From ‘Zoupie’ to Zoup! Franchisee
A long-time Zoup! customer and lover of Zoup!’s Chicken PotPie soup, Earl Harris is now the proud owner of his very own Zoup! in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Read on to see how Earl went from ‘Zoupie’ to Zoup! franchisee.
Making the big decision
With 20 years of experience in managerial roles, and prior experience in the restaurant industry, Earl was well-equipped to take on the role of restaurant owner. “I’ve always wanted to own some type of business. That’s been something I’ve been interested in for a long time. When I was a teenager, in the ’80’s, I worked for an African American fast food franchisee. He was the first person that I ever saw in that [entrepreneurial] space. He owned multiple restaurants and that was really interesting to me and sparked my interest at that time. I knew down the road at some point I would get into my own business and food would be something that I would go back to,” says Harris.
His passion for all things “Good, Really Good”, and cohesion with Zoup!’s culture are what made his decision an easy one: “I was originally drawn to Zoup! because of the food. I had been a customer of Zoup! for many years. I was familiar with the product – the delicious soups had always appealed to me. Food is fun, and I’ve always thought that even as times change, and technology develops, people will always want to eat comfort food. As I delved further into my investigation, the culture at Zoup! really fit what I wanted to be involved with. Everyone [at Zoup!] is so supportive and care about the people involved, not just the food”
Location, location, location!
Earl’s location borders upon two communities, Bloomfield Township and Pontiac. “It was very appealing to me to be able to serve two communities from one location. I feel a great sense of community from my regular customers from both areas. I’ve had the opportunity to partner with a few organizations from both communities to provide meals for seniors, healthcare workers, and shelters. Hosting Ladling Love fundraisers and being able to support people in need is a big part of what I want to do as a business owner,” shares Harris.
Harris’s Zoup! is also located right down the street from a major hospital. “Soup is very comforting. I often get customers visiting sick relatives, and I’ve been able to talk with them one-on-one about what they’ve been going through. I am proud to say that my Zoup! team has been there for them to help get through these times, especially when they could not physically go inside the hospital due to the pandemic,” says Harris.
“A moment and a day that I’ll never forget is my grand opening,” beams Harris, “we worked really really hard, but it was a culmination of everything -all the time, energy, and finances that I put into this endeavor all in that one moment. We made a very big deal about our very first customer. His name is Dave, and when he walked in we all gave him a big round of applause. He got a real good kick out of that, and Dave has been a regular customer ever since.”
Operating in the Pandemic-era
Harris’s Zoup! opened in January 2020, just two months before the COVID shutdown. This caused panic for many businesses, but Harris says that the pandemic actually made him a more resilient business owner. “I think the pandemic has given me an advantage, because I don’t think there will ever be a tougher time for me to own and manage a store. I had to learn many things the hard way, the tough way, but I think it’s hit the speed button on that learning curve and has made me a better and more resilient owner.”
free time and fun
Work/life balance is important for everyone, even business owners! “I love spending time with my family and friends, reading, and listening to music. I just ordered Barack Obama’s autobiography. I’m a big fan of autobiographies – I love reading about other people’s lives, their stories, their challenges and their achievements,” claims Harris
At Harris’s Zoup! there is always music playing. “At Zoup! we have three different jazz channels and a Motown channel we play. I’m a really big old-school R&B fan, I love jazz, and old- school rap. I’m an 80’s teenager, so I like a lot of music from the 70’s and 80s’. I listen to my music pretty much everywhere – in my car, at home in my office, and on my patio. If I had an intro song, it would be “I’m Bad” by LL cool J. That one always get me really motivated and pumped up whether I’m working out or on my way to the restaurant,” shares Harris.
Earl’s Zoup! is located at 42983 Woodward Ave, Bloomfield Twp., MI
To learn more about franchising opportunities with Zoup!, download our free franchise guide below or contact Richard Zimmer at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-940-9687 ext. 4