Nékter Juice Bar, the pioneering leader of the modern juice bar experience with 170 U.S. locations, will open its first restaurants in Chicago this year in addition to entry into six new markets including San Antonio, Texas; Boise, Idaho; Coconino County, Arizona; St. Louis, Missouri; Danville, Virginia; and Taylor County, Texas. Since the beginning of 2021, Nekter has signed 94 new franchise agreements and now has 144 new locations in development across the country.
The news comes shortly after Nékter’s CEO Steve Schulze announced record-breaking sales growth of more than 50% in year-to-date companywide sales along with comparable store sales increasing by 40% compared to 2020.
“The sustained positive impact Nekter has had on the health and wellness of its guests especially during the past 18 months continues to make our brand one of the most sought-after, fast-casual franchises,” says Schulze. “Many of our longtime franchisees are adding more locations in and outside of their markets, while new franchisees are helping us bring the ‘Nekter Life’ to new communities across the country. At the same time potential franchise partners are really starting to understand the difference between Nékter, the legacy brands, and imitators, which has allowed us to truly separate ourselves from everyone in the space.”
Loren and Brandon Jaynes of Barrington, Illinois, will open the first of their four planned Nekter Juice Bars in their hometown before the end of the year. That will be followed in other nearby Chicago suburbs of Libertyville, Vernon Hills and Lake Zurich during the next few years. Loren is a native of Barrington and Brandon originally hails from Sandy, Utah.
The Jaynes, who have three young boys, are longtime health and fitness enthusiasts and spent several years searching for the ideal franchise opportunity. On a family vacation to Scottsdale, Arizona, a few years ago, they discovered Nekter and immediately felt a kinship with the brand.
“It just all really made sense,” says Loren Jaynes. “It’s quite apparent that health and wellness are increasingly on everyone’s mind and Nekter is the only authentic option that delivers a 100% healthy menu. That combined with outstanding and strong economics made us feel that this was the best decision for us.”
Artificial intelligence has also been a significant success driver for Nekter during the past year. The company removed all personally identifiable information (PII) and created a giant data lake with all order data: ingredients, make-times, wait-times, food cost, and more, and set loose one of the leaders in AI/Machine Learning to see what would happen.
Some of the findings were astonishing but most made sense in hindsight and have helped Nekter drive down costs and increase efficiencies such as optimizing its menu offerings, imagery, menu placement, production, and ingredients. When implemented across 170 locations, the savings were significant.
Deep Learning also taught Nekter how to communicate with its guests better. By analyzing almost 1 million Loyalty Members and six years of data, the company was able to create better segments and offers resulting in a 12% lift in sales over a control group, which is a huge gain for a little extra work.
“We are adding the ability for franchisees to quickly send templated offers to their customer base to drive traffic during slow hours/times such as rainy-day deals and beat the heat offers,” says Jon Asher, vice president of digital marketing at Nekter Juice Bar. “We are using AI-driven offers tailored to individual purchase behaviors and preferences. App signups are up 34% over the previous 6 months, which was already a huge period for online ordering. We expect to hit 1 million members by EOY.”