5 questions with new Juice It Up! CEO Chris Braun
Already passionate about healthy living, new CEO finds the perfect fit with healthy living franchise Juice It Up!
When SJB Brands acquired the company earlier this year, new Juice It Up! CEO Chris Braun didn’t quite know what to expect when he came on board. He knew he loved the concept – a franchise that focuses on community engagement in healthier living through raw and blended juices, smoothies and bowls – because he was already a juice enthusiast himself. He just wasn’t sure what shape the team would be in.
“You come into a company sort of wondering what you’re going to inherit, and it’s been a pleasant surprise,” Braun says. “We’ve got a great team, and that’s something I can’t say enough. We’ll be able to move along pretty quickly on our goals as a result of having such good folks to work with, so I think that’s the most exciting thing for me.” Braun shared his vision for Juice It Up! in this Q&A.
What it was about Juice It Up! that appealed to SJB Brands?
Initially, it was just taking a look at a very strong brand with a great history. It actually got more and more interesting as I got to learn a little bit about the people involved and the capabilities of the company. I’m a juice enthusiast. I’ve been raw juicing for a long time; we do a lot of that in my family. For me, the active lifestyle aspect of the brand and how it’s helping people be healthy were important considerations. Juice It Up! is about trying to encourage people to live healthier and be more active. Our products help them with that.
What are your short-term and long-term goals for the company?
In the short-term, we’re going to implement a new point-of-sale system; from the customer-facing side that will include a mobile app and an online ordering system, which will allow us to look at more customer data points to better understand what they want. We will also be focusing on driving same-store sales growth and average unit volumes, obviously, and adding additional franchisees and units to the system. We’re going to continue to build out in the states that we’re currently in and focus on communities that value health and wellness products. We will also be looking at things like menu boards and store layouts and design. From a longer-term perspective, we want to build on our strong brand reputation, look at additional new markets to enter and expand the product offering.
It’s also important that we further develop our support system for franchisees, with support programs, training, local store marketing, etc. I think we can do that by continuing to build on an already top-notch team of folks here at the corporate office.
Who do you consider to be Juice It Up!’s biggest competition?
The biggest competition that we have today would certainly be Jamba Juice. And then on the West Coast I would say Tropical Smoothie Café along with various bowl and blended-juice companies. The market is very fragmented.
What’s your strategy for competing with so many different kinds of companies?
I think it’s through menu innovation, quality products, speed of service and social experience. We need to evaluate and further develop a strong supply chain of health and wellness products, adding additional healthy ingredient options – things like collagen, spirulina, different types of probiotics, goji berries, chia seeds. And when we’re talking about differentiation in the marketplace, obviously adding convenience of service through a mobile app and online ordering will be key.
What’s the most important thing a prospective franchisee should know right now?
I think that they should be looking at the brand strength, the loyalty of our customer base, the emphasis we place on food science and product innovation, the support team and the ease of working with the corporate group. That entails support around site selection, construction and technical expertise around the store build-outs. They should also consider the full-service training that all new franchisees get, not only here at the corporate office as part of their initial training, but also in the field along with our operations managers. We want to make it easy for people to come into the system. We are looking to attract multi-unit as well as individual-unit operators and we’re looking for people that are healthy lifestyle advocates, looking to expand and build their businesses and generally have a good, positive outlook on wellness.
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