By Paul Burziakowski
For Hometown News
The barrage of the Sandwich Wars continues in Volusia County as more shops pop up. Two of the newest entries in the field, Jimmy John's and Jersey Mike's, have staked out Ormond Beach for their latest salvo, but they'll have to hustle to catch up with Subway, the so far undisputed master and commander.
Subway is the brand that most people are familiar with mainly because of their catchy TV advertising and the monthly foot long specials offered. While Subway has been around since the mid-60s, the first shop to pop up in the greater Daytona Beach area was in the late-70s. There are now a total of 36 shops throughout Volusia County. The success of Subway has spurred other franchises to come on the scene leading to a competitive sandwich war. So what does one owner of a local Subway think about the sudden jump in competition?
"A competitive market has always been around when it comes to business and sandwich shops are definitely a part of it," said Scott Bunn, Subway owner in Ormond Beach.
"Competition has been a part of Subway's success over the years because it keeps us focused on providing quality products and services and shows us how we can make improvements. We are always looking for things that customers will respond to such as toasting our subs," Mr. Bunn said.
What is it about Subway that makes it so successful and draws so many people? Mr. Bunn thinks it is a combination of several things, including value pricing, convenience and health.
"Having so many Subway locations throughout the area makes it easily accessible and convenient for those loyal customers who like our subs," he said.
Mr. Bunn highlighted the fact Subway also offers breakfast starting at 7 a.m.
"We started breakfast at Subway three years ago as a healthy alternative," he said. "In fact, we offer our entire menu throughout the morning, not just breakfast items."
Mr. Bunn's newest competition is Jimmy John's, which opened its first store in Ormond Beach on March 7.
"It is the second fastest growing chain in the country," said owner Brent Triebel.
This is Mr. Triebel's fourth store in the greater Daytona Beach area. He opened his first store in Port Orange in 2004 and since then has opened four more. According to Mr. Triebel there are now more than 60 Jimmy John's stores in Florida.
Although Jimmy John's does not have the national advertising of a Subway, Mr. Triebel credits his shop's success to providing a more personal form of customer service.
"We get to know our customers here and make sure to say goodbye and thank them for their business," he said. "That's why people return."
Mr. Triebel also is proud that at Jimmy John's all the produce is fresh and the premium meats they serve are sliced every morning in the shop.
"People want convenience and we provide that with a drive-thru and with delivery," Mr. Triebel said. "In fact, we are the only sandwich shop that delivers whether you order one sandwich or several."
Another strong competitor in the area is Jersey Mike's Subs, which originated in 1956 along the shores of Point Pleasant, N.J. The first store to open in the Daytona Beach area was in October 2010. There are now three area stores with a fourth opening by the end of the year in Palm Coast.
"The sandwich shop is one of the fastest growing segments in casual dining," said Steve Hole, one of the three owners of a Jersey Mike's in Ormond Beach.
"Most folks today would prefer freshly baked bread, fat-free meats and veggies over burgers and fries," Mr. Hole said. "Subs are a great product at the right price and that is what the public looks for."
Jersey Mike's stands out from the competition by how much they give back to the community. One way they give back is by helping local schools. If a school is doing a fundraiser, Jersey Mike's is on board to have a designated night when part of their profit goes towards that fundraiser. On Wednesday, March 27, 100 percent of the day's sales will be donated to Hugz from Bugz, a local charity partner that assists families coping with childhood cancer.
"We have a loyal customer base which see that we really care about others and enjoy our unique and quality style of subs," Mr. Hole said.
So what is creating the fertile ground for sandwich shops?
"It is the growing amount of convenience that sandwich shops provide which make them successful," said Ned Harper, director of the Small Business Development Center at Daytona State College.
"Burger shops are best known for their drive-thrus and pizza shops stand out for their deliveries, but sandwich shops are now incorporating all this and more. By adding different lines of service, such as catering, sandwich shops are able to add more market share to their business."
Mr. Harper believes the outlook looks bright for the future of sandwich shops in the greater Daytona Beach area. For one thing, people are eating healthier and sandwich shops are able to serve that tremendously growing population with their healthy menu options. A second thing he sees as the driving force to sandwich shops is the success rate of owning and running one.
"It is much easier to be a successful business owner when you buy a proven franchise, such as a Subway store, rather than starting up your own business," Mr. Harper said.
According to Mr. Harper, owning a proven franchise leads to a 90 percent success rate versus only a 25 percent success rate if you start one on your own.
"The reason for this success is due to corporate offices monitoring the performance of individual shops and making sure an owner is successful in order to protect the quality and reputation of their brand," he said.
So whether you like your monthly foot long subs customized your way, a personal style of customer service and convenience of delivery, or being a part of a sandwich shop franchise that cares about people and gives back to the community you have plenty of healthy options to choose from in this highly competitive sandwich market.