How to Steal Valuable Lessons From That $6 Salad Place

I admit it: I’m fascinated by Salad and Go’s business. It’s a QSR with no dining rooms, a footprint as small as 750 square feet, core menu items in the $6-$7 range, and an AUV north of $1MM.

In all, they’re about as different as possible from the restaurants I work with.

Their idea of offering people decent salads at half the price of a lot of other respectable salads that are out there? Incredible.

Now, I still eat plenty of fancier $14 salads, but, while I do, I think about what I – and my clients, successful multi-unit independent operators – can learn from Salad and Go. 

Top 3 Things Salad and Go Teaches Us

Messaging Clarity and Impact

I’m currently working with several clients on improving messaging and clarity around their uniqueness and mission focus to improve revenue and employee retention.

Salad and Go has a lot of slogans – maybe too many. But each one includes clarity, uniqueness, emotion, and impact. The drink cup says, “Not for the few, for everyone” and “Drive-thru revolution.” Their mission? To “make fresh, nutritious food convenient and affordable for all.”

Reading those makes me want to stand up and write a check to their Political Action Committee!

Give People Permission to Excel at Service

Last week I stood on a shady piece of concrete in the Texas heat at their walk-up window. My phone indicated the time for my salad order to be ready had passed. 

Then the pickup window slid open and a Salad and Go team member who had been busy packing orange plastic containers of salads into plastic bags said, “Sorry we are not on time; would you like a lemonade?” 

My first thought? “Great upselling.” I could not imagine someone in a QSR behaving that sensitively. Second thought, I would be sipping a tiny little sample-size lemonade. But no, she did guest recovery, offering me a full-size drink as I stood outside in the heat, in a QSR!

I chose a full-size ($1.49 value) cucumber mint lemonade with actual pieces of cucumber in the bottom. As I did, I reflected on how completely unexpected this felt – and on the nature of the behind-the-scenes training, education, and permission Salad and Go provided their employees. Your best guest recovery must hit that standard of awareness and feel as delightful if you expect to maximize results. 

Value Is How Your Feel

Right now, I’m spending a lot of energy focusing clients on creating value for guests. Thankfully, “value” in 2024 does not mean the same as “price”; it means how the customer feels at the end of the experience, when handing over their debit or credit card. 

My clients and I work to provide great value – whether that PPA looks more like $15, $35, $90, or $125. When you provide as much value for your PPA as Salad and Go does for theirs, you maximize profit and beat your competition.

Is message and branding clarity,  permission to excel at service, and strong feelings of value at your restaurants at the level of this QSR’s? When it is, consider the upside for your brands, your business, and your life.

Drive by Salad and Go for inspiration, and translate what you see to your own brands, in whatever segment you operate.

Freedom and flexibility guide for restaurateurs.

What’s the point of owning a successful restaurant business if you don’t have freedom?

Download Matthew Mabel's Freedom and Flexibility Guide for Restaurateurs to learn how to...

  • Step away for extended periods of time
  • Contribute to your community in a unique way
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  • Travel for weeks at a time
  • Split your residence at a vacation home for several months a year