Marketing pro explains all of the exciting developments the juice and smoothie franchise is rolling out for customers and franchise owners
In 2012, Chad Bailey joined Robeks Fresh Juices & Smoothies as Chief Marketing Officer. Chad is a proven expert in new media, brand development, technological solutions, and field marketing — having spent six successful years with Johnny Rockets. During that time he helped them double in size by assembling a field marketing team and implementing new marketing technologies. Chad’s background is in advertising, and he has managed multimillion-dollar food and retail account advertising budgets.
Now at Robeks, Chad runs a successful and creative marketing department. His team is responsible for the latest and greatest Robeks offerings in development and on the market, and Chad is an invaluable asset to Robeks fresh juices and smoothie franchise owners.
With all of the developments Robeks has announced in the recent months — from its Next Generation store redesign concept to its Build Your Own Juice program — we thought now would be a great time to ask Chad why he’s excited to work every day at Robeks.
What excites you about the market opportunity for Robeks?
We remain absolutely focused in our belief — one that is shared by our customers — that all calories aren’t created equal. There’s been a national awakening to the concept that healthy eating leads to a healthier life and lifestyle. The Robeks brand has been a trailblazer in that area. We’re committed to paving the way to higher levels of nutrition through product development, and we strive to keep taking it to ever higher levels. Our maple water, for example, is hyper-nutrient-rich and on the leading edge of the designer water trend. We take it from trees that are later in their seasonal cycle — later in the springtime when they are sprouting leaves, after the sugar production season. It maximizes hydration for our customers. We’re first to use maple water in our products. We’re always searching for new, great tasting products with a healthy profile.
How do you stack up against competition?
Overall, our customers are more loyal, and they understand the important differences between our products and those of our competitors. There’s really no comparison: many competitors use powders and syrups in their smoothies. We don’t and never will. All of our products are made with natural everything, using seasonal, farm-fresh ingredients; these are not just buzzwords to us. It’s about our passion for real nutrition, quality, and taste.
We know how to cater to our customers’ needs, and we strive to stay in touch with those needs as they change. Robeks customers can have their preferred products tailored to their specific dietary needs, and without sacrificing taste. When you go to a Robeks store you can create your own smoothie with ingredients that you select. You can watch Robeks associate assemble your drink as the ingredients are placed in the blender. We want our customers to see what they’re getting. What goes into the blender goes into their tummies. That’s important to us.
What’s driving up your same-store sales?
Over the past two years, our same-store sales have increased significantly more than 30 percent. We are in new markets, and there are 200 locations open or in development across the United States. We also have some of the most loyal customers in the marketplace. They rely on our stores to help them maintain active lifestyles.
Tell us about your new Build Your Own Juice program.
We’re excited to bring Build Your Own Juice to our guests. When customers walk in to one of our new locations, they see a vibrant, appetizing display of fresh fruit and vegetables. They can choose what they like to create the beverage they want. There is an added benefit, which our growing base of customers considers to be really important. They see exactly what goes into the cup.
Customers like to choose their own ingredients. It’s becoming very popular in the trendy pizza shops and some of the most popular fresh-Mex concepts. We’ve always offered that choice, but with Build Your Own Juice, it’s now a hands-on experience for our guests, and the juicing process is entirely visible. Customers select produce from a “grab and go” cooler. The Robeks associate weighs their selections, and the juice is squeezed and blended as they watch. We wash the produce and squeeze the fresh, raw juice into the cup for them. It’s about customization and the ability to select what you want down to a minute degree. It’s better than doing it entirely yourself; we take care of the clean-up.
Customers will be able to choose from regional and seasonal options that are offered by the individual franchise owners, with local and regional variations, depending on the location of your favorite Robeks store.
Robeks recently rolled out a new store design. What has been the impact?
It’s been very well received by franchisees and customers. Customers have told us that it’s one of the best-looking designs for a restaurant they’ve seen. It’s cool and elegant, and our customers love the fresh veggie display. There’s a naturalness to our product that our customers enjoy, and the story of our brand is captured in the sophisticated new look of our stores. It gives our brand the look and feel that’s on par with what our brand is: upscale and contemporary.
How do you stay on top of trends and keep the pulse of customers?
We get a ton of data from our loyalty program, which we use to track our customers’ habits. In addition to sales, we can see which products the customers are responding to and how many times they visit. Their personal identity and privacy is always protected, of course. We’re just looking at the numbers. In terms of dietary, health, and wellness, we’ve been on the leading edge for years and have been recognized as an industry leader. We were the first to feature Greek yogurt in our smoothies before it became a macro trend. We introduced our coffee smoothies years ago and we introduced acai to smoothie customers with or super premium Zola® brand, an important sister company to Robeks. We were first to offer a kids smoothie menu, and our PBJ smoothie is a top seller. We provide three seasonal, limited-time offerings, where we introduce items on or ahead of trend.
How do you and your department help smoothie franchise owners?
Our franchisees contribute 2.5 percent of their sales into the marketing fund. They get a variety of things in return: four major promotions, roll-out guides, nutritional information, merchandise, window clings, posters, menu designs, and more. In addition to the limited-time offerings, they also get the loyalty program, which is a shared cost between corporate and our franchisees. We encourage our customers to sign up by making our loyalty program a place where they can get important discounts and other offers. Our loyalty members come more often and spend more than non-members, so we know they like the program, plus we get a lot of great information to help us remain a forward-thinking brand, constantly striving to serve our customers better.
What’s your favorite smoothie?
I like to switch it up; after my workout I drink “The Replenisher.” I also love our namesake smoothie “The Hummingbird.” It has a little bit of zest to it.
What marketing tool or strategy gets you excited?
There are a ton — it’s no longer enough to have a Facebook page and a website. We make social media turnkey for our franchisees, so they can maximize their time in the stores with our great customers. Social media has proven to be an ineffective waste of time and money if you’re not doing it properly. Our franchisees don’t have to worry about keeping up with the ever changing world of social media. We develop the campaigns, imagery, and content, and respond to fans and followers every day. All of those things combined make for a successful social media program.
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