Stone Payton: Welcome to Franchise Marketing Radio. Today's episode is brought to you in part by the Business RadioX Studio Partner program, equipping franchise owners to help franchisees dominate their local market. To learn more about serving your market and growing your business. Go to mybrxstudio.com. This is going to be a fantastic segment. Please join me in welcoming to the broadcast with Salad Station, Mr. John Mike Heroman. How are you, sir?
John Mike Heroman: Oh, good, good, good. How are you today?
Lee Kantor: We are doing well, John. Mark, before we get too far into things. Can you give us kind of a big picture overview of Salad Station? How are you serving, folks?
John Mike Heroman: Yeah. So Salad station, we got started in 2012 and we grew the company to seven stores. Corporate stores fundamentally were a soft serve salad concept where you would pay by the pound once you finish making the salad. So about two and a half years ago, we decided that we were going to start franchising. So we've gone from seven to now. We're at twenty four total locations open, hoping to get somewhere close to that 40 number by the end of this year. Was the plan and still going to try to make that the target? Yes, that's kind of an overview of who we are. We're big on family and providing opportunities for our franchisees to have a healthy concept and in their local communities that offers also some family friendly hours. And really, it's been a real successful run for us so far and I'm hoping to continue.
Lee Kantor: Now, can you talk about the genesis of the idea that I know it's kind of unusual that there's a founder and his mother combination here? Can you talk about that a little bit?
John Mike Heroman: Yeah, so I grew up with the family, the family has been in business in my local community, the little hometown of Ponchatoula, Louisiana, about 5000 people there. And so we are really proud. But just growing up, Scott's mom was always admired by the locals there. She has had for the last 25 years. She's had a producer in which there's a lot more than just Celebrative. She's found all kinds of clever ways and products to bring down a little marketplace there. And so their background growing up was the little market there where they have the fruits and vegetables. And so understanding that as part of her background and then the sons got out of high school, most of us went to college and it was right, the entrepreneurial early on. And when I started a restaurant and so seven or eight years into battling the full service restaurant, him and his mom got together and really came up with just a wonderful model of a less labor intensive, sallied restaurant opportunity that kind of combined both of their their past and what they were doing previously with Scott in the restaurant, the mom with the produce. And it's really just been a wonderful combination to watch them work together and be together every day.
Lee Kantor: Now, is that part of why families are so important in the model?
John Mike Heroman: Yeah, I think, you know, Cindy, you know, every day that Scott grew up, it was Cindy and the dad, Mr. Ronnie. They've worked together side by side, running their businesses, the children. Scott's the oldest of three and every day where, you know, most families are getting off the bus, coming home, doing homework, going out to play their world was they go back with mom and dad and they'd work the family business. And still to this day, the entire family, the mother, father and the three children all still show up at the same place and are working together. And that's really unique. And so what you see is you see it just overflowing into what the salad station is. You just feel that presence in that family priority. You feel that you're not in our business. And our franchisees feel that as well. Hopefully the customers due to we like to think they do.
Lee Kantor: Now, are your franchisee's people who are kind of family businesses as well?
John Mike Heroman: You know, it's really interesting, our model, our concept, we are closed on Sundays and we believe that is a day for family and a day of rest. And so, truthfully, the type of people that we've attracted as a result of the core of who the family is with, what their values are, the people that really get excited most about solicitation are ones that have those same values and that want to have a family business, want to give their community a healthy option and at the end of the day, have the same priorities that we do. So, yes, I think the family has done an excellent job of finding people like minded. And because we've been able to see that same culture in each and every one of our restaurants.
Lee Kantor: And how was the transition to go from owner operated to a franchise, because those are kind of two different businesses. One is based on, you know, I got to get more people in the restaurant. And when you're a franchise owner, it's now about serving and supporting these existing entrepreneurs and business owners in their local market.
John Mike Heroman: Yeah. So I think that is an excellent question. And I think it is not necessarily an easy one to answer or just this way is the only way. But the way that the family felt and myself when I was coming on board is that we saw the value at the marketplace. So we saw that when the that our customers or potential customers where we were opened up, these restaurants were looking for a quick, healthy, convenient option, whether it was for lunchtime, a little break from work and run over and grab a salad or even in time trying to figure out a way to eat healthier. And so fundamentally, we knew that customers were looking for what salad station was offering. And so then we have to decide, are we going to continue to manage these stores ourselves? Or so you're trying to figure out what's the best way to continue opening stores. And when we looked at it, the decision was really easy for us because we saw an opportunity to provide a franchise option for someone out there that was looking to open a business, whether it's a husband, wife or husband work. The mom, the wife are looking for a way to be an entrepreneur, figure out more time with their children and how she can, you know, be with the kids in the morning and the kids get out of school. And so when you look at where our busy spots are during the week and then we're closed on Sundays, we thought this option really would play well. The franchise market, those people were looking for business opportunities and becoming entrepreneurial, that, you know, a family that has the same priorities that we do, this would be something that would really benefit them. And at the customer level, we've already proven and we'll continue to prove that customers are looking for this option. And so the best business model that we saw going forward was to create a franchise or a concept that would offer the franchise the offering. And it's about the best way I can describe it, I think.
Lee Kantor: So now when a person decides to, you know, go down the salad station path and open one up in their market, what kind of support and systems do you have to kind of help them launch it, help them get going?
John Mike Heroman: Yes, so we've been very, very fortunate, a pair of past experience with the franchise or concept, we've been able our director of operations high level has had a lot of experience with other franchises or concepts. And so the family did a wonderful job of just kind of going outside and figuring out who could help them understand what their responsibilities need to be and how this relationship would be best suited and how they could to accomplish their goals by ensuring that we're providing wonderful customer service, fresh, healthy option at the customer level, but had to do that with the relationship of a franchisee franchisor level. So I can tell you this, the family's background is Cindy. Her parents were produce farmers and the form still exists today. And so their background is their formers at heart is what I would say. And you're not going to find any that would outwork them. And so it's a combination of them being willing to just work. Unbelievable hours put so much time and dedication into the salad station. And then that translates into they've got they've hired, my opinion, some wonderful people to help provide the support that the franchisees would need. And from an operational standpoint, most of our franchisees were not restaurant owners before the restaurant, something totally new to them. And they've all been able to translate into being a salad station owner and in my opinion, have had great success. And I think that stems from the hard work from the family and their willingness to go out and find a great staff to help them put the process and procedures in place to build a franchise or a company.
Lee Kantor: What do you think are the most important qualities of a successful franchisee? Is it that kind of person that's immersed in the community? You mentioned that a lot of the current franchisees don't have a lot of restaurant experience, but is that something that would be nice to have if they had that? Or do they have access to some of the local farmers and their market? Like what are some of the qualities you would like to see in a successful franchisee?
John Mike Heroman: I think I think there are some some added bonuses, I think if you're born and raised in the community that you're opening a business in and I don't I think in whatever business you would go into, I think there's definitely an added bonus there and an advantage there in terms of being intertwined. And, you know, the local farming, to me, that would be a bonus as well. But, you know, on our end, what we're really looking for is we're looking for good hearted people that want to work hard, want to serve their community and want to do what's right day in, day out and provide this healthy option to their customers and to their community. And that's really kind of what we're looking for. I don't know how to sum it up any more than that. It's something that we've been very fortunate to do. The group that we have now are very like minded in those ways. And I think I think we'll continue to try to find those same types of people.
Lee Kantor: If you're just joining us, you're listening to Franchise Marketing Radio. Our guest today is John Mike Hiraman with Salad Station, John Mike Stone Payton here. Have you found a certain tool or set of tools more effective than others in terms of just getting the word out about the salad station opportunity?
John Mike Heroman: Being on your show hopefully helped us do that somewhere where there's somebody out there listening, it may be a good idea, but yeah, no, we're constantly trying to be creative. We're still a relatively young franchise franchise or most of our franchises pay. All of our franchisees were customers first and saw the model and at one of our restaurants and realized, man, this would really do well in my community. And then they would inquire and go through that process. But I think, yeah, just trying to figure out the best way to go to to the new markets and find these like minded people who are looking for these type of opportunities, that that is that there's something I would say we've not totally figured out on our end and are eager to present the brand because we feel like we do have something that's very unique and very special in terms of the opportunity. And when you look at the lower cost in terms of restaurants, the less from a labor standpoint. We don't have the same labor a normal restaurant has. We don't have the same restaurant experience. We're not cooking the food. We're not preparing the food. So I think I think yeah, I think we would be we're still trying to figure out the best approach now on how we find people in these markets that we want to be in. And I think there'll be some organic growth that'll continue. But at this point, we're very confident about what we're doing and would like to get a little more aggressive there.
Lee Kantor: Now, for somebody who is interested in becoming a franchisee, can you walk me through what that process looks like if they were interested in joining the salad station network?
John Mike Heroman: Yeah, so pretty simple for our website, substation's our desalinization dot com and it's plural, and we've got a franchise segment on that website and it's got a real quick question there. Just a little information. Send it in and more than likely get a phone call from me pretty quickly. And at that point, we would start the process of, you know, a simple questionnaire, couple interviews, just kind of getting an idea of who they are, what they're looking for. Make sure we're the right fit for them. And going forward, we can qualify them on our own. And it's inviting them out to a Discovery Day, a chance to meet myself. Scott Anderson, the founders of our corporate team, take a behind the scenes look at one of our restaurants, meet the management there and just try to get an idea again, like, all we're trying to do is, is we're wanting to make sure that it's the right match on our own, but also the right match on the franchisee. And so walk us through that process. We've come out of Discovery Day. If things are still a go on both sides, we'd want to have one last final kind of interview with the witness, Cindy and Scott, just to make sure again that this is the right match and everybody approves coming out of that meeting, then, yeah, we'll sign a contract, granted territory and get moving on, building up their south station.
Lee Kantor: Now, the territories right now, you mentioned it sounds like you started out in smaller towns, not big, major metropolitan areas. Is that the target as well as you move forward?
John Mike Heroman: Yes, sir. Well, I'd say on in terms of where we're looking to go, we feel like our offering plays well in any market, whether that's a small rural sized commuter town or whether that's in New Orleans or Baton Rouge or Houston type town, we we feel like there's a there's a need for what our offering is as long as our demographic requirements, as long as we see that there's enough people that would be looking for this type of opportunity at a customer level. Are there then? Yeah, we feel comfortable going into any market.
Lee Kantor: Now, are you looking at the franchisee being kind of an owner operator or is it something that eventually can be handed off and you can kind of build an empire around your area if you do this properly?
John Mike Heroman: Yeah, so we think there's two there's really two types of franchises that we see kind of going forward. The first is, you know, it is going to be the owner operator. And we think there are some great advantages to being an owner operator of a south station. And on our end, it gives us comfort knowing that an owner would be in the store every day. And so we do like how that plays, but we also see that this is a scalable business in our opinion. And if you're the right type of operator that can manage multiples, which not everyone can do, but there are restaurant management groups out there that have proved that they can take other brands and manage multiples. And we would have that offering available as well. We would be a little more targeted on who we would allow to do that. We would want to see some experience there in order for us to feel comfortable. But that I think those are the two the two targets that we would we would see kind of going forward that, you know, the husband, wife and husband maybe still have their job looking for a wife, for a business to to oversee that would give them, you know, the income that they're looking for. And then also you know, the time with the children or the family that a service station can offer and then someone that really wants to scale and and manage multiples. Those are the two types of people that we see.
Lee Kantor: Well, John, Mike, thank you so much for sharing your story today. Again, for those who might be interested in learning more about the opportunity, the website
John Mike Heroman: The website is thesaladstations.com
Lee Kantor: thesaladstations with an S .com.
John Mike Heroman: Yes, sir.
Lee Kantor: Yeah, good stuff. Well, congratulations on all your success and best of luck in the future. Thank you for sharing your story today on Franchise Marketing Radio.
John Mike Heroman: Yeah, I appreciate you guys having me on. Thank you.
Lee Kantor: All right. This is Lee Kantor for Stone Payton. We will see you all next time on Franchise Marketing Radio.