It’s nearing lunchtime in sunny Auckland. The masses leave their offices and stroll out to grab a bite to eat. They’re looking for something healthy — and above all fast — to chow down before that afternoon meeting starts.
Sensing an opportunity, Jake and his wife Nicole decided to open Toss Salads. To try and capture a market that wants fast, fresh food. But also a market that is increasingly caring about where their food comes from. We got the chance to talk to Jake about his brand, influencer marketing, building a community, and the importance of locally grown food.
Hi Jake, thank you for chatting with us today. I’d love to get a little bit of the backstory on Toss.
We’re 4 months in to having a bricks and mortar store, but we’ve been planning Toss for about a year and a half. It’s been a long time coming.
I suppose it really started when we spotted a gap in the market for truly healthy, fast food. My wife and I were pretty frustrated at the lack of options out there. We’re all living such a go, go, go lifestyle and it’s not realistic for everyone to meal prep 24/7. So we built the lunch place we would go to. That’s where it started.
The bigger picture is that this is a chance to live our values through the business. We were really clear from the start that we wanted to source ingredients as locally as possible. Hire people who have similar values. That sort of thing. Our business has an education side to it. We really want to educate people on fuelling their bodies with a majority of good foods. Do our part to help make it a little easier.
It’s typically pretty challenging to source locally. How are you going with sourcing local ingredients?
Initially it was really challenging, local produce is tough. For probably 6 months before we opened, we were going to different farmers markets. Locking in something on a wholesale level is where it gets super tricky. The quantities aren’t readily available, especially when you’re a new person coming in, you know.
We’ve found some amazing people to get that sorted with, some really quality local suppliers. They’re incredible and it’s really been amazing having their help with sourcing for Toss. To be honest though, when it comes to sourcing locally we haven’t even really scratched the surface. We know we can improve so much more, in both quality and quantity. We’ve taken a few steps, but it’s a long road. We’d love to be 100% local one day, we’re just not there yet.
How did you come up with your name?
We started with heaps of names and narrowed them down. We were planning on heaps of different names and nothing really stood out, but Toss is nice and simple. When we said it, I could see a brand. Visualise it. I love that it’s pretty catchy. Kiwis like a bit of humour, our catchphrase is “we give a toss.” It just fit. Felt right. It’s scalable too — I can see the brand growing with this name.
Love that! Toss is super catchy. So what’s something we should try on your menu?
I’d say our most popular salad bowl is the halloumi pesto. We put a lot of effort into making sure our salads have premium quality toppings. The halloumi we use goes down super well with customers and the pesto is tasty. It’s the perfect easy office lunch.
Our seasonal menu is the other thing I’d say is well worth checking out. Keeping things seasonal keeps the ingredients as fresh as possible. High quality veggies — you just can’t go wrong.
You’re already building a strong social presence. What’s the strategy there?
Our growth was originally just all organic growth, so I think our brand message must have really resonated with people. Since then we’ve done some reach out, and some paid social, not a lot though. We have some friends who know more about socials giving us some tips. So we’re not just posting random information you know, we’re keeping it relevant.
I can see you’ve done some influencer marketing, how have you gone about finding great people to collaborate with?
We’ve met people locally who have been super generous in helping us spread the word. Les Mills (a popular gym in Auckland) has been an awesome partner there. We’ve done some events. We had a collaboration with some of the gym instructors creating and selling their own salad bowls. We’ve really focused on small (but powerful) local influencers. That will continue.
Somewhat I’d say our success with socials is a case of us being in the right place at the right time. People are becoming really aware of what they’re eating and what they’re putting in their bodies. Sustainability is big here too.
Nice one. What’s your goal for the next couple of years?
2020 we just want to lock down consistent processes in the business, and to make sure our staff are well trained. If you have consistency and reliability in a hospitality business, you know you’re on to a winner. We’ll be getting the small stuff right, so we can grow. I’d say that maybe one day we’d think about franchising, but for now we need to put one foot in front of the other.
Lastly, you’ve mentioned how great your staff are a few times. How did you go about finding them?
Yeah, we’ve been pretty lucky there and it hasn’t been as hard as we expected. We’ve found people who believe in the values that we stand for. I wouldn’t even really call them our staff — they’re on our team, but they’re like a family. It’s unreal. They put in the hours, time, and care. It’s been great to have that level of commitment.
Jake, thank you so much for your time today. Where can we find you online?
Jake uses Mobi2Go for his online and mobile ordering. He uses our Kounta integration, so orders get sent straight to his POS.
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