The Salad Bar Business

SaladCongratulations! You’ve been made owner of the local grocery store’s salad bar. You’re 100% owner and responsible for the revenue generated from the bar. Salad is priced by the pound, so there’s a blend of items that cost less per pound at the bar than if you bought them packaged, but there are many more that cost much more. And let’s be honest: most everything for sale at the salad bar costs way more than if you buy it one row over at the grocery store. And yet, business is thriving.

You’re making decent revenue and the store is happy with what you’re doing, but they want more money for next year. Your customers are mostly happy, though they occasionally ask for something a little different than what’s out there.

What do you do NEXT?

Do you find products that give you an even bigger margin of profit? (Croutons are $1.00 a box, but add weight to a salad.) Do you work simply from your community’s requests: “Sure, we can throw sushi in for the same price” (at a loss)? Do you do NOTHING and start to lose customers from lack of variety?

The salad bar business is not unlike a lot of other businesses, including the business of making content for people. On the one hand, you want to give your community what they demand. On the other, you have cost and profit requirements.

How do you manage the balance? What comes first in your mind? If you’re the salad bar owner (and you are!), what’s your next move?

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  • http://pointlessbanter.net kevin

    Sneeze in all the food, get all the customers sick and then cut a deal with the in store pharmacy because that is where the money.

  • http://pointlessbanter.net kevin

    Sneeze in all the food, get all the customers sick and then cut a deal with the in store pharmacy because that is where the money.

  • http://www.ohiohome.org Cara

    How about a “test” market for new items, featuring a special addition each Wednesday based on customer suggestions. Customers will like it because their suggestions are incorporated, and you can see whether sushi or fried chicken adds more to your bottom line without going through the expense of doing it every day all the time.

    Depending on how your Wednesday “features” go over, maybe you then start another special on Fridays. How about a hummus and olive bar?

    The key is not being afraid to try new things, but also not rolling something out on a grand scale before seeing if it works for you and the customers. Based on the feedback you receive and the profit in your pocket, you can continue to make good choices about growing your business.

  • http://www.ohiohome.org Cara

    How about a “test” market for new items, featuring a special addition each Wednesday based on customer suggestions. Customers will like it because their suggestions are incorporated, and you can see whether sushi or fried chicken adds more to your bottom line without going through the expense of doing it every day all the time.

    Depending on how your Wednesday “features” go over, maybe you then start another special on Fridays. How about a hummus and olive bar?

    The key is not being afraid to try new things, but also not rolling something out on a grand scale before seeing if it works for you and the customers. Based on the feedback you receive and the profit in your pocket, you can continue to make good choices about growing your business.

  • http://stunewsandphotos.blogspot.com/ Stu Mark

    This type of business succeeds in the long term by delivering on the dreams of their customers. If you nickel-and-dime your customers, they’ll go somewhere else. Why do I shop at Amazon? Cheap prices *and* cheap shipping (sometimes free). Why was Burger King able to muscle in on McDonald’s locktight grip on the fast food burger world? Because you could have it your way. When you put your customer’s desires above your own, your kids’ inheritance will be larger.

  • http://stunewsandphotos.blogspot.com/ Stu Mark

    This type of business succeeds in the long term by delivering on the dreams of their customers. If you nickel-and-dime your customers, they’ll go somewhere else. Why do I shop at Amazon? Cheap prices *and* cheap shipping (sometimes free). Why was Burger King able to muscle in on McDonald’s locktight grip on the fast food burger world? Because you could have it your way. When you put your customer’s desires above your own, your kids’ inheritance will be larger.

  • http://mikedesjardins.us Mike Desjardins

    As the salad bar owner, who are your competitors? At my grocery store, the “competition” would consist of other ready-to-eat foods, namely sushi, rotisserie chicken, and maybe a few of the deli items. So I’d try to call attention to the health benefits of choosing the salad bar over the less healthy alternatives. Perhaps I’d hire a sexy model (hey, that almost *always* works, right?) to claim that salad is how he/she stays in shape.

  • http://mikedesjardins.us Mike Desjardins

    As the salad bar owner, who are your competitors? At my grocery store, the “competition” would consist of other ready-to-eat foods, namely sushi, rotisserie chicken, and maybe a few of the deli items. So I’d try to call attention to the health benefits of choosing the salad bar over the less healthy alternatives. Perhaps I’d hire a sexy model (hey, that almost *always* works, right?) to claim that salad is how he/she stays in shape.

  • http://blog.techrigy.com Martin Edic

    Pretty common business situation I think. You throw in loss leaders if they increase traffic and size of sale. You measure one vs. your control (salad bar before sushi) and check revenues. You keep testing and you listen to the buzz, ask your checkout people what they see people buying and reacting to, ask people what they like and don’t like, etc.
    In other words there’s social communication taking place that you need to listen to, observe and then respond to- just like social media…;-)

  • http://blog.techrigy.com Martin Edic

    Pretty common business situation I think. You throw in loss leaders if they increase traffic and size of sale. You measure one vs. your control (salad bar before sushi) and check revenues. You keep testing and you listen to the buzz, ask your checkout people what they see people buying and reacting to, ask people what they like and don’t like, etc.
    In other words there’s social communication taking place that you need to listen to, observe and then respond to- just like social media…;-)

  • http://thefuturebuzz.com Adam Singer

    great analogy, chris

    what if you made your salad bar stand out 100% — IE go to all organic ingredients

    then you can charge more per pound for a special product and latch on to the big trend right now (organic food)

  • http://thefuturebuzz.com Adam Singer

    great analogy, chris

    what if you made your salad bar stand out 100% — IE go to all organic ingredients

    then you can charge more per pound for a special product and latch on to the big trend right now (organic food)

  • http://www.chrisbonney.com Chris Bonney

    This is a good analogy, because two major factors in content delivery and salad bars are presentation and quality. Is my salad bar kept up? Is lettuce floating in the Thousand Island? Are random mushrooms invading the black olives? Is the fruit days old or does it glisten with freshness?

    The most successful salads bars contain food that looks delicious and like something you can’t get at home. Variety, quality, and freshness.

  • http://www.chrisbonney.com Chris Bonney

    This is a good analogy, because two major factors in content delivery and salad bars are presentation and quality. Is my salad bar kept up? Is lettuce floating in the Thousand Island? Are random mushrooms invading the black olives? Is the fruit days old or does it glisten with freshness?

    The most successful salads bars contain food that looks delicious and like something you can’t get at home. Variety, quality, and freshness.

  • http://gnmparents.com Meg

    I *love* this metaphor. I have been rolling this about in my head for a couple of weeks to figure out the hows and whats. This metaphor will help me talk about it with others. I am totally stealing it ;)

  • http://gnmparents.com Meg

    I *love* this metaphor. I have been rolling this about in my head for a couple of weeks to figure out the hows and whats. This metaphor will help me talk about it with others. I am totally stealing it ;)

  • http://www.99daz.com Darren Daz Cox

    I think convenience is the key in the grocery store salad bars. As long as the items, food and containers to put them in are easily accessible people will fill up there. having more exotic items isn’t necessary in my opinion as long as what is there covers the basic salad-groups and the whole set up is clean!

  • http://www.99daz.com Darren Daz Cox

    I think convenience is the key in the grocery store salad bars. As long as the items, food and containers to put them in are easily accessible people will fill up there. having more exotic items isn’t necessary in my opinion as long as what is there covers the basic salad-groups and the whole set up is clean!

  • http://pearl.1journal.net Andy T

    I believe you mean:
    Use deep discount to attract new customer, make the gross from the other items. Give your customer an image of good deal, good services.
    After your business start picking up, your landlord increase your rent, supplier increase their price.
    Either increase new customers, new product line [or services] with better gross or cut the operating cost[out scouce].
    What else?

  • http://pearl.1journal.net Andy T

    I believe you mean:
    Use deep discount to attract new customer, make the gross from the other items. Give your customer an image of good deal, good services.
    After your business start picking up, your landlord increase your rent, supplier increase their price.
    Either increase new customers, new product line [or services] with better gross or cut the operating cost[out scouce].
    What else?

  • http://larak.wordpress.com Lara Kretler

    I’d feature locally grown, farm fresh ingredients and promote the heck out of that. Local-vorism and the farm to fork movement are huge. Maybe a little chalk board that states what time that day the produce was picked and washed and put on the salad bar. People would love that! I’d seek out all the hyperlocal foodie blogs (there are tons in Columbus) and invite them to have lunch on us at our salad bar so they can check out the freshness for themselves. They’d all blog about the fabulousness of our salad bar, natch. I’d invite the local restaurant reviewers/food critics, too.

  • http://larak.wordpress.com Lara Kretler

    I’d feature locally grown, farm fresh ingredients and promote the heck out of that. Local-vorism and the farm to fork movement are huge. Maybe a little chalk board that states what time that day the produce was picked and washed and put on the salad bar. People would love that! I’d seek out all the hyperlocal foodie blogs (there are tons in Columbus) and invite them to have lunch on us at our salad bar so they can check out the freshness for themselves. They’d all blog about the fabulousness of our salad bar, natch. I’d invite the local restaurant reviewers/food critics, too.

  • http://www.bestwellnessconsultant.com Mother Earth

    i’d create a committed salad bar club – oh you know like buy 6 salads and get the 7th free, basically do something that rewards the behavior you want in the first place – i’d also educate what makes a healthy salad, maybe showing the nutrient benefits – some folks might not know how nutritious cabbage is – it could the food tip for the day or something like that. as one who has set up salad bars, maintained them etc – i personally as mentioned need a salad bar to be visually appealling and uber clean

  • http://www.bestwellnessconsultant.com Mother Earth

    i’d create a committed salad bar club – oh you know like buy 6 salads and get the 7th free, basically do something that rewards the behavior you want in the first place – i’d also educate what makes a healthy salad, maybe showing the nutrient benefits – some folks might not know how nutritious cabbage is – it could the food tip for the day or something like that. as one who has set up salad bars, maintained them etc – i personally as mentioned need a salad bar to be visually appealling and uber clean

  • jordan

    Hi there, i’m thinking of setting up a mobile salad bar in my town and wondered if any of you had any suggestions or advice? I gather that a few of you own your own salad bars and i would love to hear from you and hopefully gain from your experience.
    At the moment i am thinking about offering organic salads smoothies baguettes and sandwiches but i was wondering if i could make enough trade from the salads alone or would i need to sell sandwiches and baguettes to increase my profits?
    I have read a lot on the internet about salad bars and the main selling aspect is the presentation and the variety of products on offer. How many different selections should i have? i was thinking about a selection of 12 as the van i am buying will have limited space.. however i would really like to include a selection of pastas as well. Any help or suggestions would be much appreciated, Many thanks in advance!

    My e-mail is j2k_uk@hotmail.co.uk

  • jordan

    Hi there, i’m thinking of setting up a mobile salad bar in my town and wondered if any of you had any suggestions or advice? I gather that a few of you own your own salad bars and i would love to hear from you and hopefully gain from your experience.
    At the moment i am thinking about offering organic salads smoothies baguettes and sandwiches but i was wondering if i could make enough trade from the salads alone or would i need to sell sandwiches and baguettes to increase my profits?
    I have read a lot on the internet about salad bars and the main selling aspect is the presentation and the variety of products on offer. How many different selections should i have? i was thinking about a selection of 12 as the van i am buying will have limited space.. however i would really like to include a selection of pastas as well. Any help or suggestions would be much appreciated, Many thanks in advance!

    My e-mail is j2k_uk@hotmail.co.uk

  • kcash

    I am looking to open a mobile salad stand as well in Columbia South Carolina. We should email and exchange ideas…i am very interested in your progress, i have googled a lot and found very little about the “mobile” salad bar idea- I think there is a lot of potential!

  • kcash

    I am looking to open a mobile salad stand as well in Columbia South Carolina. We should email and exchange ideas…i am very interested in your progress, i have googled a lot and found very little about the “mobile” salad bar idea- I think there is a lot of potential!

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  • Michael Ozemhoya

    Hello there, I just got a place and would like to set up a Salad Bar, any assistance?

  • Joe

    I have run a salad bars in a couple different supermarkets before and something that helped boost our sales by about 40% a week was adding more varieties of chicken. we already had a plain boring chicken but by taking bonless bbq and buffulo wings from the deli we were able to chrush our normal sales it still only cost about 3 bucks a pound