Q&A with Ashley Morris
Our team at Franchising USA had a chance to sit down with Ashley Morris of Capriotti’s, to learn more about the growth and success of this franchise brand.
Our questions are in bold. Hope you enjoy reading.
Tell us about the Capriotti’s concept.
The core concept for Capriotti’s is serving high quality sandwiches using fresh, all-natural ingredients. We slow-roast whole, all natural turkeys in house every day. We slow-cook our beef overnight every night and have fresh rolls and other produce delivered daily. That’s the concept that motivated our founder when she opened the first Capriotti’s and we carry that tradition on today.
What are some of the best advantages of being a Capriotti’s franchisee?
First and foremost, I believe we sell the best-tasting sandwiches and food in the quick-serve and fast casual space and our franchisees can be incredibly passionate about what they’re selling. They can eat the food happily and take pride in the product that comes out of their restaurant.
Secondly, if you’re a person who wants to be in the sandwich space, there are a lot of franchises that are the same, but we are different – we have a niche. We’re more of a fast casual sandwich chain than we are a quick-serve and we have a product that’s easy to differentiate from the competition.
Another key advantage is catering. Everyone says they cater, but we do a pretty big percentage of our business from catering orders. There’s tremendous business opportunity in catering. Our catering options work for our customers and sell well. It’s something we pride ourselves on and it’s a tremendous opportunity for our franchisees to differentiate.
Describe your ideal franchisee.
Our ideal franchisees are passionate about our product. They’ve demonstrated past success in business, franchising or the restaurant space. They understand and align with our values of integrity, passion, family, genuineness, and profitability. They embrace the important role marketing plays in the success of their business and of Capriotti’s as a whole.
Tell us about any upcoming trends you foresee in the fast casual industry. What is Capriotti’s doing to keep up with these trends?
There’s a continued focus on using higher-quality ingredients with less artificial stuff. For 40 years, we have served all-natural, hormone-free, real Butterball turkey – the one ingredient in our turkey is turkey. This is true of all our proteins. The only ingredient in our beef is beef – it’s a whole-top brown that we slow cook every night, so our proteins already meet that demand and have for 40 years. Our founder was ahead of her time and we’re ahead of the trend.
I also think there’s a commitment by people to eating less calories and we’ve embraced that through our soups and salads.
There’s also a trend within the restaurant space to embrace technology – having a mobile app, allowing customers to order online, being able to communicate as a brand through digital and social channels. Customers want to engage with brands and be part of them. We have all of those things. We have our app, we have social channels and we invite and encourage our customers to engage us there.
Capriotti’s is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. What are the most important factors that have helped Capriotti’s stay successful for 40 years?
I think what makes Capriotti’s so great through 40 years, through economic booms and times of recession, is that the company hasn’t broken its brand promise. This company was created on our founder’s love of real, high-quality meat. This company started with the idea that we’re not going to use processed, preserved, bad products. Even when the going got tough, we never broke that brand promise; we never compromised on quality when it would have been so easy to do in order to reduce costs and help the bottom line. That’s probably the contributing factor in our longevity.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome to expand the Capriotti’s franchise?
The biggest challenge we’ve had to overcome is opening new locations far away from our core markets. We’ve been able to overcome it through strong, system-wide distribution and product manufacturing agreements. Operating too far away from your other restaurants can be tough, but we’ve managed it. It entails careful expansion and opening new distribution channels and being smart about our collective marketing efforts to strengthen brand recognition in new markets.