Firehouse Subs: Two firemen and a fortune.

Food & Restaurant

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There are so many reasons to love good food other than the obvious. Good food is awesome, delicious, inventive, colorful, inspiring, and so much more. It’s delicious, it keeps you satisfied, there are so many different options, it can bring people together, it sets people apart, and more.

If you think about the last time you ate some great food, you’ll know what we are talking about. When the first bite reaches your mouth when the first spice that touches your tongue, you get that little flutter in your chest and it’s literally the best thing you’ve ever tasted in your life. 

Founded in 1994 in Jacksonville, Florida by former firefighter brothers Chris Sorensen and Robin Sorensen, Firehouse Subs® is a U.S.-based, fast-casual restaurant chain known for its passion for hearty and flavorful food, heartfelt service, and public safety. Best known for serving hot and hearty subs made from quality meats and cheeses, combined with exceptional customer service, has ensured that it remains a favorite among its connoisseurs, even after 26 years of its establishment. Today, it has grown into a respected brand that has a wide network of over 1,190 restaurants across the country. It was recently ranked as the 4th America’s Best Customer Service Companies by Newsweek.

“The ability to make an immediate, dramatic shift has provided Firehouse Subs the ability to establish strong customer loyalty across its entire system.”

Restaurant with a concept

Growing up in a family with entrepreneurial roots, brothers Chris Sorensen and Robin Sorensen dived right into entrepreneurship. They tried their hand at rock ’n’ roll, real estate, and even Christmas tree farming. While success seemed elusive, they heard their calling when they launched Firehouse Subs on October 10, 1994.

Having been firefighters for years, firefighting had always been close to their hearts. Their father Captain Rob Sorensen, a veteran of the Jacksonville Fire & Rescue Department in Jacksonville, Florida, inspired them to celebrate and honor the iconography of firefighters. Therefore, Chris and Robin Sorensen decided to have firefighting as the theme for their first-ever business venture. It featured donated firefighting gear, firefighting memorabilia, and other elements mnemonic of a fire department. Every restaurant features a unique hand-drawn and painted custom mural that reflects a fire and police service.

The food at Firehouse Subs, which is well-loved by its customers includes hot specialty subs, salads, and other seasonal items. With names like Hook & Ladder®Engineer®, and Firehouse “Hero”®, the food is also inspired by firefighting. The subs are prepared with hot and hearty meats and cheeses and served Fully Involved® with fresh produce and seasonings. With Chris and Robin in charge of the menu, the food just keeps getting better.

Chris Sorensen & Robin Sorensen, Founders, Firehouse Subs.
Chris Sorensen & Robin Sorensen, Founders, Firehouse Subs.

“At Firehouse Subs, you’re not going into it by yourself... Firehouse Subs wants people to be in the business for themselves and not by themselves.”

We the People!

Described as a large Category 5 Atlantic hurricane that caused over 1,800 deaths and $125 billion in damage in August 2005, Hurricane Katrina was said to be the costliest tropical cyclone on record. Having caused several deaths, it caused severe loss to transportation and communication facilities, leaving tens of thousands of people stranded with little or no access to food, shelter, or basic necessities. 

The firefighters who selflessly serve the people and who have had such a great influence on the franchise inspired Chris and Robin to take action. This led to the formation of the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation®. Founders Chris and Robin Sorensen traveled to Mississippi where they donated food to first responders and survivors. The foundation provides funding, lifesaving equipment, and educational opportunities to first-responders and public safety organizations. “Since the Foundation started, it has granted over $53 million to provide equipment, training, and support to hometown heroes,” affirms Brent Greenwood, Director of Franchise Development, Firehouse Subs.

Wherever you go, there is Firehouse!

Having achieved success in the first year of its launch, Firehouse Subs started offering franchise opportunities in 1995. By the year 1998 Firehouse Subs had surpassed 10 restaurants. By the year 2002, Firehouse Subs had reached its 50th restaurant and within a year in 2003, Firehouse Subs had opened its 100th restaurant. Today, Firehouse Subs has emerged as one of the best franchises in the $50 billion fast-casual restaurant space. 

Major credit goes to its consistent investment in innovation and technology, which has continually improved its operational efficiency and the overall customer experience. The food industry runs on customer experience. For every amazing customer experience, come increased levels of expectations and equal chances of failure. However, by consistently offering something new and better, Firehouse Subs has lived up to the expectations of its customers. “The ability to make an immediate, dramatic shift has provided Firehouse Subs the ability to establish strong customer loyalty across its entire system,” emphasizes Brent.

How does one become a Firehouse Subs franchise?

Backed by an experience of 25 years, owning a Firehouse Subs franchise can be the wisest decision any entrepreneur can make. However, the probable franchise needs to fulfill certain important requirements. The franchisee needs to be a qualified and skilled team builder and needs to be aligned with the company policies. The franchisee needs to share the same vision, should be passionate about the business, and must embrace the same values that Firehouse Subs is known for. 

Firehouse Subs prioritizes franchise partner success, providing a high level of support and training to ensure that every franchisee remains focused on business development and providing exceptional customer service. “At Firehouse Subs, you’re not going into it by yourself,” shares Brent. Franchise business advisors continue to provide support in streamlining daily operations and maximizing the restaurant’s profitability. The data-driven recording monitors measure key performance metrics throughout the system to identify any pitfalls and opportunities possible. Firehouse Subs also provides excellent real estate, construction, marketing services to its franchisees which helps them in scaling their business. “Firehouse Subs wants people to be in the business for themselves and not by themselves,” shares Brent.

Passion vs. Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the challenging events ever faced by humanity. It has brought down every area of human life to its knees and has been creating havoc for almost a year now. With the world’s greatest economies and the business world badly bruised, it seems like this pandemic is trying to teach people and businesses something. Every adversity carries in itself a seed of opportunity and Firehouse Subs saw this pandemic as an opportunity to create something new. Surviving this phase was not an option but a must for Firehouse Subs. To protect its staff and its customers, they installed completely new systems and introduced new operational procedures. Since the pandemic began, Firehouse Subs franchisees across the country have been donating thousands of meals to front line workers to express the deepest gratitude they felt. “At Firehouse Subs, being a part of the community and supporting hometown heroes is as much about being a Firehouse Subs franchisee,” adds Brent.

Since its launch, Firehouse Subs has faced every challenge, every adversity only to emerge as a bigger and stronger brand. With a resilient business model and rock-solid leadership, it has and continues to fight the pandemic. No one can predict how the post-pandemic world is going to play out. However, committed to its franchise’s success, Firehouse Subs plans to continue its legacy by developing better education systems and helping more people achieve success and financial freedom.

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