Smoothie franchises shook off the effects of the recession in 2012, with same-store sales growing for several companies. But in a brand-by-brand battle for new customers, who gained the most ground? Possibly Robeks, a 113-store smoothie franchise based in Los Angeles that saw sales steadily rise throughout 2012, with same-store sales up 6 percent for the year and 10 percent for the quarter.
For comparison, industry rival Jamba Juice saw sales grow 5.1 percent in 2012, but fourth-quarter sales grew only by 0.6 percent.
How did Robeks gain so much steam at the end of 2012 while Jamba stayed mostly flat?
During the final quarter of 2012, Robeks debuted an overhauled menu in Ohio, part of a phased nationwide menu rollout that wrapped up in January. Sales had already been tracking upward, but as the new menu arrived, a story unfolded: Customers flocked to the store to check out the new Greek yogurt smoothies, fresh-squeezed raw vegetable juices, and other offerings, boosting sales an additional 5 percent.
But, from a business owner’s perspective, that’s only half the story: The menu also reduced inventory costs for franchise owners by 5 percent, giving profits a double-boost.
“We ended 2012 with huge momentum, and it has continued this year,” says Robeks CEO Steve Davidson. “Our new menu was the result of a lot of research and many, many conversations with our franchisees.”
The new menu features 20 new products, including:
• Smoothies made with Greek yogurt, which has twice as much protein and fewer carbohydrates than regular yogurt.
• Kale smoothies and juices, which have introduced many customers to the leafy green superfood.
• New vegetable juices, which pack impressive amounts of nutrients into a fresh, low-calorie, low-sugar drink.
The changes are designed to appeal to more customers by expanding on the innovative approach to health, nutrition, and taste that have made Robeks a premium brand since 1996.