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Can Fast Food be Healthy? One Franchise is Proving the Point and Profiting

Freshii is fast food’s new green machine.

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Matthew Corrin

Forays into healthy fast food have led to some of the restaurant industry’s most embarrassing failures (see McDonald’s McLean Deluxe, Burger King’s Satisfries and Pizza Hut’s The Natural). The common wisdom is that when consumers want something quick, they want it salty, fatty, cheesy, sugary or any combination thereof.

Related: How Triggerfish is Putting SA on the Animation Map

Accordingly, when Matthew Corrin began searching for healthful, convenient food while working long hours for Oscar de la Renta back in 2004, he had low expectations. But he was pleasantly surprised.

“I kind of became obsessed with these mom-and-pop delis,” he says. “They had these really good fresh-food bars. They had no focus on branding or advertising themselves as having fresh, healthy food, but they were great.”

The notion that people in other cities might be searching for similar healthy options led Corrin to launch Freshii in 2005. With zero food-service experience, he opened his first unit in Toronto. Within two years, he had nine stores and began franchising. Now the concept is growing at breakneck speed, with more than 160 units in 12 countries and 120 more in the pipeline for 2015.

The secret, Corrin says, is that Freshii isn’t tinkering with burgers or subs to make them more healthful. Instead, the company offers salads, wraps, rice bowls and soups that can be customised using sauces, spices, proteins and healthy fats like avocados and walnuts to add flavour.

Not that too many menu items need modifying – options like the Buffalo Salad, Teriyaki Twist Bowl and Thai Lemongrass Burrito are already pretty well-designed.

Corrin believes Freshii succeeds because it hits a sweet spot with younger consumers. “Increasingly, our customers and franchisees are Millennials, which are a great target demographic,” he says.

“They really care about the triple bottom line – people, planet and profits. We feed half a million people per year in Kenya through the sale of our reusable green bowls. Giving back really resonates with our customers and franchise partners.”

That Millennial appeal has enabled Freshii to become a global brand. “The conversation about how to live healthy is happening among young people in Colombia, in Sweden and across the world. And that’s really cool,” Corrin says.

“The Millennial generation everywhere has similar views, and they’re constantly communicating those views in real time.”

Their tastes are changing in real time, too. That’s why Freshii constantly evolves its menu. “Today, we serve kale and quinoa,” Corrin says. “Ten years ago it was all brown rice and spinach. And 10 years from now it will be different.”

Related: 7 Unexpected Signs You Might Be an Entrepreneur

But Corrin’s mission is to expand beyond a niche healthful-food market. He points out that Freshii has grown faster than Starbucks, McDonald’s and Subway did in their first years, and he doesn’t see why his concept can’t be as ubiquitous as those brands.

“There’s no reason we can’t be global leaders as long as the trend for healthy eating stays on pace and as long as we can execute,” he says. “We have a business model that’s as attractive as brands with thousands of locations.”

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Jason Daley is a writer and editor specializing in natural history, the environment, science, and travel. He writes regularly for national magazines including Discover, Outside, Popular Science, Wired, Men's Journal, Reader's Digest, Best Life, Skiing, and In-Fisherman.

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Franchising Sector – The Year That Was

Morne Cronje, Head of Franchising at FNB Business agrees that even in what is said to be tough year, South Africa has managed to attract global franchise brands.

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2017 Has been a year fraught with challenges for both consumers and business alike. South Africa has however remained an eye-catching destination for international brands looking to expand their businesses; none show this more than franchising in South Africa.

Morne Cronje, Head of Franchising at FNB Business agrees that even in what is said to be tough year, South Africa has managed to attract global franchise brands.

“A recent example of a global franchise brand coming into South Africa is Popeye’s, an American brand best known for its spicy Chicken. They launched here in July 2017. That is on the back of Krispy Kreme and Burger King having recently launched too – even with our challenges, we still offer growth opportunities to global entities.”

Related: Krispy Kreme Remains Triumphant Despite The Strain Of International Brands In The Local South African Market

Cronje shares key take outs from the year that was in franchising:

More clothing & fast-food brands

Retail franchising continued to grow in 2017. Over the past few years, we have seen more global brands like Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts, Pizza Hut, Krispy Kreme, Dominos, Starbucks and clothing brand Cotton opening their stores in South Africa.

Growth in quick-service restaurant segment

People still value a restaurant experience. Consumers, though looking for convenience and reasonable options, still value the idea of sitting and enjoying a meal in the traditional sense. More businesses have now jumped on this bandwagon and we are starting to see more and more that fast food spaces are also playing in the “sit-and-serve” space.

Use of Online and digital channels

More franchises have embraced online and mobile methods technology to reach their customers faster, easier and relatively cheaper than the usual above the line approach. We are also seeing businesses receiving online orders from their own or third party apps which enable the consumer to order from wherever they are and whenever they want to.

Related: (Watch) Make Krispy Kreme Happen

Value for money

In these tough economic times, consumers will continue to ask why they should spend money in your business. If businesses ignore this, consumers are likely to shift their attention to competitors.

“As we wrapped up 2017, it is important for the franchising sector to reflect on the trends that shaped the year that was. In my view, franchising remains one of the key sectors that will continue to grow steadily despite the slow growth environment. This is a trend that we have been monitoring without fail over the past years,” concludes Cronje.

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Nando’s Adopts Technology; Focuses On Food & Funny

Without a secure failover, erratic fixed line connectivity can cause havoc, especially in the high-demand, fast-paced fast food sector.

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Without a secure failover, erratic fixed line connectivity can cause havoc, especially in the high-demand, fast-paced fast food sector. As the name suggests, the expectation is that both the food and service are delivered quickly, and at a standardised (high) level of quality. 

Modern customers require modern restaurants. As smart technology becomes the norm, diners expect reliable, high-speed networks and communications solutions, especially in the fast-food environment. These contemporary restaurants must, therefore, offer reliable POS systems and dependable back-office administrative support. In order to deliver on these requirements, a stable network is required.

“For Nando’s, downtime means an unreliable Point-of-Sale (POS), lost revenue and a frustrated customer base,” advises Sugan Ganasen, Cradlepoint Lead: Ingram Micro Southern Africa. The beloved fast-food franchise started in 1987, with the first restaurant opening in Rosettenville, Johannesburg.

“With a broad footprint of over 1 000 franchises across the globe, and 259 branches in South Africa alone, sending customers away because the POS isn’t working simply isn’t an option.”

Related: (Watch) Why Nando’s Is Clucking Its Way To The Top

According to Stephen Brookstein, Nando’s Head of Technology: South Africa and EMEA; “Nando’s is 30 years young, and facing the same challenges as all business in the local market. Stability is the key to offering customers a better experience, and this requires an integration of technology.”

In South Africa, the pace of work is at an all-time high. In the food and beverage industry, this means that downtime results in exponential losses, and reputational damage that may hinder relationships with a fickle consumer base. Whenever connectivity is interrupted, credit/cheque card payments cannot be accepted, and off-line card payments are particularly susceptible to fraud. With no secondary line for a failover connection, the required constant connection cannot be achieved.

“Customers expect to be able to make a card payment on a secure POS system, and our franchisees expect a constant connection. In a digital age, everything relies on internet access, and constant uptime must be achieved to deliver both productivity and profitability,” says John Sikiotis, Chief Strategy Officer and CFO: India, Middle East and Africa at Nando’s.

“As such, our business needs include full failover capability, centrally managed software, improved response to communication issues experienced at restaurant level, enhanced security and PCI compliance – all delivered in a scalable manner across the continent.”

After much market research and a comparison of the solutions available, Nando’s deployed Cradlepoint’s AER2100 and NetCloud Manager, supported by Infoprotect. This delivered reliable 99 percent uptime across all Nando’s restaurants in South Africa, guaranteeing that sales are never lost and customers are always satisfied.

“Nando’s selected a countrywide store advanced offering, which ensures that each store is fitted with a Cradlepoint AER2100,” confirms Ganasan. This solution is a new generation, cloud-managed 3G networking device that helps Nando’s to increase bandwidth and achieve four-nines reliability in a secure, flexible, and open-architecture platform. The AER2100 operates as the primary connection, with a cellular modem and dual sim capability.

Implemented by Infoprotect, offering managed IT solutions, data usage is centrally managed, monitored and controlled using the NetCloud Manager (Enterprise Cloud Manager). “This enables Nando’s to deploy and dynamically manage networks at geographically-distributed stores and branch locations, improving productivity, reducing costs and enhancing the intelligence of the network and business operations,” advises Brad Fraser, Infoprotect’s CEO.

Related: Show Me The Funny

This monitors ADSL data usage and adds valuable business resiliency. According to Sikiotis; “The NetCloud Manager allows Infoprotect to perform remote diagnostics, upgrade firmware, and configure devices remotely. This means our restaurants enjoy better return on investment with optimised data usage, real-time monitoring, load-balancing and proactive usage alerts.”

The result is a scalable solution offering effective uptime, a primary and secondary network ensuring a constant connection, uninterrupted card transactions, constant uptime, data usage management, PCI compliance and security, automated support, configuration and monitoring, and sophisticated scalability. 

“These solutions were impeccably implemented within tight timelines, and have created a future upgrade path, ensuring minimal disruptions. The benefits offered speak for themselves,” concludes Sikiotis. “The cost-efficiencies realised include less downtime, more satisfied customers and less data breeches. Customers are satisfied and no sales losses are experienced due to offline POS systems. With this in mind, a reliable network and constant uptime offer a real cost saving solution.”

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Key Insights From The 2017 FNB Franchising Leadership Summit

South Africa’s exponential franchises took centre stage at the 6th edition of the annual FNB Franchising Leadership Summit held recently at Indaba Hotel in Fourways, Johannesburg.

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South Africa’s exponential franchises took centre stage at the 6th edition of the annual FNB Franchising Leadership Summit held recently at Indaba Hotel in Fourways, Johannesburg.

Themed “exponential growth”, the Summit coincides with the world-wide commemoration of Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), which celebrates the remarkable contribution of entrepreneurs to the global economy. The 2017 Summit focused on unpacking four perspectives of exponential growth, namely: entrepreneurship, brand, employment and personal growth.

Related: To Buy Into A Franchise Or Purchase A Licence? 3 Factors To Consider

Mike Vacy-Lyle, CEO of FNB Business, says, “The franchising sector has some great examples of businesses demonstrating exponential growth like the success story of unique local brands such as RocoMamas. The franchising sector is remarkably resilient and should be celebrated, hence we felt it was important to use Global Entrepreneurship Week to highlight the contribution of this sector to our economy.”

“As a bank which values the role of entrepreneurs, we are delighted to have provided a platform to the people leading some of South Africa’s world-class franchises to relay their first-hand account of what it takes to build a successful business,” adds Vacy Lyle.

Among the key insights that were shared at the Summit was the need for businesses to deeply understand customer needs and to consistently differentiate themselves. Brian Altriche, Founder of RocoMamas shed light on building honest brands.

“People know when something is a fake; you can push it to them for a while but in the end they catch on. In today’s world, brands need to be built on the premise that I am offering what you expect to receive when you read my communication and this is the main thing with digital. The consumer is the one that drives the conversation and people do not complain for the sake of it. Therefore, brands that meet the consumer’s expectations are the ones that will continue to win.”

Related: 3 Factors To Focus On When Opening Your First Franchise

Gerry Thomas, Managing Director for Krispy Kreme South Africa is of the view that franchises grow exponentially because they have a key market differentiator as a driving force. Furthermore, Thomas believes that winning business formulas create a “need” as opposed to a “want”.

“Exponential franchises are constantly looking for new concepts and innovative ways to make things faster, easier and better. These businesses are not scared to take risks and break with old traditional ways of doing things. Businesses that are embracing this way of thinking will always be miles ahead. We are excited with the incredible success of this year’s Summit and are looking forward to continued involvement by FNB Business in helping to grow this important sector,” concludes Vacy-Lyle.

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