Jay Akely's world changed when his employer went bankrupt and he suddenly lost his airplane maintenance job. Fortunately, he and his wife, Vivian, knew exactly what to do next. They didn't have much business experience, but self-employment was the only option that made sense to them. Their decision "came out of a necessity to have something we could have more control over," explains Jay.
Just as strong as his desire to own his own business was his trepidation about going it alone. The answer? Jay, 40, and Vivian, 38, bought a Juice It Up! franchise. "We've always been employees. Neither one of us felt completely comfortable with starting a business from scratch," Jay says. "We didn't have any foundation, any familiarity [with entrepreneurship]."
The day after Christmas 2002, the Akelys opened the doors to their San Bernardino, California, juice bar. Jay plays a major role in the day-to-day operations of the store, while Vivian, a former elementary school teacher, manages the business full time. "She'll open the store, work through lunch and come home so we can spend time together. Then I'll come in later in the afternoon through closing," Jay says. "We handle a large presence at the front counter. That was one of our interests-to be close to the customer and find out what the customer wants."
Expansion has also captured the couple's interest. With expected 2003 sales of $340,000, the Akelys are now developing a second store and don't rule out opening more in the Inland Empire region of Southern California. "In the beginning, I was open to doing multiple sites, and Juice It Up! was interested in us doing that," Jay says.
Having limitless possibilities is one reason why the Akelys feel buying this franchise was the right move. "We could have these locations and make smoothies all day, hire a manager or develop other sites," Jay says. "We like having options so we can figure out the best way to meet our needs."