Robeks, a destination for creatively crafted fresh smoothies, juices, bowls, and premium toasts, kicks off the fourth quarter of 2021 with robust sales that put the brand on track to achieve some of its highest sales and unit growth in the brand’s 25-year history. Robeks average unit volume (AUV) is now topping at $977,000, a 27% jump year over year and more importantly a 35% increase over 2019.
The company navigated the Covid-19 crisis with pivotal changes to better serve guests and support franchisees through a challenging time. After the initial shock in March of last year, the brand quickly got back on its feet.
“Our strong momentum returned in the latter half of 2020 with our guests turning to healthier options and embracing digital ordering and take-out. This has carried well into 2021 and the momentum is not slowing. We are opening additional new locations this year,” says David Rawnsley, Robeks’ president.
To better serve guests, Robeks streamlined online ordering, contactless pick up and began working with third-party delivery apps to make sure guests could enjoy Robeks wherever they are. A new and improved app launched this summer to give guests the ease of ordering and access to their rewards they crave.
“Delivery has gone from 1% to more than 20% of our overall sales volume and only continues to grow with the new app,” Rawnsley explains.
As the pandemic deepened, Robeks worked with franchisees to implement stringent safety protocols and gradually customers returned in earnest. Rawnsley wanted to ensure that health requirements for all franchisees would be taken care of by sourcing masks and plexiglass barriers, at corporate expense.
These fast decisions and ongoing proactive efforts have allowed the brand to successfully navigate the challenges of the past year. The second half of 2021 brought double digit average growth each month, and this resiliency attracted the attention of potential franchisees.
More than 17 franchise groups signed deals for 22 Robeks units since the pandemic started. The company expects to open 14 locations in construction or already open., a nearly 20% growth rate. These new locations will open in existing markets like Los Angeles, Ohio and Connecticut and new markets bringing Robeks fresh juices, smoothies, and premium toasts to new health-conscious consumers.
This momentum also attracted multi-unit franchisees in new markets and the brand now has plans to open in Denver and Salt Lake City in early 2022.
“COVID-19 has taught many of us the importance of prioritizing our health over everything else,” says Rawnsley. “As a result, we have seen the impact in our sales as customers seek out health-focused menu options that still taste great. Consumers have also become more comfortable navigating the COVID-19 environment. These two factors combined have resulted in a considerable 2021 sales increases relative to last year.”
According to the brand’s Vice President of Marketing, Mitch Baker, Robeks’ new menu items before the pandemic couldn’t have been more on target.
“We introduced new superfood products right at the start of the pandemic, so our timing was spot on,” adds Baker. “We then moved some of our other products to the front of the line with a national campaign focused on health and wellness featuring the “Immunity Community” theme. This resonated well with our consumers because it gave us the opportunity to highlight the overall health benefits of Robeks and these products in particular.”
But the health scare isn’t the only factor positively impacting Robeks’ franchising prospects. More than 110,000 restaurants have closed since the dawn of the pandemic. This leaves behind tons of retail space and underserved communities. With a small retail footprint and a health-focused offering that’s more relevant than ever, Robeks is well-positioned to capitalize on it in a way that will catapult its incoming franchisees to the forefront of the economic recovery.
“We’ve significantly increased our investment in our data-driven site selection platform,” says Rawnsley. “We’re in a much better position to help franchisees find the best site within their trade area. We’re anxious to pair this tool with the right candidates to find the perfect locations for new Robeks franchises. There’s a bit of magic when you get the right franchisee in the right store.”
With a small, nimble footprint in retail spaces, menu offerings that appeal to today’s health-obsessed shopper, and the tech in place to compete in the delivery/takeout space while finding new franchisees the best possible locations, Robeks is well positioned to grow its family of franchisees.
With 25 years in the business and a concept that’s now building momentum faster than ever, Rawnsley and Baker said Robeks is just getting started with innovations. The brand overhauled its mobile ordering app to the benefit all franchisees, and even introduced some clever new menu items that offer substantial, filling meals without greatly impacting the stores’ overhead or complicating the menu.
The rollout of new premium toasts topped with fresh avocado, along with sweet and savory options, has brought a new customer base looking to healthy, yet heartier options.
“The real beauty of Robeks is that we have people that come here every day for a different food item,” says Baker. “You’d get bored of a burger and fries every day, but you can come here for a fresh juice, smoothie, a lemon ginger shot or an acai bowl and then try some avocado toast. We have enough offerings that allow people to eat here every day and still feel great.”