How I made the leap into managing a Franchise… and why Salad Box?

by Chris Harper, Business Development Director, Salad Box Bulgaria

 Publish date: 15 June 2018



After working +20 years at the sharp end of Retail Management, I decided that I needed a new challenge.

Having always worked in the corporate sector, delivering profit and enhancing brand standards for someone else, I felt that I was missing my calling as to what I could really achieve, both in business and in life!


Working previously in this high pressure environment had taught me many great skills and behaviors. From technical skills including management, product presentation standards, operational excellence, risk management, marketing prowess and of course recognizing customer buying habits and delivering an exceptional customer experience. The behavioral skills learnt over this period are even more critical in my opinion: leadership, motivation, professionalism, coaching, strategy and vision setting to name but a few.

And then there are those characteristics that are in your DNA. Passion, drive, purpose, strong morals, empathy and a genuine care for the people you serve. It was these that were driving me into a different direction…………


The Decision

I believed that I was ready to use all the skills I had learnt over the years to make a more tangible difference. I felt a strong desire to prove I could lead my own business and this was my starting point.

I was ready to leave the corporate world behind……….


Do I go it alone?

However……no man is an island! And I have the humility to know that I don’t have all the answers and need to continue to be a lifelong learner! Thankfully I didn’t have to look too hard. Enter my Bulgarian business partner, Svetoslav Tsekov. A great friend and a respected colleague. Yin to my Yang! He filled the gaps in my knowledge and expertise and I did the same for him. But CRUCIALLY, we have the same North Star around our beliefs in people, our morals and our attitudes to ensuring the customer is always our priority. As individuals, we are very strong, as a Partnership we are unbreakable!


Why a Franchise?

So why not go alone and start my own brand? Surely there is more money and legacy with this? That’s a question we got asked a lot. Usually by people who have no idea what it takes to run a successful business! Obviously the risk is greater and also the support is not there. It’s also a question of level of investment and timescales that you are working to. Do you have 10 years to develop and grow a brand? Will it still be relevant by the time you get it to the market? These are all questions to consider.


A famous story about Pablo Picasso comes to my mind here. Picasso, at the height of his fame, was stopped in the street by a fan, who begged him to do a quick drawing on a scrap piece of paper. Picasso did so in 30 seconds and handed it back to the young woman and said “That will be $3 million please”. The fan said “What, that’s crazy, it only took you 30 seconds to draw” Picasso replied “Yes, but it took me 30 years of dedication to my craft to be able to draw that in 30 seconds!”

When you buy into the right Franchise, this work has largely been done!The Franchise model has always appealed to me. The opportunity to start with a proven business gives you an immediate catalyst for success.

To work within a framework that is transparent yet gives you the license to be creative, instill your ideas and adapt to the market is an opportunity to really make the business your own.

Within a great Franchise partnership, you also have the expertise, experience, passion and brand identity on hand to support and guide you, which means you can really hit the ground running.


What to look for when choosing a Franchise?

So, we had made the big decision to buy into a franchise. Now what?

I was propelled to get involved with something that was congruent to myself as an individual, and as expected, my business partner felt exactly the same. So we asked ourselves these questions:

  • What are we passionate about?
  • What are our morals and beliefs?
  • How do we believe a business should run?
  • What product or service would we like to provide?
  • Is there a customer need for this product or service?
  • Can we differentiate ourselves from “the competition”?
  • Can we add significant value to our customers?
  • Can we lead the field and truly delight our customers?
  • Can we make a difference?
  • Is it a viable and sustainable business?
  • Does the business have scale?

These set of questions ruled out many, many business opportunities but one stood out!


Why Salad Box?

When it came to reviewing Salad Box, it passed all of our questions with flying colors!

We have a passion for a healthy lifestyle and are genuinely disheartened by the food offer in Malls and on High Streets in almost all of the markets that we visit. We saw how the Brand is different from anyone else in the market when we visited Romania – it was like a breath of fresh air.

We believe that you have to have a burning passion to identify with a brand. To dedicate your life to this brand, then you have to 110% believe in everything it stands for. If you don’t feel this, then you will not sustain your level of commitment, belief and desire to succeed. For us, it is not just about creating a successful business; it is just as much about solving a need for our customers and enhancing their lives.


We knew immediately that we had customers who wanted and needed this brand in their market. We knew that we had the passion, drive, experience and leadership qualities to represent Salad Box in our market and be ambassadors for the world-wide growth of this forward thinking, innovative, and customer centric healthy fast food offer.


Then we met the team behind the brand, which for us was the deal breaker! Their passion and love for Salad Box was infectious. Their objective and intent to provide customers with the best, freshest option for food was something that we shared immediately. From that moment on we knew we had found the perfect partnership.


We are now working hard on opening our 3rd unit in the market and the brand has been unbelievably well received in the market. The potential is unlimited, not just in our market but around the world. Fresh, nutritious food served in an innovative, engaging way is not a fad or a fashion – it will become a way of life for the modern, time-challenged individual.

Others may (and will) copy. But remember, copying is the greatest compliment you can receive and copying only ever guarantees you 2nd place!


So if you are thinking of making the leap into managing a franchise, I wish you the best of luck with your search and your adventure.


And if your search leads you to Salad Box, like mine did, then let’s grab a salad and a smoothie and discuss ;)

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