Joshua Burton grew up minutes away from the Cherry Hill Mall in Southern New Jersey. In the late 90s, he used to hang out in the food court, where the first-ever Saladworks location still operates today. Burton identified with the Saladworks concept and brand, and watched the franchise thrive throughout his adolescence. When he decided to go into business for himself, it was an easy choice - Saladworks. Today he has three successful locations to show for it, and he hasn't even turned 30 yet.
"It is easier to succeed as a franchisee and operator when you believe in a concept and product so strongly," says Burton, who's also a Saladworks Franchise Advisory Council member. "I was a regular customer growing up and wanted to become a franchisee."
Burton, a graduate of the University of Delaware with a degree in operations management, marketing, and economics, is a franchisor's dream. At just 29 years old, he is a multi-unit operator with three stores in three states. After opening his first store in his home state of New Jersey in 2007, Burton immediately started looking for a second site. That same year, Saladworks rolled out a new design for its restaurants at the annual franchise convention.
"I knew I wanted to be the first franchisee to open this new '3G design,'" Burton says. "It was minimalistic with clean lines and brighter colors - an all-around fresh look. I had to be a part of that. I wanted to stay ahead of the curve."
Burton's second location in Bear, Delaware, opened in November 2008, shortly after the economy began its downturn. But Burton's drive and belief in the brand saw him through this tough time for America's business owners.
"Sales were beyond my expectations that year," says Burton. "The Saladworks product and the new store design helped my new location thrive. I don't think there is a better testament to this system than that. Saladworks has proven that it can be successful in such an economy."
In 2009, Burton's wise-beyond-his-years business acumen and franchise successes were recognized at the same annual convention that made his new store possible just one year before. Burton was awarded the convention's highest honor, Saladworks' "Top Operator of the Year."
"I followed this company since I was in grade school. I have always aspired to win this award," says Burton.
It wasn't long before Burton got the itch to open another location, this time in Connecticut. Burton took on the challenge of opening his first mall location in a brand new market. He wisely chose this location because the mall was undergoing a massive remodel, including transforming its traditional food court into a brand new dining terrace.
With three locations already under his belt, Burton shows no signs of stopping. Funding each new location with the last location's successes, Burton has been able to grow quickly.
"So far, I have been successful enough to be able to open one store every two years. I plan to spend the next few months getting the Connecticut location running just as smoothly as the other two, and then headed back to the Tri-State area for my fourth location," he says.
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