Main Squeeze Juice Co.
Nieto tells 1851 Franchise how the franchise came to be and how it makes healthy easy.
1851 Franchise: Tell us about the history and founding of the Main Squeeze Juice Co.
Thomas Nieto, CEO of Main Squeeze Juice Co.: I had a former cell phone repair concept that I sold with my partners. In May of 2017, I was exploring another cell phone repair concept in Lake Charles, Louisiana. And the gentleman that I was meeting with for the cell phone repair concept was also funding a juice and smoothie concept that was about to open. While I was there evaluating his business, he randomly asked if I would go over and help them unload produce. They were so grateful for me helping them that they told me I had to try all of their products. I told them “I’m from South Louisiana. No offense, but I don’t really do juice. So don’t be offended if I spit it out.” I ended up trying it and, lo and behold, I was blown away. I went from hating vegetables my whole life to drinking this green juice loaded with them—and loving it. I couldn’t believe it. I thought, “If this can win me over, it can win anyone over.” I’m the perfect case study.
And so that was a moment I’ll never forget. I had tried a million different diets and had never really been able to enjoy healthy food before this. So in my mind, I'm like, this is a brand that really could bridge the gap in reaching people who need healthy eateries the most. I then started asking about their business model. This was actually a few days before they opened and they told me they expected to make about $30,000 a month, and I thought they were wildly underestimating what they could do.
When I left, I called my partners and told them both, “Mark my words, we’re about to go into the juice business.” I had them both come up and try it and they had the same experience I did. Once the store opened that Monday, they sold out of everything by two o'clock and did over $90,000 the first month. That was kind of like validation for what I already felt inside. And so we negotiated a deal to create the franchise entity of Main Squeeze Juice Co. We got that entity founded in July of 2017—and the rest is history. Now, we get to do something that helps people every day and build the franchise business model that is highly profitable and successful.
1851: What void does Main Squeeze Juice Co. fill? What was missing in the space before?
Nieto: Finally, we've found a way to make healthy easier. There’s a lot of healthy eating concepts today, but the reality is that it's not easy being healthy today. You can choose from burgers, tacos, pizza, chicken – everything you can possibly think of on every single corner. But what’s missing is healthy food that is quick and convenient. It just doesn’t exist. I think that’s the big gap that we feel we have finally filled.
1851: What are you doing well right now? What are your brand’s differentiators?
Nieto: I think one thing that we're doing really well right now is that we have cultivated an incredible team here. We haven't lost anybody since they started working. We really have an incredible culture. And if you talk to any of our employees, they're gonna tell you the same thing. When I bring somebody on board, we're hyper hyper selective on who we bring on our team. I'm not bringing anybody on board that's not going to be with this for the long haul. And so we're very, very selective. We have to make sure that that person has the right culture fit, and I think that is a product of bringing in the right people.
Of course, it’s the same with our franchisees, too. We all believe in the brand, and I just think that when you have genuine passion, even a small group of people can change the world and they're always going to outperform everybody else. They're going to find better ways to be able to make things easier for our customers.
1851: What are your growth goals and vision for the future?
Nieto: I genuinely view this brand as a brand that is just too good not to share with the rest of the world. We have to get the brand to as many distribution points as possible. Because, from my view, our mission is making healthy easier, but it's impossible to make healthy easier if we're not there. And I think that everybody deserves to have a convenient, affordable and tasty option that is going to help fuel their body and help people be the best version of themselves. And so the mission is spreading the word. It's expanding the brand to as many communities throughout the United States first and one day, throughout different parts of the world.
When you look at who our actual competitors are, you don't have anybody that has a national footprint. And so there's an opportunity there. There's an opportunity for market share, and to really be the dominant player in the space. We're doubling down on everything unit level economics wise for existing structure, while simultaneously expanding the brand and our footprint. We want to be able to really be the dominant player in the space and right now that is only about 100 units away from us.
1851: What are three of Main Squeeze Juice Co.’s most important milestones over the past five years?
Nieto: In Q1 of 2018, we were able to attract some celebrity attention with Marques Colston, who was the New Orleans Saints Super Bowl champion wide receiver. That was a milestone because it really gave early credibility to the brand. That helped us get the word out and helped us with investor confidence in the franchise, as well as prospect franchisees wanting to partner with the brand.
Another one was the opening of our first corporate location in Katy, Texas. That was Valentine's Day 2018. Opening our first franchise location in September 2018 was another milestone. Also, when we hit the 50 unit mark in terms of licenses sold, that was a big milestone for us.
Additionally, when we developed our enterprise app, which is a one of a kind mobile app and one of the ways that we really deliver on convenience and making healthy easier. Our curbside pickup is next level. It has geofencing built into it that automatically pings the restaurant when customers get into a certain radius. We're the only brand that is out there waiting for you and not the other way around. I think launching that was a huge milestone and a testament to all of our efforts.
1851: What were some learning opportunities that Main Squeeze Juice Co. leveraged to get where it is now?
Nieto: One of the major things we have learned is that partnering with the right people is everything. Just because somebody has the criteria and the qualifications on paper, doesn't necessarily mean that this is the right fit for them. It doesn't mean that they're bad people or that they're not successful people, it just means that making sure that the right fit is important. There has to be a philosophical agreement and unity with what we believe from a core value standpoint.
I'd say another lesson that we continue to learn is being able to be good and better listeners with our franchisees. When you start, you just kind of assume that if there's problems, people are just going to let you know. But the reality is, you really need to have communication. This is something we learned especially as we grew. As you reach certain inflection points you learn that, just because something made sense to do at one point, it doesn’t mean it’s going to work forever. You have to rethink the process.
Another major thing we've learned is that you've got to do more with less. We've got a super passionate team and everybody's trying to focus on a million different projects. And there's a good argument that can be made for everything that's being worked on. But at the end of the day, we can't do work and be busy just to do work and be busy. We need to focus on results and what's going to make a real impact. So it's about doing more with less.
1851: What is your ideal franchisee like in terms of how they run their business, what personal traits they have, what prior business experience they can claim, what kind of investor model they align with, etc.?
Nieto: Our ideal franchisee is somebody with a proven track record ideally in brick and mortar retail restaurants. Somebody that has the experience and the track record of winning in a restaurant. If they have a franchising background, even better. And then there's the heart side of it. We have to have a philosophical alignment with core value beliefs. This includes culture and the purpose behind why we do what we do
1851: What does an ideal franchisee look like? Are they semi-absentee? A passive investor or an active owner-operator?
Nieto: Going forward, we will only do a deal with owner operators.
1851: How does Main Squeeze Juice Co. support franchisees?
Nieto: Once somebody signs with us, they're assigned to James, my director of development, and we have a whole onboarding process where we go through the roadmap to be able to get their store open. In regards to real estate, we have a process where we're actually looking for a site, approving the sites, evaluating the criteria to determine if there's going to be excessive construction costs to make sure that that's being factored into the negotiations and that you're getting the right tenant allowance from the landlord. After they sign their lease, they're passed off to start the design process with our architect. And then help them with finding contractors. So we're hand holding them in great detail for the entire process. So you can literally not know anything and we bring them all the way through.
During that process while they're building their store, we have Main Squeeze university training, where they come into the office for two weeks. One week is classroom. And then one week is actually in one of our stores. And so we're kind of teaching them all things Main Squeeze and making sure that they have a good foundation there. When it gets close to their opening, we go and do a corporate walkthrough and make sure everything's where it needs to be. And then we schedule the store staff training, and deploy our resources to be able to help facilitate the staff training for their team.
Then there's a silent opening period for that very next week. That's where we just don't even advertise that we're open. We literally just turn the open sign on, so that we’re bringing in customers at a very low pace and can reinforce that training. During opening weekend, the floodgates open and we're preparing them to create a fantastic first impression with the community. And then we even stay there throughout that whole time. After opening, there's endless support. My entire team is busting their ass every single day for our franchisees.
1851: What growth plans does the brand have in the coming years? How many units is the brand targeting over the next year, three or five?
Nieto: We want to have 100 units open and operating by Q3 of 2024. And over the next five years, we want to have 250 locations open and operating.
The initial investment associated with opening a Main Squeeze Juice Company store will range from $382,500 to $574,000. For more information on franchising with the brand, visit https://www.mainsqueezefranchise.com/.
*To see the full fees and financials, please reference the 2022 Franchise Disclosure Document Item 7 and Item 19.