market growth too much too soon?” or “Is this franchise’s product/service a necessity?” If you find yourself hesitating on either of those questions, you may have found your answer.
Impress without excluding
Opening a vegan or vegetarian restaurant in your community can be a great way to stand out amongst other restaurant concepts, but while these types of restaurants may boast that “unique factor” you’re looking for, keep in mind that uniqueness may inevitably limit your general appeal. If you’re looking for a concept with broader appeal, you’ll want to consider a concept that fills a unique void in the market, but does so without excluding groups of people from a diet preference or financial standpoint.
But, with more people opting for vegan or vegetarian inspired diets, taking time to thoroughly research menu variety and flexibility in a franchise concept is more important than ever when determining a restaurant’s sustainability. So, while you may not be looking for an exclusively ‘vegan restaurant,’ the important thing to consider is making sure vegans, vegetarians and other diet-sensitive folks can eat at your restaurant, offering them a sufficient selection that will make them come back for more.
Focus on fast, fresh and feasible
Convenience, quality and affordability are just a few frequent consumer demands when deciding which restaurants to spend their money at. But it’s who is driving the industry that’s important, and teaming up with a concept that speaks loud and clear to this audience is absolutely key for short-term and long-term sustainability. While millennial consumers may be racking up criticism for contributing to the demise of full-service restaurants, they’re undoubtedly driving the steady rise in the fast-casual restaurant market.
With the market predicted to reach $66.9 billion by 2020, the kinds of restaurants that millennials want more of have also been identified. Over the past decade or so, restaurants have seen a growing demand for fresh and healthy salad options, locally-sourced ingredients, USDA-certified beef and all-natural lean chicken. And it’s the restaurants that take these consumer trends seriously, adapt best to their target consumers and withstand the test of time that are the ones who will hit the mark, proving worthy of your time and money.
Join the movement
If you’re looking to join the health-conscious food market, you’re not alone. But while it may be tempting to jump aboard the next foodie train, taking advantage of the latest Instagram-worthy food craze (we all remember cake pops and cronuts, right?), keep in mind that a franchise’s market potential boils down to its sustainability and ability to fulfil a real need. While a “flash in the pan” may sound sexy to a restaurant customer, you don’t want to end up being one as a franchisee!
5 consumer-driven trends to keep in mind
1. Locally-sourced ingredients: Use fresh, high quality meat, seafood and produce to help support local farms and reduce mass production reliance.
2. Environmental sustainability: Focus on foods that minimally impact the environment - more veggies and less meats - and eco-friendly to-go containers and utensils.
3. Diet-sensitive meal options: Accommodate restrictive diets by including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.
4. Veggie-centric meal options: A demand in reduced meat reliance is drawing popularity to meatless options like fresh salads, veggie-burgers and other vegetable substitutes.
5. Clean menus: All-natural ingredients and minimally-processed food demands are here to stay.
About the Author
Mark Kulkis is the CEO and founder of Chop Stop, a fast casual chopped salad chain founded in 2010 in Los Angeles. Known for its completely customizable signature chopped salads and Chopurrito™ bowls, Chop Stop’s mission is to provide guests nationwide with fresh, wholesome and filling meals that make living a healthier lifestyle practical and affordable. In addition to founding Chop Stop, Mark oversees the company’s franchise program, spearheading the company’s recent inititative to expand the franchise opportunity to additional Western U.S. states. Chop Stop has been franchising since 2015 and currently operates seven locations throughout Southern California. More information about Chop Stop’s franchise opportunity can be found by visiting www.chopstopfranchising.com.
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