Dream Dinners, which created the meal prep concept nearly 20 years ago, is giving entrepreneurs – especially working moms and foodservice professionals – an opportunity to take a bite out of the growing meal prep industry through a new national franchise program.
Dream Dinners, which is the only national meal prep franchise, has 69 locations in 22 states. Co-founder and current CEO Tina Kuna is credited with creating the retail meal prep industry in 2002. It was widely copied and led to the development of competitors, including Blue Apron and Hello Fresh.
Customers select a month’s worth of meal kits from a rotating menu, then visit a local kitchen to pick up their order or prepare the kits themselves. The kits, which come in two sizes, are prepared from fresh ingredients then frozen, eliminating planning, shopping and chopping. Home delivery also is available. Cooking the meals takes as little as 30 minutes.
While other segments of the foodservice business were negatively impacted by COVID-19, Dream Dinners’ sales continued to grow.
Dream Dinners is the only meal prep company solely focused on the massive millennial family market, offering an expansive, kid-approved menu. “Since day one, our mission has been to make gathering around the family table a cornerstone of daily life,” Kuna said. “We truly are a purpose-driven organization, which really resonates with franchisees, especially moms.” Kuna co-authored the #1 New York Times bestselling book on the importance of family meals, “The Hour That Matters Most.”
Unlike most other meal prep companies, Dream Dinners provides completely assembled, ready-to-cook kits that can be prepared immediately or frozen. At an average of $6.50 per meal, Dream Dinners’ prices are significantly lower than most other meal kit companies. Its monthly customer retention rate of nearly 80% far exceeds major competitors, which typically keep less than 30% of their customers.
Several months before the COVID-19 outbreak, Dream Dinners paused franchising to analyze the business and plan for growth. “The pandemic introduced more consumers to Dream Dinners, which provided us with a great opportunity to better understand the behavior of today’s consumers,” Kuna said. “As a result, we’ve made a number of changes that make Dream Dinners more relevant to current and prospective customers. At the same time, our franchising offer is even more compelling than it was before.
Prior to the pandemic, about 75% of sales were generated by customers assembling their own kits. The balance came from the sale of kits prepared by staff. Today, pre-made kits account for 75% of sales. “Looking to the future, we expect the vast majority of customers will buy pre-made kits,” Kuna added. “Focusing on pick up and delivery has increased sales and efficiency, and improved unit profitability.”
In preparing to resume franchising, several other changes were made. A new, smaller “ghost kitchen” style prototype was developed, as was a satellite location unit. A new R&D chef was hired to improve and expand the menu, which changes monthly.
Dream Dinners, which is classified as an essential business, offers a fulfilling, flexible local business opportunity. It has a nearly 20-year track record of success with established systems and support for site analysis and selection, hiring, training, and marketing.
Most of the brand’s current franchisees are moms and couples who traded professional positions to become Dream Dinners owners. The brand also is appealing to foodservice professionals seeking opportunities outside of traditional restaurant and catering operations. Locations are open fewer hours than restaurants and most other retail locations, allowing for better work-life balance.
Dream Dinners has territories available in 34 states. Ideal locations have 50,000 or more homes in a 10- to-15-mile radius, with average household income of $150,000. The initial investment ranges from $352,350 to $610,000.
Two types of units are available. The standard location is a 1,500-square-foot “ghost kitchen” used for prep, pick-up and delivery. An optional 750-square-foot satellite is used for pick-up and delivery only. It can increase market penetration and sales at lower development and operating costs. A satellite requires the purchase of a standard location franchise.
Along with its new franchise development program, Dream Dinners is expanding its online delivery service, “Dream Dinners Delivered,” to 30 states. This will increase the brand’s visibility and provide opportunities for consumers to purchase meal kits even if there is no local kitchen nearby.
News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by FSR, Food News Media, or Journalistic, Inc.