Ben’s Soft Pretzels ‘University,’ a full-service training initiative, was opened by the company to provide franchise partners with top-notch educational offerings. The brand also partnered with a national distribution center to further expansion efforts.
“Training is very important to the Ben’s Soft Pretzels brand because we care deeply about the customer experience,” Brian Krider, COO/Co-Founder of Ben’s Soft Pretzels, told Modern Restaurant Management. “We want our raving fans to be served a hot, fresh, delicious, perfect pretzel every time and to be treated with above-average customer service and respect. Proper training helps ensure that. Our franchise system is growing so rapidly, that the need for both a more robust training program, as well as a new training facility, was quite evident.”
The ‘University,” housed in a newly built state-of-the-art training facility, includes courses ranging from accounting to marketing, customer service, to creating perfect pretzels, and more.
“As our franchise system has evolved, we have recognized the need for our franchises to be properly trained in more advanced aspects of business such as KPI’s, digital marketing, enhancing the customer experience, and more,” said Krider. “We can now provide our franchise partners with a go-to place for all of their educational needs when it comes to running and growing their business.”
Additionally, the brand increased the number of days trainers spend in the field helping open new bakeries and training new team members.
Ben’s also partnered with Gordon Food Service (GFS) serve as its distribution partner. The relationship has allowed them to have the ability to expand into roughly half of the U.S. and Canada through the GFS network.
“Our partnership with GFS has simplified the ordering process for our franchise partners,” said Krider. ”Our low number of SKU items plus the convenience of partnering with a large food distributor like GFS has saved our franchise partners hundreds of hours, as well as countless headaches.”
There are currently more than 60 locations throughout Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Alabama and Florida. The brand has a master lease and license agreement with Wal-Mart and Meijer, and its pretzels can be found at numerous stadium venues.
Krider said that while they look for the usual—business acumen, passion for the brand and work ethic—other factors come into play when considering franchise partners.
“We also look at what motivates an individual, what they are passionate about, and what their vision is for the future. Our franchise partners are our family and we need to be a good fit for one another. We care deeply about our franchise partners and their overall well-being. The more support we can provide them, the stronger their businesses will be, and the stronger our brand will become.”