A 19-year-old Jimmy John Liautaud opened his first sandwich shop in Champaign, Ill., in 1983, and the Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches brand has since grown to more than 1,800 units in the United States. Liautaud, who in the beginning would deliver sandwiches to students, has said the concept offers a simple, straightforward menu of “six meats, one cheese, two breads and 23 different sandwiches.” Its bread is baked on the premises. Jimmy John’s prides itself on speed and its irreverent tone. Its popular catchphrase is, "We are freaky fast!” Jimmy John’s employees can make sandwiches in less than 30 seconds, and the company model allows for deliveries in less than 10 minutes.
Jimmy John’s ranked No. 6 for growth in this year’s Top 10 Growth Chains, with its $1.5 billion in U.S. system wide sales up 16.1 percent from 2012. Overall in the Top 100, it ranked No. 38 in sales. It has stores in more than 40 states and the District of Columbia.
Keys to growth:
Simplicity. The Jimmy John’s menu has remained focused on sandwiches while competitors have added soups and other items. “I love toasted sandwiches, they are great, but Firehouse and Potbelly do a great job with them and they can have it. I’ve done soups and different things, but all it does is slow me down,” Liautaud said at the 2012 Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators conference. “With time being the new currency, it is important that we serve people so they can continue doing what they are doing.”
High-Profile Franchisees. Like many smaller, quick-service brands, Jimmy John’s has worked to attract celebrity franchisees, especially in the sports realm. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees recently announced that he plans to expand his current Jimmy John’s holdings to as many as 23 stores.
New Regions. Atlas West Inc. in May announced it had agreed to build 24 new Jimmy John’s units, the first to open in June in La Verne, Calif. The company said it was expecting more than 100 stores in Southern California and the greater Los Angeles area.
Franchising Growth. Jimmy John’s increased its number of franchise stores 15.65 percent, to 1,774 from 1,534, and added a company store, bringing its total for 2013 to 1,802.
Unit Economics. The company says franchise fees are $35,000, monthly royalties are six percent of sales and advertising is 4.5 percent. Total estimated initial investment, excluding real estate costs, is between $330,500 and $519,500.