When business owners want to grow their business, they look to peers within the same industry. When the business stands apart from competitors however, business owners need to write their own rules.
Entering into the fast food industry can be difficult, considering the number of big businesses that dominate the space, but even more so when your offering is vastly different to what is typically expected.
Luke Baylis, CEO and co-founder of SumoSalad, had an uphill battle when starting to offer salads in a space monopolised by burgers, chips and other deep-fried food.
“We had a real job ahead of us to try to change people's mentality about how they consumed healthy food in that environment,” Luke says on the My Business Podcast.
“People would just be coming out, looking for the $2 burger, and we had to say, ‘No, pay $10 for a beautiful, nutritious salad,’ and convince them to make that investment in themselves.”
SumoSalad also stands apart from other fast food businesses as, due to offering mostly salads, fresh ingredients are a necessity and cannot store bulk amounts of frozen ingredients.
“What we had to do was completely change the model so that the bulk of our deliveries were fresh,” Luke says.
“We had a lot of work to do on our supply chain – setting it up logistically, making it so that we could almost get it from the farm and deliver it to stores within sort of a 24-hour period so we could maximise the freshness. We had to really sort of break things down and almost build a supply chain from scratch to support the business model of adjusting time.”
With the concept the business properly established, next was for Luke to scale SumoSalad and still maintain relevancy, a task that provided to be just as difficult.
“As a business, we started off as a challenger brand, to challenge our industry and challenge the way people consumed food,” Luke says.
“As you start to evolve your business and scale up, people's expectations change. You're now a leader and so you've got to be very focused on innovation and driving change, and you need to invest in different areas to not just scale up, but also maintain relevancy as you’re scaling, 'cause the market's moving.
“The market isn't stagnant while you're growing; the market's constantly evolving.”
For Luke, the major challenge came from realising that further investments into resources had to be made. Before scaling the SumoSalad brand, he wanted to ensure he had about five good stores before taking the business further.
“After [five stores], you need to invest in additional resources and you need to start to up your infrastructure costs to be able to support it adequately,” Luke says.
“When you make the decision to then scale above and beyond that, you're making a decision to put investment into your resources; that's when you start hiring a more professional team, so you need to be able to adopt a model that can scale more rapidly in order to support the overheads of those resources.”