Zoup!


About Us

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Zoup! is the leading fast-casual soup concept restaurant that is defining the category with its premium and proprietary soups as well as sandwiches and salads. Each location offers 12 hand-crafted varieties each day from its collection of hundreds of proprietary recipes. "Something for Everyone" nutritional options include low-fat, vegetarian, dairy-free and low-points. All recipes feature all-natural, fresh ingredients and complex layers of taste and flavor. Zoup! also offers made-to-order GreenZ! Salads, SandwichZ! TryTwo! Combos, baked desserts and beverages. Zoup! consistently receives accolades from local and national media and organizations, including #4 of Top 100 Movers & Shakers by Fast Casual Magazine, INC magazine, HOUR Detroit Magazine's "Best Soup" and Nation's Restaurant News "Hot Concepts!"


Why Choose Zoup!

Everything Matters!

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That's why at Zoup! we always operate within a framework of principles and uncompromisingly high standards. Standards that influence our space and packaging. Standards that demand the finest ingredients in everything we make. Standards that guarantee the quality and authenticity of each pot, bowl and cup of soup we serve. And, while all of this may seem extravagant for a business like ours, without it, Zoup! would merely be soup.

Franchisees Benefit from a Strong Brand in a Fast-Growing Segment

With the same "Everything Matters" philosophy that ensures quality, satisfaction and convenience for our customers, Zoup! has created the infrastructure, systems and support programs that give franchisees the tools they need to build their own successful businesses.

In addition to the opportunity to own a one-of-a-kind, exciting business that has a proven record of success, Zoup! franchisees enjoy the following benefits:

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  • Strong niche positioning consistent with consumer preferences.
  • Low cost of entry relative to other food franchise concepts.
  • Single units and, for qualified candidates, multiple units/semi-absentee operation gives candidates greater financial flexibility and security.
  • Simplified menu items require little prep and allow for a "front of house" focus.
  • Availability of great territories.
  • Proprietary web-based POS (Point of Sale) system.
  • Z!Net business management system tracks and drives franchisees' productivity and profitability.
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  • Fast-Casual segment is the fastest growing in the restaurant industry.

Ideal Candidate

Zoup! is a great franchise opportunity for someone that is very organized, works well with systems and enjoys working with people. No restaurant experience is required, however management experience is a must for motivating a team of 12 part-time employees.


Zoup! is currently accepting inquiries from the following states: Colorado, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming.

Interested parties should have at least $100,000 in liquid capital to invest.

Q&A with Richard Simtob of Zoup! Fresh Soup Company

How was your franchise/opportunity originally conceived and started?

Zoup! began as an idea the company's founders pondered as they were building their first soup-related food service business.  

That original company which manufactured and distributed wholesale soup and spice products gave the partners kitchen-door access to some of the top chefs and managers at hundreds of restaurants.  And, it gave them the chance to confirm what they suspected all along.  First, that good soupreally good soup was hard to find.  Second, that soup has powerful intangible qualities that elicit feelings of comfort, warmth and well being for many people. And, that there was a strong demand in the marketplace for the kind of authentic, handcrafted, fresh soups that customers love to eat, but seldom cook for themselves.

Encouraged by the enthusiasm of the many chefs they spoke to and armed with their industry experience (and intense love of soup) the founders teamed up with a talented chef. Then, they got to work on the careful trial-and-error process that involved hundreds of recipes and scores of tasters who completed formal evaluations of each potential recipe.  

It was this two-year process that, ultimately, yielded Zoup!'s hundreds of exclusive soup recipes, and that made way for the company's category-defining fast-casual concept.

What was your original vision for your company? How has that changed over time?

Initially, we focused on creating the highest quality soup available and serving it in a single, comfortable, casual setting in Southfield, MI.   Although we were successful from the beginning, over time we recognized the need to broaden our menu so we added salads, and then sandwiches.  During the next five years, we also opened four additional company-owned stores where we continued to evolve our menu, develop systems, fine-tune operations and find better and less expensive ways to design and build-out stores.   It wasn't until 2004 that we felt we had the right systems and infrastructure to begin offering to franchisees.

What do you believe is the single most important factor when choosing a franchise?

We encourage prospects to think carefully about "fit" and to consider these questions: 

  1. What did you like best and least about your past jobs?
  2. What are your skills, strengths and weaknesses?
  3. Are you comfortable with the company's people and core values?
  4. Are you passionate about the brand?
  5. Do you like managing others or do you prefer to work alone?
  6. Will the business offer you the lifestyle and family time you want?
  7. How much money can you invest and how much would you like to make?

Why should someone choose your franchise over other similar franchises?

As the creator and leader of the soup-differentiated category of the fast casual segment, we have strong niche positioning and the proven ability to get ahead of consumer preferences for fast, fresh and healthy dining. 

Our franchisees enter the marketplace with a unique offering and do not have to compete against players in the pizza, sub, burger, etc. categories for real estate or customers.

Our simplified menu requires no restaurant experience and little prep, which allows for a "front of house" focus. 

Franchisees benefit from our strategic and authentic culture our underlying personality and a combination of our shared behaviors, values and assumptions.  This culture forms a foundation for running the business and attracting team members and customers. Culture is a big part of what has made Zoup! the recognized brand it is today. 

What makes your industry attractive?

The future looks bright for the restaurant industry. According to the National Restaurant Association's 2013 Restaurant Industry Forecast, the industry is expected to experience its fourth consecutive year of sales growth. 

As a whole, limited-service restaurants (including fast-casual) saw a sales bump of 5.6 percent in 2012, according to an April 2013 report by restaurant consulting group, Technomic.  That's in comparison to a 2.9% sales growth for full-service restaurants.

The fact that consumers are continuing to dine out -- despite having less disposable income shows how much customers value the restaurant experience.

What types of qualities do you look for in potential franchisees?

The best candidates will have a high degree of personal integrity, an entrepreneurial spirit and a strong desire to succeed. Franchisees must have a proven ability to motivate and train employees, as well as manage finances. A passion for the culture and product also are key. Restaurant experience is not required.

What do your franchise fees and royalties cover?

Our franchise fee is $39,000, and our weekly royalty is 6% of gross sales. Franchisees also contribute 1.0% of gross sales to the National Brand Fund and 0.5% of sales to the Customer Service Fund.  These cover operational and marketing support and routine store visits to help franchisees solve problems and identify ways to improve their business.

How do territories work for your franchisees?

Franchisees can select a location from a large geographic area; once a location is selected the franchise receives a 9 square mile radius around that location.

Why has your franchise model been successful?

Two factors have contributed dramatically to the success of our concept.  First, is our strong corporate culture -- our underlying personality and our shared behaviors, values and assumptions which help franchise owners and team members communicate our brand.  Second, is our commitment to controlled growth; rather than opening as many stores as we can as quickly as we can, we have focused on building infrastructure and have been careful in choosing franchise partners and locations.  This has allowed us to grow the brand and successfully scale the business, while continuing to provide great service to our franchise owners and customers.

Where do you see your franchise in 5 years and 10 years?

The Zoup! brand is driven by quality products and committed franchisees who are guided by our purposefully high standards and deliberate, positive culture.  We will continue to build our infrastructure with a view toward supporting more than a hundred locations in the US and Canada within the next few years.    

What is your favorite advice for new franchisees to help them succeed?

Numbers follow, they do not lead.  Forget about chasing money instead, use our systems,  embrace our culture and develop the talent and skills that will make your business great.  The rest will fall into place.

What would you tell potential franchisees that may be nervous about the financial burdens of starting a franchise?

While starting a franchise might seem costly at first glance, long-term by investing in an established brand with proven systems and ongoing support you're dramatically increasing your chances of success.  You're also getting partners -- the franchisor and your fellow franchisees -- who are invested in and committed to your success.

Can you explain your financial assistance (if applicable)?

We do not provide any direct financing, however, we do have relationships with financial institutions and can recommend ones that have provided financing to other owners.  

On average, how long does it take to start a new franchise from the franchisees point of view?

It typically takes three to six months from the time a franchisee locks in a site.

What was your background and experience before founding this franchise?

Eric Ersher, CEO and Founder, has been with Zoup! since its formation. From 1994 to 2000, Eric was an owner of Michigan Foods of Madison Heights, Michigan, which manufactured and distributed custom spice blends, pre-mixes and prepared soups to chain restaurant operators. Eric is responsible for the Zoup! brand and culture.

Richard Simtob, Partner and President since January 2012, served as a Sr. Vice President for Development and Finance at Wireless Toyz of Farmington Hills, MI from 2004 to 2009. He was a licensed commercial real estate agent in Southfield, MI from 2001 to 2007.  Richard worked with Eric in 2002 and was instrumental in helping Zoup! grow and begin franchising.  He is currently responsible for finance, franchise development and site selection negotiation and approval.

Do you have any franchisee testimonials or success stories that you would like to share?

"As exciting as it is to watch the business grow, I also take a lot of pride in creating a great environment where staff members and customers feel appreciated and happy." - Paul Diaz, Zoup! Multi-unit Owner

"It might sound a little hokey, but working with Zoup! is a lot like working with family. We all have each other's best interests at heart." - Pat & Don Hoag, Zoup! Multi-unit Owners

"Like Zoup!'s creators, I've always felt that really good soup is hard to find.  When I saw how successfully they had tapped into that market niche, I knew they were on to something," says Hopkins.  "And, I knew I wanted to be part of it." - Colleen Hopkins, Zoup! Single-unit Owner 

 

Restaurant Industry Q&A with Richard Simtob of Zoup!

Franchise Gator recently sat down with Richard Simtob of Zoup! to discuss the restaurant industry and the Zoup! franchise opportunity.

Provide an overview of the restaurant industry. Include reasons why it is a great industry to start a business in today.

The future looks bright for the restaurant industry. According to the National Restaurant Association's 2013 Restaurant Industry Forecast, the industry is expected to experience its fourth consecutive year of sales growth. 

As a whole, limited-service restaurants (including fast casual) saw a sales bump of 5.6 percent in 2012, according to an April 2013 report by restaurant consulting group, Technomic, that's in comparison to a 2.9% sales growth for full-service restaurants.

The fact that consumers are continuing to dine out -- despite having less disposable income in general shows how much customers value the restaurant experience.

How has the restaurant industry changed in the last 10-20 years?

Fast-casual dining is relatively new to the marketplace, with the first reference to it in 1995.  Since then, fast-casual dining has grown dramatically, with its current growth outpacing all other restaurant segments.  Recent trends include focus on nutritional options, local sourcing and technology.

What trends do you see in the industry over the next 5 or 10 years?

The future looks bright for the restaurant industry. According to the National Restaurant Association's 2013 Restaurant Industry Forecast, the industry is expected to experience its fourth consecutive year of sales growth.  The fact that consumers are continuing to dine out --  despite having less disposable income shows how much customers value the restaurant experience.

To accommodate this growth, it is predicted that the industry will add jobs at a rate of 2.4 percent next year, higher than the projected 1.5 percent gain in total national employment. And, technologies like mobile payment systems and self-ordering terminals will continue to evolve as a way to enhance the customer experience.

Another positive sign for the sector is the increased consumer willingness to try new types of cuisine. Consumers are more interested than ever before in modern, authentic cuisine that is affordable for the family.

What is the biggest concern about the fast-casual restaurant industry that a franchisee candidate should be aware of and investigate?

As competition grows, concepts will need to be increasingly innovative.  Successful restaurants in all categories will have to continue to evolve their offerings to stay ahead of customer preferences and distinguish themselves in the marketplace. Successful franchisors and franchisees also will have to embrace technology and make the investment to deliver on customer expectations.  

Why do you think Zoup! stands out in the industry?

As the creator and leader of the soup-differentiated category of the fast-casual segment, we are the only restaurant serving 12 always-rotating daily soups.  With our hundreds of recipes, we have made it our business to stay ahead of customer preferences with flavorful options in various nutritional categories, including low-fat, dairy-free, vegetarian, gluten-free, low-points and low-calorie. 

How is Zoup! more attractive than your competitors?

As the creator and leader of the soup-differentiated category of the fast casual segment, we have strong niche positioning and the ability to get ahead of consumer preferences for fast, fresh and healthy dining. There are many reasons why we stand out from the competition:

  • Our franchisees enter the marketplace with unique offerings and do not have to compete against established players in the pizza, sub, burger, etc. categories.
  • Our simplified menu requires no restaurant experience and little prep, which allows for a "front of house" focus. 
  • Franchisees benefit from our strategic and authentic culture our underlying personality and a combination of our shared behaviors, values and assumptions.  This culture forms a foundation for running the business and attracting team members and customers. Culture is a big part of what has made Zoup! a recognized brand. 
  • Our web-based POS and Z!Net business management system tracks and drives franchisees productivity and profitability.

Describe your ideal candidate.  Do you think Zoup!'s requirements are any different from your competitor's?

The best candidates will have a high degree of personal integrity, an entrepreneurial spirit and a strong desire to succeed. Franchisees must have a proven ability to motivate and train employees, as well as manage finances. A passion for the culture and brand also are key.  Restaurant experience is not required, unlike for other restaurants that are more prep- and cuisine-focused.

What is the strongest skill you require in a candidate?

The desire and ability to work with people, whether that's training and recruiting staff, reaching out to customers in the restaurant or getting involved in the community where he/she lives and does business.

Describe the working environment of Zoup! franchisees (indoors, home office, mobile, etc).  Is your environment typical of other companies in your industry?

Zoup! stores are typically located in areas with a high density of white-collar workers.  Stores are well-designed, comfortable and casual, with a dining room and small kitchen and office.  Some locations have outdoor patios.  Our restaurants' environments are similar to other fast-casual concepts, except require no grilling, cooking or frying. 

Why has Zoup! been successful?

We created and lead the soup-differentiated category of the fast casual segment.  By being the first concept built around hundreds of proprietary recipes, we have developed strong niche positioning and the ability to stay ahead of consumer preferences for fast, fresh and healthy dining.   Also, by pacing ourselves and controlling our growth, we have been able to build a strong company culture and to choose franchise partners who are the right "fit" for the business.  And, we have had the time to put in place the infrastructure and systems needed to make franchisees successful.

What advice would you give someone interested in buying a franchise in the restaurant industry?

First, be honest with yourself and clear on what you want from a business.  What can you afford?   How much time do you want to spend working in your business?   Will the business afford you the lifestyle, family time and income you're seeking?  Are you comfortable with the company's people and culture?  Are you passionate about the brand?  Do you have faith in the company's systems and support?   We also would recommend visiting several of the company's restaurants and talking to current franchisees.

How much experience in the fast-casual restaurant industry should a franchisee candidate have before they consider buying a Zoup!?

We require no prior restaurant experience, but look for franchisees with a proven ability to motivate and train employees, as well as manage finances. 

 

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Zoup! Tasty Franchise Opportunity!

Zoup! Tasty Franchise Opportunity!

Fast, casual, and a leader in the industry!? Learn how you can become a Zoup! Franchisee ...

Speaker 1: Hot Zoup, hot Zoup … Zoup! … Hot Zoup. Eric: Zoup started from a predecessor company, it was a spice company and we may spices for restaurants. Eventually we started making soups for restaurants. We were in a lot of backdoors of restaurants, we saw what kind of sous they were serving, and it really seemed as if soup was an afterthought for them. That really got our attention, we started asking around, and the consensus was clear the good soup, really good soup was hard to find. Richard: Eric took some time to really perfect the business model and you don't see that a lot nowadays people rush to really grow a brand really quick and they want to have a location at every corner. Eric: When we first opened, we didn't … we didn't exactly know what we were doing but we recognized that the Zoup brand had a lot of potential. So, we continued to evolve the brand to evolve the concept to get the right people and processes in place and I got to tell you, it was a lot of hard work for a long time. Zoup in a nutshell is that we have hundreds of soups, which are 12 a day. They rotate daily each order served with a big hunk of bread. We also have salads and sandwiches and we encourage sampling. Elizabeth: When I first started here, I never thought of soup as a food you know I never went to a restaurant and went what soup do you have today, but now I'm always like ooh, what's that, what's this, trying new things. Eric: Staying in front of consumer trends and preferences is really for us about knowing what customers want, sometimes even before they do. It's about innovation in trying new things and keeping what works. Grant: The Zoup experience is really about the customer. What I love about the Zoup experience is the variety and a product quality. Carl: What I particularly enjoy watching is when people find something that they like their eyebrows go up and they kind of sort of nod and yeah, this is what I want. Eric: Our big hairy audacious goal has always been to create and lead the soup-differentiated category of fast casual. Richard: This is a business that when you open you open at a very strong sales level. An all tax business, you don't have accounts receivable and some and some franchisees are able to generate the income they want much quicker than they would on your home-based business. Many restaurant businesses are competing for the same customer in the Sub business, the Pizza business, the Mexican business. We’re in our own category, in the soup-differentiated category and we’re truly the leader and basically the only player in that space. The Zoup business office is a support truster to be there whenever the franchisee needs us. They feel something that they don't feel at other companies. They feel this warmth they feel that we’re there for them and they feel like they're going to be joining a team that really cares about them. Carl: I thought their support was very good. The idea of being in the restaurant business, being my own boss, being independent after 25 years of working in the corporate hierarchy. I was as scared as heck. Grant: They know how to make it fun and they're experts at it. Elizabeth: When I first [inaudible 02:33] the first thing I thought was well isn't this what every place should be like. Becky: You're doing all the culture stuff. If you're really energized about this kind of business, everything will fall in line after that. Richard: It takes a really special type of person that loves people, that love customers, that loves the product. Eric: Make sure that you maintain that quality with quality franchisees who appreciate building a Zoup business culture and who are really passionate about the Zoup brand as we continue to grow. 

How Much Does It Cost?

  • Liquid Capital Required: $120,000
  • Net Worth Required: $400,000
  • Total Investment: $400,000

More Franchise Information

  • Incorporated Name: Zoup! Systems, LLC
  • Business Type: Franchise
  • Industry: QSR
  • Industry Subsector: Soups and Salad Shops

  • Year Founded: 1998
  • Franchising Since: 2003
  • Total Units: 57

  • Royalty Type: 6%
  • Home Office Location: Southfield, MI
  • Financing Assistance: Available, via third party
  • Training and Support: Available
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