Business Talks with Thomas Nieto of Main Squeeze Juice Co. | business news
Thomas Nieto started as a technician with AT&T in the early 2000s and ended Purchasing in a handful from mobile phone repair businesses that he eventually grew iin a franchise operation — In and out Smart Repair. Bj 2015had the company 78 locations and was the third largest chain of cell phone repair workshops in the US
Today, Nieto, 37, takes the lessons he learned about franchising repair shops and apply them on his latest business venture – Main Squeeze Jwow cothat sells cold-pressed juices and smoothies 27 branches andcross the south with 100 more in pltheneng and development.
NietoA metairie native, operates the company its headquarters on Tchoupitouread Street where he has 15 employees. The company has system-wide revenue of nearly $20 million. He sat down argue the history of his company and the keys to SuccessSsuccessful franchising in a post-COVID business climate.
interview has been edited for clarity and length.
How did a cell phone repairman start selling smoothies?
We sold In and Out Repair in 2017 And I was looking for my next business. I was in Lake Charles with a potential provider and he asked me to stop by his sister’s new smoothie and juice bar. I am committed be polite and was immediately blown away. I couldn’t believe it was me DRColor something so healthy The tasted so good.
I left Lake Charles that day and called one of my brothers-in-law, who is now my business partner and general counsel, and said: “Dude, let’s get in the juice business.”
So You ended Buy this Lake Charles smoothie startup that wasn’t even open yet?
Basically yes. We first founded the franchise company. The People we bought from, Matt and Miranda Duplechain, did not own the intellectual property still for main Squeeze, so I went and found the person who had the rights to it the name, bought, Then founded the franchiseIse cocompanies and has signed a licensing deal with Matt and Miranda.
In four months we had an operating agreement and began licensing. A A lot happened quickly, but it was an incredible journey.
What is the geographic footprint?
Weare mainly in the south, with plans to grow. We have sold the whole state from Arizona so will have 30 LocationTions there. We have some more in development in Texas, where we already have 15 locagen. We’re in Florida, Mississippi, working on it a multipleIUnit deal in Missouri and we’re all over Louisiana.
HHow do you have a thriving franchise operation which is some kind of business while you focuseng in a specialty beverage store that’s a different kind of Business in total?
You start with a focus on what you do as a franchisor because yyou can not askNChise what you don’t have. So, priority one was about mastering the operation in Lake Charles and RegardingAllyou get ours HAnds wrapped around the store and Learner inputs and outputs, streamline and structured in a scalable manner.
Also keys was the fact that Matt and Miranda created about 90% of all the recipes and had worked with some of the best chefs in the business. That made a big difference.
What is the competition like in your industry?
It is an industry The is absolutely emhe went and grows, and you’re goneIng to see the players wowO make it right keep growing. Between 1990 and 2000, People became more aware of what they consumee, and this trend has continued. There are always–increasing demand for healthyahcleaner food
What category are you in? Who is your competition?
I would call us the healthy category under QSRFast food restaurants and in particular was in the Cold Pressed Juice/smoothie market. THat is different than Ssmoothies King or PLanet Ssmoothies. Wreally not compete with them. Our customer does not accept Ssmoothies Keng.
It must be a tough business, with the cost of fresh produce and your margins can’t be that high.
I do not care wHat space you are In – TThis is a tough time for everyone restauRants, for all brick–And–mortar shopSse. The prices of goods have risen. The aftermath of COVID and the supply chain still work Logistics. We see a little relief, BuT It is hard.
franchise restaurantS don’t have large margins – Perhaps 10% To 20%. So wChicken feed costs Increase by 10% and your profit will be lost. Finally we increased ours prices after 10% last April and it helped but it has impactedit frequency, traffic.
I’ll say this: we did a really good job weathering the storm. Some networks lost 50%. We haven’t had to close a store yet. We have had to pivot and adjust.
It was over a decade ago–Yo bars, then cupcake bars. Are smoothies and cold-pressed juice bars a fad?
I think so is a trend buT no fad. It will not go away. PPeople Are more and more disadvantagesCwhat they put in their bodies. Parents pay attention. Weare youlling is fruits and veGtables and make sure they taste good. I really feel like we’re in a great place, in a great place and just right Time.
What lessons have you learned from franchising your cell phone business that you applied to Main Squeeze?
So many, but if I’m completely honest, I’ve learned what not to do. First, yyou have to go work with the right people (Franchisee)who share your passion and generally align with your values, because when the going gets tough – and it gets tough – they will leave.
We made mistakes with people in cell phone storeswho was financially qualified but didn’t fit. also we probably grown too fast with some of these shops. We sometimes gave the green light to a franchisee’s location too quickly and were not strategic enough in assessing whether this would give us a good presence or sufficient access.
I spend above $100000 yesear now to get big data and analytics for ours LocationTions because you don’t want to put them things wrong Job. thThey are not ice cream parlors. You can’t unroll them.