Juice It Up!
Juice It Up! makes significant investments into its growing franchise empire and plans to expand.
By Kat Zeman, Knighthouse Media
Famous for its handcrafted smoothies, superfruit bowls and raw juice blends, Juice It Up! is a fast-growing company that is ready to expand.
With 85 locations throughout California, Texas, New Mexico and Oregon, the franchised juice bar chain has expansion plans under development in Florida. It expects two new locations to open in the Sunshine State by early next year.
Aside from that, the Irvine, Calif.-based company is in the process of optimizing its store layout, expanding its product offering and plans to roll out a new mobile app early next year.
Earlier this year, Juice It Up! was acquired by SJB Brands LLC, a private investment group, with Chris Braun stepping in as CEO. Braun and his investment partners, Ed St. Geme and Chris Britt, are seasoned executives with vast experience in growing companies in various industries. Their goals for the company include increasing sales and average unit volumes.
“We spend a lot of time and energy developing and innovating products with healthy ingredients and combinations to make sure the concept is successful,” Braun says, commenting on the success of Juice It Up! “And we are constantly looking at new categories for evolving our products.”
Founded in 1995, the wellness-focused lifestyle brand was one of the first to join the smoothie and bowl business. In 2001, Juice It Up! introduced its Brazilian Blends line of Acai smoothies and bowls. In 2012, the company entered the raw juice business.
Juice It Up! is known for working with local growers and distributors to select high quality fruits and vegetables for its products. Employees are educated and trained on the benefits of each ingredient.
An Optimal Plan
Focused on enhancing the customer experience and driving visit frequency, Juice It Up! has been revising its store layout. The new layout is designed to optimize space, create product transparency and increase customer engagement. This includes maximizing the guest seating area and making more efficient use of the kitchen.
“We’re looking to optimize the store layout from the standpoint of the customer experience as well as the operational efficiencies of producing the product,” Braun says.
In addition, the juice bar chain is focusing on enhancing its three-category product offering – fruit and veggie smoothies, freshly-pressed raw juice blends and superfruit Acai and Pitaya bowls.
“We are spending a lot of time expanding those three categories and the product offering within those categories,” Braun says. “We have a food scientist working around the clock looking at innovative and healthful ingredients and delicious flavor profiles.”
Juice It Up! introduced two new smoothies this year. Its PB Cold Brew Mocha features cold brew coffee, chocolate, peanut butter, banana and protein powder. “It’s a functional benefits smoothie,” Braun adds. “It has 28 grams of protein as well as the functional aspect of having coffee.”
Another new addition is the Vital Proteins smoothie and bowl made with pineapple, mango, Greek yogurt, pineapple juice, lemonade, collagen and spirulina. “It’s a collagen-based product that brings you the benefits of collagen in a very great tasting product,” Braun says.
Making An Investment
Aside from investing into new products, Juice It Up! has also made a significant investment into technology this year. One of its largest projects included installing a new POS system at all of its locations.
“We took on a large initiative this year,” Braun says. “The new POS system allows for better data for the franchisee and for us as the franchisor. You can get very specific data on the product mix, products by day part, customer frequency and any of the analytics that you want to see.” The company is using that POS data to build its new mobile app that will launch early next year. It is currently in the beta testing stage.
When it comes to potential franchisees, Juice It Up! seeks investor entrepreneurs that believe in the brand’s wellness-focused lifestyle. Restaurant experience is not mandatory. “We’re looking for franchisees that want to promote a healthy lifestyle and a healthy product,” Braun says. “We want them to represent what we see as our market.”
If entering a new market, the company seeks a franchisee that is interested in operating multiple franchises – anywhere from three to five units.
Entrepreneurs wishing to open a Juice It Up! franchise must have at least $100,000 in liquid assets and a net worth of $300,000. The company charges a franchise fee of $25,000 per location. It also collects an ongoing royalty fee of 6 percent and a 2 percent ad fund charge. An average Juice It Up! store is roughly 1,100 square feet.
The company’s start-up program includes assistance with site selection, store build-out, facility construction and various feasibility studies. “We have an all-inclusive program,” Braun says. “We work the franchisee to make sure they have vendor contracts set up, we do geographic visibility studies and assessments of the proposed location and we suggest a couple different architects and GMs for construction.”
As the store is being built, the franchisee is trained and educated about the company’s operations. This involves one week of training at the corporate office and an additional one week of training at the franchisees’ new store. Juice It Up! also assists with the grand opening event and provides on-going system-wide and local store marketing materials in order to maintain cohesive branding throughout.