American Classic Grows Up to Serve a New Generation of Family Tradition

When Harry J. Hoenselaar first invented and patented a special spiral-slicing machine nearly six decades ago, he had no idea it would become part of family tradition in homes across the country.

The HoneyBaked Ham founder was initially focused on selling his machine to local meat suppliers in Detroit, Michigan, but eventually went on to open the first HoneyBaked Ham store in 1957.

That single-store family-run business in Detroit has since spread into 400 stores and 200 franchised locations nationwide.

Signature family-oriented products

The business developed its mission of “Celebrating life, one meal at a time” and became known for the spiral-sliced Honey Baked Ham and Turkey Breasts that have become holiday staples at family gatherings.

“I’ve never had anybody say to me ‘What’s HoneyBaked?’” said Mark Demis, national director of development and real estate. “People across the U.S. have fond memories of sitting down with their family during the holidays to enjoy the moist and tender ham and turkey that have come to define our brand.”

Unsurpassed quality across the product line

It is the high quality standards and home-style preparation of the core products that made them become traditional, classic foods in American homes. Each ham and turkey is hand-selected for quality, then cured in the founder’s secret proprietary marinade and slow-smoked for several hours over a special mix of hardwood chips. The products are then fire-glazed and sold fresh and ready to serve.

The product line has since expanded to include a variety of other popular options.

“The spiral-sliced HoneyBaked Ham is still our hero product,” explained Demis. “But we have a whole line of other high quality products, like our ribs, signature sandwiches, sides and desserts; all of which meet the same high levels of quality as our original core products.”

The evolution of a brand

In 1998, HoneyBaked developed its franchising model and expanded into a sit-down café concept, with a full menu of lunch, meal replacement and catering options. This expansion captured new markets that go beyond family tradition, with the business now also serving the every-day needs of people looking to grab some lunch.

And the rest, as the saying goes, is history – from a one-shop, family-run business to a full-menu café and restaurant franchise, HoneyBaked has evolved to become part of the American landscape with 200 franchised locations in operation today across the U.S.

Primed for further expansion

HoneyBaked Ham recently consolidated its three regionalized operating divisions – previously based out of Georgia, Michigan and Ohio – with headquarters now centralized in Alpharetta, Ga. As a result of the consolidation, the company has centralized its management, sourcing and operations and is now poised for additional growth.

“With consolidation we’ve been able to open markets that weren’t available in the past and are positioned to better support our franchisees with improved marketing and operational support,” explained Demis.

Franchisee profile

The company is looking for franchisees with a positive “can-do” attitude that are willing to grow alongside the brand’s expansion. While no restaurant background is required, a willingness to build relationships and interact with the community is needed in order to succeed in the franchising system.

Peak months for the business center around the holidays, but franchisees can find success year-round if they are people-oriented and willing to put in the effort to generate additional revenue streams during non-peak months.

“Our top performing franchisees are the ones who are involved in the business day-to-day, are outgoing and willing to promote their business outside of the four walls by getting out and interacting with the community,” said Demis.

Multiple income streams

To support franchisees, the business offers multiple channels to generate revenue, including over-the-counter retail sales of food products, a sit-down café, catering services, gift card sales, and alternative channels like Kiosks and holiday market or express stores.

“We have a unique product line, offering several streams of revenue that makes us unique and attractive to business owners,” said the national director of franchising and real estate. “I don’t think anybody can compete with what we have; our concept and offerings are unique and the investment range is reasonable in light of what we offer a prospective franchisee.”

Franchisee training and support

The company offers comprehensive, two-week training for new franchise owners, both in-store and in a classroom setting, with ongoing training and support also provided through webinars and conferences. Owners also have access to an experienced franchise business consultant in the field and are provided with marketing and communications support, as well as IT support that includes a POS system, inventory control and labor scheduling.

“Our goal is to see continued growth with very few closings, so we provide our franchisees with the support they need to succeed in their business,” said Demis.

The HoneyBaked advantage

HoneyBaked locations operate more like a retail store than a restaurant; since food is smoked off-site, there is no grill or fryer to operate. This requires fewer staff than the typical restaurant franchise and leaves owners with more time to focus on their customers and interact with the community, as well as spend more time with their own families.

Franchise owners also inherit a strong line of premier quality food products and loyal customers who have grown up with HoneyBaked as a family holiday tradition. The company’s support structure and focus on growth also makes it attractive for people looking to get involved in a business that is positioned for continued expansion and evolution.

“We’re now in a growth mode and will be expanding over the next few years,” said Demis. “Our target is to open 20 – 25 new stores next year, so it’s a great time to get on-board.”

For more information on becoming a HoneyBaked franchise owner, visit www.honeybakedfranchise.com or call 866.968.7424.

Article written by: Diana Cikes, Franchising USA