Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you’re a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email email@example.com.
Healthy eating and consuming all-natural ingredients has always been a lifestyle for Panos Joulios, his wife, Heidi, and his children. So when the opportunity to become a franchisee with the uber-healthy Jamba Juice chain came around in 2010, he decided to open six stores.
Joulios has since opened or taken over nine more stores in both the Phoenix, Ariz. and Fresno, Calif. areas. He had a leg up on other new franchisees in that he had been a district manager in Northern California for Jamba Juice and spent years before that working in the corporate world for high-profile restaurant chains like Starbucks, Johnny Rockets and Chevys.
Avid cyclist and healthy-lifestyle advocate Kirk Perron founded Jamba Juice in San Luis Obispo, Calif., in 1990. With headquarters in Emeryville, Calif., there are now 800 locations worldwide serving juices and smoothies and supplying customers with 250 million servings of fruits and vegetables a year.
Below, Joulios describes how he still glows knowing he's improving the health of thousands of people by selling them pure nutrition in delicious liquid form.
Name: Panos Joulios
Franchise owned: Jamba Juice, Phoenix, Ariz. (West Valley), and Fresno, Calif. (Fresno and Clovis).
Q: How long have you owned a franchise?
I have been a franchisee since May, 2010.
Q: Why franchising?
I worked in the corporate world for over 20 years with several high-profile companies including Jamba Juice, so when the opportunity to run my own business came along, I jumped on it! I always ran my district or region with an owner mentality, so this was an easy transition in that respect.
Working hard achieves certain successes, but when you work hard for yourself, it changes your life and is so rewarding -- especially when you sign your own paychecks.
Q: What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
Before becoming a Jamba franchisee, I had a very successful career at Jamba Juice as a district manager in Northern California. One of my career highlights -- and one I am very proud of -- was being selected to help create our company’s B.O.O.S.T service standards that are now part of Jamba’s culture and training.
Prior to that, I worked for other high-profile companies including Starbucks, Johnny Rockets, Chevys, IL Fornaio and a number of startups. In addition to working in the restaurant industry, my wife and I started a publishing company and a Hobby Craft store in Davis, Calif. We also dabbled in real estate and had some successes over the years which helped with the seed money to get our franchise started.
Q: Why did you choose this particular franchise?
Eating healthy and consuming all natural ingredients has been a way of life for my wife Heidi and I ever since our children were young. This passion turned into an opportunity to work with Jamba corporate, a company that shares our values. When Jamba began franchising it was a natural fit, and it was also important to partner with a company that believes in giving back to the community as we do.
For instance, in our current Jamba franchises, we donate regularly to homeless shelters, and help raise money for schools and organizations. This year alone, we helped to raise over $250,000 for our California and Arizona communities we do business in.
Q: How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
I purchased six units initially and have acquired / opened nine more stores since 2010. I am developing in both the Fresno and Phoeix markets and have unit sales exceeding expectations. The average traditional store opening has run me around $275,000 to $300,000, plus soft costs.
Q: Where did you get most of your advice / do most of your research?
For my initial set up, I relied on my past experience for the operational side of the business, but received great advice from my accountant and attorney. I did a lot of online research for bookkeeping systems and came across Thomson Reuters accounting systems and received a tremendous amount of help getting set up from their consultants. Additionally, I asked past mentors a lot of questions and received unlimited Jamba franchise support.
Q: What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
The biggest challenge initially was getting a bank to underwrite my six-store deal. Even though I had the seed money for the down payment, in 2010 banks, were not openly lending to any businesses. It took several rejection letters and a good broker to find the capital -- and in the end it all worked out.
Another challenge of acquiring our initial six stores was creating an accounting and human resources infrastructure. It was an eye-opener coming out of the corporate world, where all of this was taken care of for you. You immediately have to wear multiple hats, hone your organizational and time management skills, and be flexible. The franchising process gave me a whole new outlook and respect for what franchisees go through to open their business. Laws, regulations, penalties... that was all on me now.
Q: What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
I would not take anything for granted, and learn what you don’t know quickly! Also, look at your relationship with your franchisor as a partnership to achieving your paralleled goals. This is key in order to have a healthy relationship that grows and matures, because at the end of the day, it creates a win-win. The more stores you open and are successful, the more money you and the franchisor makes.
One final thing I would like to mention is to remember to respect and honor the brand, because now you are the brand ambassador, or "Jambassador," as we like to say. How you represent the brand every day, in both your professional and personal life, is a reflection of the kind of franchisee you choose to be.
Q: What’s next for you and your business?
In the near future, we will continue to grow our family of Jamba Juice stores, especially in the Arizona market. We have agreed to open four to six stores in the Phoenix area (West Valley), and are constantly looking for new and exciting opportunities in the market.
In California, we see some new unit growth in the greater Central Valley area for at least two more stores. We plan to add new jobs and opportunities in both states, adding another 20 to 25 new jobs per store. We look forward to boosting up healthier lifestyles to those new employees and adding to the already 300 team members we currently employ.