Are you a professional athlete? Do you have piles of money just lying around, waiting to be spent? If so, perhaps Jamba Juice is the answer. Everybody’s doing it.
Last month Jamba Juice added 49ers tight end Vernon Davis to its list of franchisees. Davis agreed to buy one existing juice bar and open two more in Santa Clara, Calif., effectively cornering the market for smoothies at the site of the 49ers’ new home stadium next season. Tennis star Venus Williams and former NBA great LaPhonso Ellis moonlight as fruit-shake mini-moguls, too. Williams owns several locations in Washington, D.C., and Bethesda, Md., and has plans to expand. Ellis opened his own set of Jamba Juices around his alma mater, the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.
Jamba Juice is enticing for one simple reason: It’s nearly foolproof.
Unlike the headquarters of a tech company, the typical Jamba Juice shop fits snugly in a space of 1,200 to 1,400 square feet. It requires just a few employees to work the registers and operate blenders. Stores are intended to be pit stops, not hangouts. In recent years the company expanded to offer flat breads cooked in Turbo Chef ovens to help offset seasonal sales dips, but manning the appliance requires barely any training. “Jamba Juices seem to be streamlined for efficiency,” says Conrad Lyon, a senior equity analyst at B. Riley & Co. “In some locations, there literally might just be a bunch of blenders, and that’s it.” Even so, a single Jamba Juice outlet generates about $700,000 in annual revenue.
This is all driven by the fact that the core product—fruit smoothies—is virtually impossible to screw up. The ingredients arrive frozen and are meant to stay that way, even after being served. That cuts down on lost food costs and adds shelf life. If a less-than-precise server plunks in too many bananas or forgets to add enough strawberries, the difference in taste is hardly discernible. “I’d prefer to say that all the mistakes are delicious,” says James White, Jamba Juice’s chief executive.
As the Washington Business Journal reported in April, Williams owns Jamba Juice locations in Rockville, Dupont Circle, Union Station and Bethesda. Williams and the other Jamba Juicers are not alone in becoming franchisees. Former NBA star Jamaal Mashburn owns “37 Papa John’s, 34 Outback Steakhouses, three Dunkin’ Donuts and the largest Toyota dealership in Kentucky,” Entrepreneur reported in 2012. Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning owns 21 Papa John’s franchise locations in Colorado.
A longer list of other pro-athlete franchisees can be found here.