It is quite common in the franchise world to own multiple locations of the same brand or sister brands, which is often the reason why investors choose franchising as the structure makes it easier and more cost-effective to grow and expand. While most investors start with one or two locations, there can also be opportunities to purchase several at one time through resales and acquisitions. Such was the case for the Redmon family in the San Francisco Bay Area. Black Enterprise spoke with Charlayne Redmon and her son, Phillip, to learn more about their acquisition and ownership of 20 Jamba Juice franchise locations.
Black Enterprise: How did you get started on your journey to Jamba Juice ownership?
[Charlayne Redmon]: My husband Dwayne and I own a company called CFO to Small Business, which provides financial consulting services to small businesses. We talked about expanding into owning something in the healthy food industry, so we started looking. There were A LOT of options. It took us about 10 years before we actually aligned with Jamba Juice corporate, and it was as a result of Dwayne getting a contract with them through CFO to Small Business. Through various conversations with management, Dwayne expressed that we would be interested in ownership. When the decision was made that they would be selling off their corporate locations in the San Francisco Bay Area, they encouraged us to bid on a block of stores—it was a total of 16 locations. So, we started with those 16, then purchased two more locations from private owners and built two from the ground up.
Did you always know that you would go the franchise route, or did you ever consider starting something new?
Charlayne: For the most part, we were only considering franchising because of the proven concept aspect. The idea that a brand already had notoriety made us feel it would be easier to be successful. And with the structure and team already behind us, we knew we would have help. And most importantly, our plan was to hire a Director of Operations and for that to make sense, we would need at the very least, 10 locations. We didn’t plan on 16, but when the opportunity presented itself, we felt we had to make the leap.
That’s a heavy investment. How did you manage it financially?
Charlayne: It was, but when we compared the asking price for the locations with the financial performance of them year over year, it made sense. We took the time to determine if it was financially viable. We were able to leverage the existing cash flow and borrow the money needed. We also partnered with a friend that was looking for investment opportunities. He had a great relationship with a bank and was willing to step in and be the financial backer, while we handled the business side and brought in the Director of Operations. So, we created Valley Juice Co., LLC so there was an entity where everyone was protected — both ourselves and our partner. It’s critical that you work with an attorney to figure out the best entity to protect you personally.
After the purchase of the 16 locations, it was much, much easier to secure funding for the additional four. We had experience and the banks felt safer in lending to us. Not to mention, the Jamba Juice corporate team really backed us.
I’m sure, like with all businesses, you had setbacks. What were a few of those?
Charlayne: Absolutely! None of us had ever worked at a Jamba Juice. In addition, the Director of Operations was coming from an extensive background at a top hamburger franchise brand which was very different.
Lastly, because the locations we purchased were corporate-run locations, the people that were working at those stores didn’t have as much experience as we thought they would. There was definitely a learning curve, and at one point we had to clean house. We brought in people that would perform.
Phillip: [Before] COVID-19, we also had to close one of our locations in San Francisco. We just weren’t able to get the numbers up, so it didn’t make sense to keep it open. During COVID-19, we’ve had to temporarily close six locations. The ones in the malls were definitely closed, and others it didn’t make sense to keep open because there were no customers. We were also trying to figure out the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) funding. But we’re happy to say that all of our locations are now back up and running.
What’s next for the Redmon family and Valley Juice Co. L.L.C.?
Charlayne: We’re considering diversifying into other brands, but still in the healthy food category. Jamba Juice tends to be seasonal, so it would be great to have something that is strong in more of the Winter months. Of course, if more Jamba Juice opportunities become available, we will certainly consider it.
How is it working with family?
Phillip: It’s great. I’m the youngest of four and all of my siblings are involved. We have always been very close to each other. Always trying to learn from each other and keep the relationship strong. Covid-19 has been rough since we haven’t been able to spend time together like we used to. But we still Facetime often so the uncles and aunts can see their nieces.
I also enjoy and appreciate it because family is more patient. If I’m struggling with learning something my family takes the time with me and is willing to teach.
Charlayne: I love it as well. I’m so happy because I always wanted to have something for family. We wanted to build something the children could take over. We wanted to open a world of possibilities for them. Seeing something other than just getting a traditional 9-5 and a pension. The only way to know your true net worth is to work for yourself. When you work for someone else, THEY determine your worth. Working for yourself means YOU determine that.
Our daughters, Arianne Mischeaux and Candice Edwards, also decided to follow their dreams and open a preschool called Little Investigators Preschool located in Tracy, California. However, it is temporarily closed due to COVID-19. They will reopen as soon as it is safe for all involved.
And finally, what advice do you have for people considering multi-unit ownership?
Charlayne: It’s really important to spend time learning the business that you’re interested in purchasing. Start by looking at various concepts and narrow it down from there. Once you identify one you really like, go and work for that brand. Learn all of the ins-and-outs. It’s OK to start with just one.
Phillip: You really want to have an idea of what you want. Don’t let what you think the cost might be scare you off. It’s not as expensive as you might think. The beginning is the hard part. Don’t try and run before you walk, take one step at a time, and listen. Realize that you’re going to make mistakes and learn from them.