Right now, we’re living in unprecedented times, and for many of us it’s been unsettling —maybe even scary. The Clean Juice franchise family hasn’t been unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic, both on a personal and professional level, and all of us have had to rethink the way we approach our lives, our work, and the Clean Juice brand. It’s been a challenge, for sure, but we think it’s helped us grow as people, and as leaders in the organic industry.
Big Plans for 2020
The year 2020 started out big for Clean Juice. Our brand was enjoying some impressive first-quarter sales growth, and as a team, we were focused on new pathways to manage and grow our numbers, and to help our franchisees better serve their communities. We were strengthening our partnerships with third-party delivery apps like Grubhub and UberEats, were working to broaden our catering capabilities, and were making fresh and delicious updates to our menu. Life looked good, we were psyched, and there was lots of momentum. Until COVID-19.
“It was extremely important that we be honest and transparent,” recounts Landon Eckles, brand co-founder and CEO of Clean Juice, in talking about our response to the onset of the pandemic. “That meant admitting to our fears and working very hard to make sure our responses were not only appropriate, but humane.”
Internally, being sensitive to the needs of our corporate team meant there were no layoffs in the face of a downturn that might have crippled other organic juice franchises. Instead, our home office employees took pay cuts and got busy behind the juice bar in our corporate stores, giving us better insight into what makes Clean Juice, Clean Juice. Adaptation was key if we were going to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
“It was very important to stay calm, maintain a level of optimism, and to be consistent in our messaging,” reflects Eckles. “It might not have been our job to do all that, but it was our responsibility.”
Working in our juice bar stores for two months as a corporate team allowed us to show some love to our faithful guests, improve operations, and base our content strategy around what our USDA-certified organic juice bar already had to offered — fresh, high-quality fruit and vegetable power that is made to help boost immune systems and keep people healthy. We also launched the Buy & Blend program, allowing guests to buy 5-packs of smoothies, ingredients and almond milk separately, and blend it at home themselves, to limit the number of trips they would normally have to make.
Helping Our Clean Juice Franchise Partners
Our commitment calmness and consistency also applied to the support of our franchise partners, and by extension, our customers, relationships that are deeply meaningful to us. From the beginning, we knew it was important for as many of our locations as possible to remain open, and for them to continue serving our organic menu of juices, smoothies, acai bowls, and other nutritious offerings to the communities that depend on us.
With this essential goal in mind, we made sure to schedule weekly and bi-weekly Zoom meetings and updates with our franchise partners, and where possible, help them secure critical PPP loans. The result is that most of our stores have been able to continue their operations, as we continue to keep our channels of communication wide open to the needs and concerns of our entire Clean Juice brand family.
The Future Does Look Bright!
Today, there isn’t any industry out there that hasn’t been affected by the pandemic, and the organic market is no exception. The good news is, the interest in organic lifestyles has intensified as a result of the coronavirus, and Clean Juice will continue to be a leader in our industry. Many of the consumer initiatives we implemented in response to COVID-19, like our “Buy and Blend” program and our curb-side pick-up, have proven so popular, we’ve made them permanent additions to our offerings. Most importantly, after a steep drop in revenue at the beginning of the pandemic, our same store sales are on the upswing and quickly approaching pre-COVID levels! This is not only good news for investors, but great news for the communities we serve. It means we’ve not only survived, but are thriving.
“Remaining calm and taking the long view has really helped us weather this crisis,” reflects Eckles. “We’ve learned a lot — about ourselves, our brand, and the goodness of others. In many ways, this whole experience has been a real gift.”
We’d love to share our vision with you about our organic juice franchise and how we’re leaders in our industry. Get in touch with us today if you’d like to learn more about becoming part of our family!