Zoup! Fresh Soup Company

Franchisee Profiles

Meet our franchisees and see how Zoup! has impacted their lives.

Jim Behling

Zoup!'s Semi-Absentee Franchise Model Let Jim Behling Start a New Business Without Giving Up His "Day Job"

When Jim Behling began looking for a franchise, he was interested in a business he could operate on a semi-absentee basis, while continuing as CFO of a company that makes gluten-free foods. What he was NOT interested in was owning a restaurant.

According to Behling, he was working with a franchise broker who convinced him to visit a nearby Zoup! location. "As soon as I walked in I knew the concept had great potential," said Jim.

Today, Jim and his partners own four Chicago-area locations. To achieve that growth, they have relied on the Zoup! Business Office team for real estate, design and construction guidance; complete operational training; and grand opening and marketing support.

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Jim also made the decision to recruit a seasoned General Manager and to intentionally pay him above market. "We chose a person who could not only run the business on a day-to-day basis, but who had the skills and the desire to become a partner in the stores." In addition to having a strong GM, Jim feels that employee retention has helped them succeed. "Our core team gives us the bench strength we need to open additional locations," he says. "We split the existing team each time we open a new store so strong players can bring the Zoup! culture and work ethic to the new location."

As for Jim's role in running the restaurants, he meets weekly with his GM to review numbers, discuss the state of the business and identify issues that need attention. Jim then stays through a lunch rush to see for himself how things are running. Other days, he monitors activity remotely via the stores' cameras and his office computer.

Paul Diaz

Multi-Unit Franchise Owner Paul Diaz Has Three Top-Performing Locations and a Plan to Keep Growing

After more than 20 years in management at two, large waste and recycling companies, franchise owner Paul Diaz was ready for a change. When he discovered Zoup! in 2007 during a visit to Michigan, he was immediately impressed. "I thought the concept was outstanding. And, I liked the fact that it was proven, but still small enough that I could take it to a new market and really grow it," he says.

Paul had worked in the food business in high school and recognized that Zoup! was a fairly simple concept to implement. And, after spending his career at large companies, he was accustomed to following procedures and working with systems. "I wanted to learn from a franchisor that could teach me everything I needed to know to open and run the business," he said. "I wasn't interested in designing a space or choosing décor; I just wanted to benefit from the expertise of someone who had done it, and done it successfully."

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As for his specific goals, Paul wanted to leverage the Zoup! brand to build a company, develop a strong management team and oversee the business. He also had a financial goal, "I plan to open a store a year without having to go to a lender, using only the capital of the business."

Colleen Hopkins

Colleen Hopkins Never Even Worked in a Restaurant, but Now She Owns and Runs Two Locations

Before becoming a Zoup! franchise owner, Colleen Hopkins' only restaurant experience was "eating at them." That detail, however, didn't deter the former insurance company CFO from choosing Zoup! as her path to business ownership. "I had been thinking about making a career change when a friend suggested that I check out Zoup!," she says. "It was one of those 'you-had-me-at-hello moments.'"

Specifically, Colleen liked the healthy menu; the comfortable, casual vibe; and the uniqueness of a menu with 12 rotating daily soups. "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."

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In April 2011, Hopkins opened her Westlake, OH location. Then, in May 2014 she opened a second location in Avon, OH. As for her lack of restaurant experience, she says it has actually been a good thing. "Zoup! has such a thorough training plan. I honestly think that coming in with no preconceived notions made it easier for me to learn the right way to do things."

Daryl Hunter

First International Franchise Owners Now Have Three Locations, Three Toddlers and the Lifestyle They Desired

When Daryl Hunter began looking for a business opportunity, one of his main goals was to eliminate the heavy travel schedule required by his position as a software consultant. He wanted a career and a lifestyle that would leave time for the family he and his wife, Deb, were planning.

Little did he know how important family time would become. Or, how quickly fate would set him and Deb on a course to open their first Zoup! location (in Waterloo, Ontario) in June 2011... and become the parents of premature triplets only eight days later.

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Daryl says they got through that period with a lot of help from others, "I have a great manager. And, the Zoup! Business Office team pitched in onsite, first with our opening and a second time just to offer support while we took care of our babies." Following the success of their Waterloo location, Daryl opened two additional Ontario units, one in Kitchener and the other in London.

Following the success of his Waterloo location, Daryl opened a second store in nearby Kitchener, Ontario in June 2013. Later that same month he was awarded the "Passion for the Brand" award at the Annual Zoup! Franchise Reunion.

Daryl was initially intrigued by the Zoup! concept because he was interested in quality foodservice, but not in the bar business or late-night hours. After visiting the company’s Southfield MI location, he was sold. "I was very impressed with the quality of the food and the overall experience,"" says Daryl. "There was a specialness that just felt right.""

Daryl says he was particularly excited about bringing a fast-casual concept to Canada, "Fast-casual dining is new here, and the cold climate makes Zoup! a really good fit. Also, I have to admit that having the first Canadian Zoup! has been really cool.""

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