Why This Former NFL Player Made Franchising With Saladworks His Next Career

29-year-old cornerback Marcus Burley is pivoting from football to fresh, healthy dining, as he will soon open his very own Saladworks restaurant in Ballantyne, North Carolina.

Marcus Burley has been an athlete since the early age of seven. In 2013, Burley officially joined the NFL, and over the course of his career has played for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans.

Now a free agent, the 28-year-old is embarking on his greatest adventure since the 2014 Super Bowl: Opening his very own Saladworks franchise in Ballantyne, North Carolina.

“I’m always thinking of ways to invest my money, and I feel like franchising is a great way to start a business,” says Burley, who has had a lifelong interest in entrepreneurship and smart investing. “Saladworks has been around for more than 30 years, and they have a proven blueprint.”

Burley believes the valuable lessons he learned through his athletic career will come in handy as a Saladworks franchisee. “I definitely learned perseverance from the game of football and the importance of working at something over and over again,” says Burley. “If you persevere, you can definitely make the best out of something.”

Burley first became aware of the health-focused fast-casual restaurant while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in sports management and a minor in leadership at the University of Delaware. He frequented a nearby Saladworks, and the health-conscious young athlete took note.

With nearly 100 restaurants across the country, Saladworks is growing through franchising to meet the rapidly increasing demand for healthier meal options. After all, according to Forbes, nearly 9 out of 10 Millennials identify healthy eating as a key to personal wellbeing. Saladworks has been making customizable, affordable salads for more than three decades, so even as healthy eating takes center stage in this cultural moment, there’s certainly nothing trendy about carefully-chosen, fresh ingredients.

“This is one of the best times to invest in a salad-centric business,” says Burley. “The country is trending toward healthier living, and people are really being careful about what they’re putting into their bodies. As an athlete, I’ve always known the importance of eating healthy.”

In addition to providing the Ballantyne community with a healthy lifestyle option through Saladworks, Burley is also actively involved in giving back to his communities through volunteering.

“I’ve done community service with every team I’ve played for,” he says. “I also visit my old high school, Highland Springs High School in Richmond, Virginia, at least twice a year and help coach and speak with the kids.”

Saladworks provides a uniquely positioned investment opportunity for athletes like Burley looking to plan the next phase of their careers. The brand has many prime markets still available for franchise development—so athletes across the U.S. are encouraged to seek more information on bringing the healthy, fresh Saladworks to their communities.

The initial investment for a Saladworks franchise ranges from $163,724 to $452,292, which includes a $35,000 franchisee fee. Actual costs will vary for each restaurant depending on a number of factors, including market conditions, construction needs and geographic location.

Saladworks offers incredible startup and ongoing support for franchisees, including assistance with choosing a location, lease negotiations and designing their store. Preferred Saladworks locations include: end cap and in-line restaurants in strip centers, free-standing units, transportation centers, ground floor sites in major office buildings and street-side locations with high pedestrian traffic. For more information, please visit https://saladworks.com/franchise.