Jamba Juice's Director of Franchise Business Development offers advice for industry up-and-comers.
1851: What was it that drew you into franchising?
Loren Bontrager, Director of Franchise Business Development for Jamba Juice: After spending nearly 7 years as behavioral specialist working with dually diagnosed homeless veterans, I was up for a change. I knew that my next move would have to continue to selfishly provide me an opportunity to “facilitate success” in the lives of others and reap the internal rewards of being a part of another’s success. Without any real intention, I stumbled into a role with franchise supplier that provided site selection services to a number of franchise concepts. I found that my goal of “facilitating success” was possible outside of social work and that addressing and solving a franchisee’s problems could be equally as rewarding. It was an eye opening experience to see how many franchisees emptied their bank accounts, flipped their 401ks, or went to their friends and family for funds to make their dreams of business ownership come true. I value each franchisee and the sacrifices that they have had to make to pursue such a venture and I’m humbled to be a part of their journey. After all, it’s not my money that is being spent and I keep that thought top-of-mind.
1851: What do you see as the biggest change that is going to impact the franchise industry going forward?
Bontrager: The biggest change I can see in franchising is the impact of e-commerce on retail brick-and-mortar franchises and the next recession. E-commerce essentially wiped Blockbuster and RadioShack off of the map and the next recession will likely do the same to many of the emerging franchise brands that have proliferated over the past few years. If you offer a product that doesn’t need to be experienced in some way (i.e. - touched, smelled, tasted, fitted. etc.) I would figure out a way to make that part of the buying process and if you’re an emerging brand, I would place an incredible emphasis on your points of differentiating.
1851: What do you do to help your brand stand out from the competition?
Bontrager: My role in franchise development allows me to be very selective when it comes to choosing our franchise partners. By awarding franchises to high quality partners, we’re able to develop franchisees who truly share in our mission and vision of the brand. That type of brand compatibility shows through in every aspect of their business and helps them stand out among our competitors.
1851: How did you get in the role you’re in now?
Bontrager: Networking. I’m always building my own personal brand. The franchise community is really tightknit and somewhat incestuous in terms of the crossover of personnel from brand to brand. Don’t burn bridges and always be open to new opportunities in the industry. You never know who you’ll report to next, or who may report to you!
1851: What advice would you give to other young up-and-comers?
Bontrager: Be as straightforward and effective at communicating in person and in front of crowds as you are behind a keyboard.
1851: What advice would you give to your younger self?
Bontrager: Get used to jumping through hoops and start doing it with a smile.
1851: What advice would you give to someone deciding to own a franchise?
Bontrager: Do your homework and be ready to take personal responsibility for the success or failure of your business. If you did your homework, then you’ve chosen a brand with a proven concept, strong leadership and holistic support system; the rest is up to you!
1851: What are some things you like to do in your spare time?
Bontrager: I’m fortunate enough to live in Denver, CO where I can pursue my love of music. I enjoy performing locally and as part of a band- we also have some of the best venues for catching big acts. I also have access to the best playground, the Rocky Mountains, for all things “outdoorsy”.