Franchise Focus: Sweetberry CEO predicts 300 percent growth in sales

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Predicting a 300 percent sales increase for a 1-year-old brand is a pretty gutsy statement for any new business, but Sweetberry Bowls CEO Desi Saran is confident that he’s on to something.

The restaurant veteran and serial entrepreneur first opened the New Jersey-based brand, which serves acai, coconut and pitaya bowls, wraps, salads, smoothies, in 2017, and has since grown it to 13 locations. That was after he served as an operating partner at Playa Bowls, four years ago, helping to grow it from a beach-front smoothie stand to a national chain. He left that behind, however, to launch Sweetberry Bowls, which Saran said is on its way to becoming a global chain.

FastCasual chatted with him how he plans to make that happen.

Q: What is your growth plan over the next five years? 
A: We have a strong east coast presence, with multiple locations in New Jersey, as well as Florida and Illinois. We have additional store openings slated for North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia this year, along with franchise interest in as far as Hawaii. Within the next five years, I’m hoping to scale nationally and expand our presence in the West Coast, and across the US with additional corporate and franchise locations.

What is your ultimate goal with the brand? Expanding nationally? Globally? 
A: Our goal is to go global with Sweetberry Bowls. Within the next five years, we’re hoping to expand internationally. Based on the phenomenal feedback we’ve received within the last 12 months, and with the help of our team and trusted partners, I am certain that this goal is attainable.

Q: How will you measure success? A specific number of units? A sales goal?
A
: There are many ways to measure success. Though it’s typically viewed as a numbers game, I ultimately feel most successful when my partners, staff and customers are happy. I want to make sure that I am growing a brand that people love. I measure success by people coming into our stores, enjoying our healthy food offerings, and truly believing in what we do.

Q: What sets you apart from your competitors?
A
: Sweetberry Bowls is a brand new company, and we’re truly making a name for ourselves in the growing Acai bowl category, which is fairly new in the fast casual space. But, we’re not just a bowl concept or smoothie shop – we serve a full product mix of salads, sandwiches and wraps as well. As a result, our product offering isn’t just seasonal, but fully functional all year round.

Q: What brands do you view as your main competitor?
A
: I truly believe that Sweetberry Bowls is in a lane all on its own, thanks to the attention that has gone into creating a unique brand experience for our customers. From our vibrant store design, to our delicious menu offerings and high level of customer service, each brand element has been carefully thought out, which has helped to position us as “next up” in the fast-casual space.

Q: What brand(s) do you look up to?
A
: Chipotle, Starbucks and Sweetgreen are just a few fast casual brands that I admire for the success they’ve achieved in the industry over recent years.

Q: How do you raise funding for new openings if you aren’t franchising?
A
: We spent a large part of 2018 raising funds with the help of family, friends and angel investors, and are currently in our 2nd round of fundraising. The company has seen rapid growth in our first year, and we want to be sure that we’re continuing along the same trajectory in 2019.

Q: What is your favorite thing on the menu?
A: 
My favorite item on the Sweetberry Bowl menu is one of our best sellers, the “OG” Acai Bowl, topped with granola, peanut butter, and banana.

Q: What do you see as the year’s hottest menu trend(s)?
A
: Acai bowls will continue to be a hot ticket item in 2019. We’re also seeing a huge shift toward consumers being more conscious of their health and wellness. As a result, many are more apt to try alternative proteins. Even non-vegetarian and non-vegan consumers are resorting to plant-based foods and add-ons to meals, including beans, seeds and quinoa.


Republished with permission from FastCasual.

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