February 17, 2005
As Americans consume more than 4.5 billion pounds of French fries each year, they’re creating more than just a demand for potatoes and oil. While restaurants and other foodservice providers scramble to satisfy the nation’s penchant for fried foods, they have literally “fed” opportunities to a fast-growing mobile franchise concept that specializes in cleaning fryers and recycling cooking oils without interrupting kitchen operations.
International company FiltaFry has built a category of their own with a mobile franchise specializing in micro-filtration and vacuum-based cleaning of deep fryers in restaurants and commercial kitchens. Opening its first U.S. franchise in 2002, FiltaFry has quickly grown to 50 franchise owners in 32 states. With a rapidly growing list of more than 1,000 customers nationwide, including well-known hotels, bars, airports, schools, casinos and entertainment venues, FiltaFry is awarding an average of 8-12 territories each month. The company is on track to exceed its goal of having 170 franchise owners by the end of 2005.
“The market for our service in the U.S. is enormous,” said FiltaFry president Victor Clewes, who recently moved from the U.K. to the United States to spearhead and oversee the expansion during the next few years. “We have minimal competition and virtually unlimited customer opportunities in restaurants, hospitals, schools, sports venues, office cafeterias and catering facilities – wherever food is fried.”
FiltaFry was developed in the United Kingdom in 1996 to provide a needed service to restaurants and foodservice professionals that nobody else was providing – a way to safely, quickly and effectively clean and maintain their deep fat fryers. The concept quickly caught on and FiltaFry began franchising a year later. Currently, there are operations in Australia, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Puerto Rico, Panama, and several other countries.
The Secret to America’s Favorite Fried Food is in the Oil
Foodservice companies have a responsibility to regularly clean and maintain the oil and equipment used to cook America’s favorite comfort cuisine. FiltaFry fills a niche by serving as a partner to clients, cleaning and recycling their cooking oils without interrupting day-to-day operations. The entire service takes only 20 minutes per fryer.
“There is no competition out there,” said San Francisco, Calif.-based FiltaFry franchise owner Julian Yates. “By extending the life of cooking oil, we save restaurants substantial amounts of money each year while reducing the chances that employees will be burned or injured in the kitchen while trying to perform proper maintenance.”
Most restaurants throw out their cooking oil once it has deteriorated and is no longer able to produce a high-quality product. FiltaFry’s micro-filtration and vacuum cleaning is a complete fryer management system, removing small contamination particles that cause oil breakdown, resulting in cleaner and longer-lasting oil, hygienically clean fryers, and improved food quality.
ARAMARK at the University of Central Florida has been using FiltaFry’s services since 2003. They estimate that FiltaFry’s services result in a savings of more than $5,400 each year on cooking oil alone. They also credit the service for giving added time to employees to prepare food because they no longer have to spend hours maintaining fryers.
FiltaFry’s service also includes testing fryer thermostats to see if they are accurately calibrated. Improperly calibrated thermostats can result in undercooked or burned food, as well as potentially hazardous conditions for kitchen staff. In fact, fires that originate in deep fat fryers rank first in dollar loss among cooking equipment fires. The annual total dollar loss attributed to eating and drinking establishment fires between 1994 and 1998 was $163.2 million; $11.4 million was from deep fat fryers.
The cleaning and maintenance of commercial fryers can be a dangerous task for foodservice employees who are not trained properly. During busy periods, inexperience and the pressure of keeping up with high volume food orders can result in a high risk for burn injuries when rushing to empty used oil.
Cooking Up a Golden Opportunity
With a total investment of around $65,000, FiltaFry provides an affordable and flexible franchise opportunity with high-profit margin potential in an industry with increasing demand. FiltaFry franchise owners receive initial training and ongoing marketing, technology and operations support to ensure long-term success. Due to FiltaFry’s national accounts, new franchise owners benefit from local customers who are already a member of the FiltaFry customer base. Franchise owners also experience repeat business visiting clients an average of one or two times each week.
Because it is not necessary for franchisees to have sales and marketing backgrounds, FiltaFry home office employs a telemarketing service that sets up free demonstrations with prospective clients. According to Clewes, the program has been tremendously successful, and franchise owners are closing deals at a rate of more than 50 percent.
“As with many businesses, the hardest part is getting your foot in the door. We help our franchise owners do just that,” Clewes added. “Once a customer sees the process in action and the tangible benefits in food quality and potential cost savings, they’re sold.