Three food service franchises that help Canadians stay healthy by eating well
By Georgie Binks
Throughout the past year, Canadians have been taking extra precautions to keep themselves and their families safe from COVID-19. Wearing a mask, washing your hands frequently, and avoiding close contact with others is one way to protect yourself. But at the heart of a healthy body is being conscious about the foods that nourish you.
Fortunately, healthy foods can be both nutritious and delicious (there’s a reason why they rhyme!) and these unique food franchises have positioned themselves in a market where people take great care about what they eat.
Here, Franchise Canada explores three healthy food franchises that provide freshly prepared breakfast, lunch, juices, snacks, and more to Canadians across the country.
When Dale Wishewan, president and CEO, started Booster Juice in 1999 in Sherwood Park, Alberta, he never could have known what a wildly successful company he was creating. Booster Juice was one of the first companies to specialize in premium smoothies, juices, and healthy alternatives to fast food.
“The franchise is unique in having some of the very first products brought to Canada with superfoods like açai and matcha green tea, wheatgrass, and other healthy products before they’d become mainstream,” says Wishewan. “We are innovators in the QSR sector.”
He says it’s vital that Canadians focus on health and nutrition at this time. “It’s so important to fuel our bodies in the right way and our products have provided incredible testimonials from customers on how they feel from consuming Booster Juice. The proper nourishing of our bodies helps build up our immune systems and provides much needed energy.”
When COVID-19 hit, Wishewan says the company acted fast to implement extra procedures in stores to ensure staff and customer safety. “It’s been very nice to be open for Canadians during this pandemic to keep their immune systems strong.”
To help franchisees during the pandemic, the franchise reduced royalties for a period of time and stopped collecting on the franchise’s national marketing fund.
Going forward after the pandemic, Wishewan says Booster Juice will continue to build off of a strong store base with its inspiring franchise partners. The brand has opened 10 stores in the past six months and still has what he calls “incredible demand” from customers and new franchise partners wanting stores in their respective areas.
The benefits of the franchise are the ease of operations and working with clean products. “The extra procedures have created extra work but still being able to provide Booster Juice to loyal customers greatly outweighs the challenge that comes with it,” says Wishewan.
He adds that franchising has given the company a chance to share its products with many Canadians sooner. “To be in every province and territory is very rewarding, knowing we’ve reached all Canadians.”
The ideal franchisee has a passion for health and wellness, enjoys customer service, and has a drive to be successful. Continuous support is provided by video and memos, as well as individual store visits by the operations team.
And the secret to finding success with a Booster Juice franchise? Stay positive, work hard, and provide great customer service, says Wishewan.
There’s nothing nicer than finishing off a morning of work or studying and heading downstairs for a healthy lunch – all the better if someone else has made it for you.
Naveen Seth, CEO of La Prep, which has locations based primarily in office towers, universities, and hospitals across Canada, says, “People have become more educated about what they should be putting into their bodies. At La Prep, we focus on healthier alternatives but also give people a choice about indulging.”
Seth explains the system’s concept as an upscale European café bistro. “It’s about serving healthier alternatives to people – freshly prepared salads, sandwiches, and freshly baked goods.”
Based in Ontario, Seth became involved as a master franchisor for the concept back in 2000. The franchise, formerly known as Café Supreme, rebranded in 2010 to La Prep. He then opened 35 restaurants under the new name, buying out the entire brand in 2017.
While Seth has no background in the healthy food industry, he loves food. And he considered the franchise a great healthy alternative for office workers and students at lunchtime.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. “I always felt our concept was recession proof,” explains Seth. “No matter what happened, our sales increased. When people lost their jobs, they looked at franchising. COVID-19 taught us one thing – it’s not the case.”
Because 95 per cent of franchise locations are based out of offices and universities, everything was forced to temporarily shut down. As of May 1, 2021, 70 per cent of locations are still closed.
During the pandemic, the franchise has been helping franchisees with royalties, landlords, and staying up to date with and applying for government programs. As a company, franchisors rely on royalties and rebates. But with businesses shut down, there are none. “We’ve been pouring in our own cash flow to provide support to the franchise system, while exploring new ways to assist franchisees in generating income.”
Going forward, Seth isn’t convinced everyone will return to the office in the short term. “People are working at home and we’re looking at delivery options, a meal program where monthly meals are delivered to you. We’re looking at every possibility to help our franchisees become successful.” He adds that to increase revenue, the company is considering launching a virtual kitchen concept through its existing La Prep locations and increasing its street front presence.
The company offers a five-week training program and an opportunity to own your own business, with reasonable hours that provide a good work-life balance.
Ideal franchisees should have business knowledge and a passion for food. “[Our franchisees] get excited that they’re serving good quality food,” says Seth.
PÜR & SIMPLE
“We’ve basically made breakfast sexy again,” boasts Ritou Maloni, president and COO of Eat It Brands, which owns PÜR & SIMPLE, the successful breakfast, brunch, and lunch experience. “It’s Breakfast Reinvented™. We wanted to elevate the breakfast and brunch experience and create a modern design that was inviting for all, whether it’s an outing for the family, a couple’s time together, or even a business meeting. Not to mention we wanted to take the greasiness out of breakfast and add a ‘wow’ factor to it.”
PÜR & SIMPLE started with a test location in Laval, Quebec in 2016. Then in 2018, the company started franchising in Moncton, New Brunswick. Now the franchise has 16 locations up and running with close to 30 sold, but due to the pandemic, they’re currently unable to open some of them. However, “Even despite all the challenges facing the restaurant industry during COVID-19, we opened six new locations and have at least five more opening by the end of 2021,” says Maloni.
“The biggest challenge is taking our business model, which is face-to-face contact with our guests and having the ability to provide a personalized dining experience and transforming it, to now having to interact with them through online ordering portals and third-party delivery drivers. Creating affinity with our guests and providing hospitality is what we pride ourselves on, and creating memorable dine-in experiences has been taken away in most provinces,” explains Maloni.
She also says the company has been on a constant emotional rollercoaster, dealing with different rules across the country during the pandemic. “We’re given 24 hours notice to shut down and 24 hours notice to open back up. This creates a huge whirlwind of difficulties, not just providing the proper quality, consistency, and hospitality, but also building a team that has stability and synergy.”
The franchise has added three new team members during the pandemic to support their franchise partners. “We are extremely lucky because our franchise partners are extremely sharp and resilient. They have gone through their share of hard times, but have never given up. They believe in the brand.”
“Moving forward, our brand will be spectacular,” adds Maloni. “I think we’re going to come out of this pandemic stronger than ever. We have a winning formula. The design of our restaurants creates a warm vibe. They’ll be a place where people will gather, feel safe, and have a great time. We also launched our brand-new menu in June. It has a lot of new and exciting plates, a cocktail menu with refreshing new spirits and drinks, and we’ve partnered with Nespresso for a coffee menu with added finesse.”
PÜR & SIMPLE franchisees benefit from flexible hours with evenings to themselves. Franchises are located mostly in suburban locations where rents are affordable. Training is three weeks pre-opening, then three weeks on-site during opening.
The most important characteristic in franchisees is their desire to be successful, explains Maloni. “If they take care of every one of their guests, they will be successful.”