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Dlush founder empowers staff to develop professionally

If MTV opened a juice concept, it would probably be a lot like Dlush Beverage Joint, says founder Jeff Adler, whose title of CEO doesn’t stand for chief executive, but rather chief empowerment officer. Adler’s goal is to empower Dlush employees, called “players,” to not only offer extraordinary customer service, but to “take ownership” of the brand. Based in San Diego, Dlush has six mall-based stores—three in California and three in Dubai and Kuwait. Their ultramodern decor, bright colors and pulsating music were designed to draw in a younger customer base to differentiate the brand from such stalwarts as Star-bucks Coffee and Jamba Juice. Dlush’s average check is about $5, and same-store sales so far this year are up despite the challenging economy, Adler says. Dlush plans to add six more stores stateside next year and eight in 2010. To empower Dlush’s young workforce as the chain expands, the brand is launching a new training website early next year. Adler calls the portal a “YouTube-meets-Facebook-meets-Harvard” online curriculum. The site will use video, social-networking and educational content, not just about how to work at Dlush but also to impart personal and professional training.

This sounds like quite the training website.

We have a generation who spend an inordinate amount of life online. They need a training camp that will motivate them. Why not create a home away from home, where at their convenience they can learn more about the brand and create an association with the brand?

It’s not going to teach them just how to make drinks or greet guests?

We’re starting with eight training modules, but we want to take it further. My mission in life is to cultivate the best life skills of these young adults. They can learn to sell with pride and an informed manner. They can create a product and want that product to be the best. What does teamwork mean? What does punctuality mean? What are the virtues of business that go well beyond Dlush?

Has the training you’re doing now helped Dlush during these tough economic times?

Our mantra is “Mad Love at Dlush.” Give every customer the red carpet. Make eye contact. We’re investing in a culture of young adults who bring to their workplace a sense of spirit and energy and invigoration. When the consumer leaves, we want him to look back and think: “These people are terrific. I matter; they care.”

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