Juice it Up named the brand’s newest CEO, Susan Taylor, last month, but Taylor doesn’t think taking over the role during the coronavirus pandemic is any different than it would be in normal times. She actually thinks it’s easier.
“If the coronavirus hadn’t happened, it would probably seem more of a challenge than it does now [starting as CEO]… here’s just now, different layers of complexity that have been added because of the virus outbreak and what’s happened, but the work doesn't really change,” Taylor told Nation’s Restaurant News.
Part of that was thanks to the brand’s former CEO, Chris Braun, who took the helm when Juice it Up was purchased in 2018 by SJB Brands, LLC. Taylor credits the ease of her role, and the company’s success during the coronavirus crisis, to the plans the business had in place in January of this year.
Taylor, left, was brought on board in September 2019 as the vice president of operations before she was promoted to CEO at the end of July.
“I’ve spent probably the past nine to 10 months looking at what are the systems that still are relevant, and are cornerstones of our operation and what are the things that need to be changed or updated,” said Taylor.
Specifically, that meant launching mobile ordering and finding a way to bring in more customers. Since she began with Juice it Up, there has been a revamp of all technology – starting with the POS software.
This was all part of a larger plan to help with the costs of a buildout for new franchisees, since nearly 100% of Juice it Up locations are franchisee-owned.
The newly opened test kitchen in Costa Mesa, Calif., is the sole corporate unit; there are more than 100 locations open or under development across four states.
This isn’t Taylor’s first time working with franchisees.
She previously worked at Jamba for 14 years, and at Chevy’s before that. Her restaurant career spans 30 years.
“I understand how to operate a store, how to make money and the things that you need to do to be successful if you own or operate a location,” she said.
Taylor said that during the coronavirus pandemic, the brand didn’t need to change its business model because most of their business came from to-go orders already. But the brand was seriously lagging on technology while others in the industry were ramping theirs up. That’s where the mobile app comes in.
Originally scheduled to launch in March, but delayed until May, the app lets members accrue loyalty points, view the menu on their phone, and as of Aug. 11, order ahead.
“The past few months, we’ve realized how, how much tech really can help,” said Taylor, and the order-ahead feature was a big part of that, especially when it came to pickup in stores and curbside.
The app allows users to see the entire menu complete with nutritional information, order ahead, leave a tip and schedule a pickup at their preferred location. This allows guests to bypass the line at the actual store.
“We realize now, more than ever, that cutting down on wait times means keeping our guests safe and satisfied,” said Natalie Eaglin, Juice it Up’s Director of Marketing. “We are continuing to provide more personalized and convenient ways to enjoy our menu of functional products, and our mobile app is just one of the steps we’re taking to improve the Juice It Up! experience through technology and innovation.”
After the hurdle of getting all the franchisees into the system for mobile orders, Taylor has a lot of faith in the growth of the brand.
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