Cover Story – February Issue – Filta Enviromental Kitchen Solutions

Horrific Accident leads to prosperous Business Venture

Tragedy can be the impetus for amazing innovations to help avoid them in the future. And while it may not have reached tragedy level, a horrific kitchen accident birthed the unique business model of Filta Environmental Kitchen Solutions.

What Filta does for commercial kitchens is offer a bevy of services that essentially take away quite possibly the least desirable job in the entire kitchen, Vice President of Franchise Development Adam Blake said during a recent interview from the franchise’s United States headquarters in Orlando, Florida.

The business’ core service is FiltaFry, a fryer management and cooking oil filtration system. Basically, Filta comes into a kitchen and, using its own exclusive equipment, pumps the cooking oil out of the fryer into the self contained unit that will micro-filter the oil. While the oil is being filtered, the Filta technician will clean the fryer with a specially designed vacuuming system and then pump the oil back into the fryer.

This saves the kitchen from having to designate one of its own employees from doing this highly dangerous work and it also saves the kitchen money in oil costs and wear and tear on the fryers.

“We come in and we essentially take that job away from their staff,” Blake said. “We provide them with consistently cleaner fryers. Using our machine, we will microfilter their cooking oil. By micro-filtering their cooking oil and properly cleaning their fryers, we will extend the useful life of their oil.”

And, not only does the service save the kitchen money, it also provides a more consistent fried food product, and helps the kitchen be more environmentally friendly, not to mention safer.

The Accident

Founded in 1996 in the United Kingdom, Filta Environmental is the brainchild of Founder and President, Jason Sayers. In the early 90’s, Sayers had a friend who was employed part-time in a fish and chips shop. Tasked with cleaning the fryer and changing out the oil, Sayers’ friend was badly burned by the hot oil.

The accident stemmed from the traditional method of cleaning a fryer, which Blake said could easily be featured on an episode of the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” with Mike Rowe. Traditionally, he explained, fryers would be drained from the bottom through a valve. But, because they were draining through the bottom, the drain would inevitably get clogged
with pieces of food debris. The only way to unclog the drain was to take a piece of metal and poke it into the valve to try and dislodge the debris.

It was while doing this that Sayers’ friend was burned and Sayers came up with the idea of pumping the oil out from the top instead. While the equipment was being developed, filtration technology was added. Sayers teamed up with Victor Clewes, the now-CEO of Filta and through an investigation of how fryers and cooking oil were dealt with, they discovered that there was not only a need for oil filtration, but there was a need for proper fryer management training and the service, and thus the company was born.

Multiple Services

What makes the business an especially lucrative opportunity for franchisees, Blake said, is the fact that they see their customers on average about one to two times per week. Seeing customers that frequently opens the door for franchisees to offer complementary services that maximize their revenue per customer.

One of those other services is disposing of the old oil, once it can no longer be used for cooking. Most kitchens will have a dirty, smelly used cooking oil bin sitting out back, Blake said.

But, Filta is capable of taking that used oil away at the conclusion of every service, saving the kitchen from having one of these smelly bins on site. This is an especially attractive
feature for Filta customers. The franchisee takes the old oil, puts it through a semipurification process and then sells it for top dollar as another stream of revenue.

Environmental Impact

The whole Filta system is environmentally friendly and clients can even see how much of an impact they are having on the environment thanks to the business’ Environmental Impact Report, which
quantifies for the clients how much they’re helping the environment. For every gallon of oil that the kitchen is able to reuse rather than discard, the report shows them how much of an impact they are having by equating that with a number of trees being planted. So, for example, not discarding X number of gallons of oil, means the equivalent of planting X number of trees.

When companies use a green service, Blake said, they want to know exactly how it’s sustainable. Having a report to provide to them is looked upon favorably by clients.

Franchising Process & Support

Once a potential franchisee submits a request, they will go through a series of calls and discussions, culminating in an in-person discovery day where they will get to meet the support staff and see live demonstrations of the service. During this process, both parties must agree that it’s a good fit for all involved in order to move onto the next step. There is never any
pressure for a potential franchisee to come on board, and franchisees are not asked to purchase a franchise at discovery day, Blake said.

If an entrepreneur does decide to go all the way and is awarded a franchise, they are given comprehensive training on the equipment and on running the business, plus they are privy to a robust
support system. Part of this support system includes an inside sales team that helps them drum up business by making preliminary phone calls to the franchisees’ most coveted potential clients.

These phone calls are to pique client interest and set up meetings with the franchisee. Filta Environmental also keeps in close contact with franchisees to help them develop their business. As Blake said, the company doesn’t want its franchisees to be the ones doing the actual fryer cleaning, they want their franchisees to be running and growing the business while their employees do the actual cleaning. “Filta is not interested in selling a franchise owner a “job.” We are interested in proceeding with those that want to build and develop a successful business,” Blake said.

Having started franchising in the US in 2003, Filta Environmental is currently operating in 41 states and 27 countries around the world. The company has 750 territories in the US of which 250-300 are occupied, leaving plenty of opportunities available all over the country, Blake said.

With continual growth, Filta Environmental is well on its way to eliminating one of the most dangerous and dirty jobs one can find in commercial kitchens, and helping entrepreneurs open
their own business along the way.

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