Rodger Menezes is ready to combine a career path with one of his passions in life — healthy living. Already an entrepreneur with 20 years of experience running his own company, Rodger recently signed a 3-pack franchise deal with Robeks.
In his previous career, Rodger moved international freight and was a U.S. Customs broker. He says the skills gained in that industry will be vital for his career as a Robeks franchise owner, but he’s also prepared himself in a new way for his Robeks job. He was recently awarded a degree in dietetics and nutrition from Florida International University.
The first site for Rodger’s franchise will be in the Neptune Beach, Florida. Eager to open, Roger has many ideas about how to reach out to the community. For example, he plans to offer a summer day camp for youth that focuses on healthy eating and learning how to blend smoothies and juices.
Here is Rodger’s story:
What did you do before owning a Robeks?
I used to own a logistics company. We sold it, and I took a few years off. I got a second degree in dietetics and nutrition and graduated in December 2014 from Florida International University. In the beginning, I didn’t have owning a Robeks in mind, but by my senior semester it was already in the plans. I purchased the agreement last April and earned a few more credits. The site selection for the smoothie franchise took several months.
How did you first learn about Robeks?
I was first a customer at the Robeks Fresh Juices and Smoothies in Miami. I liked the product enough that I inquired about possible franchising, but since I knew I was moving to the Atlantic Beach area, I thought we could develop the brand up here. I thought it would be a good opportunity to get into Robeks and see what we could do.
So your first smoothie at Robeks must have made an impression on you?
The nutritional value is in the ingredients being used. A lot of it is yogurt-based. The benefits of yogurt are well known, as well as the benefits of fruits and vegetables. I found the store on my way to doing some exercise, and I was hooked. I listen to a lot of young adults, too, and they thought Robeks was so much better than other smoothies and products offered. My target group is their age group.
Do you think health trends will have a positive impact on your business?
I do. People are not getting enough fruit and vegetables in their diets, and this is a way to increase that intake. It’s a trend for people to try to eat healthier, and a healthier type of restaurant is something people want.
There are some, too, who really like their juice for nutritional reasons and not simply to have a flavorful drink. There are those who have incorporated it into their daily lifestyle.
Having a smoothie at home is not the same as having one at the store. I tried to make one at my house, but it tastes better at the store.
Do you feel Robeks keeps up with trends?
What I’ve seen so far is that Robeks is trying to attract younger people and be more relevant. You have to do that as a franchise, and you have to make sure your product remains fresh. They do that by having new, healthy products on board. Robeks is continuing to make the effort to stay up to date and create products that will be attractive and the public will want to buy.
They’re also creating a new version of the store plans; we’re lucky to be a part of that. Robeks will be remodeling stores shortly to meet the upgraded version.
What sets Robeks apart from other smoothie and juice companies?
Robeks is not too big. It has a hundred-plus stores, so you still get the great small group support from the main office in regard to getting started, finding leads, generating construction plans, and making your grand opening. There is good communication with marketing.
Were there any hurdles you had to overcome to open your smoothie franchise?
It’s a process that franchisees need to understand and follow. It’s structured well, but I really had to be patient with the process. You do have a process when you choose to work with franchises, because it’s their brand. It’s been a personal hurdle from running my own company to being part of a longer opening process. It takes a little bit longer when your site is being selected. It has to be perfect. I’m excited to run the business. I wish I could I run it tomorrow. In hindsight, it happened the way it should have, and I’m happy with my location. I have one of the best locations possible in my area for a Robeks franchise store.
What’s the location like?
It’s between Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach. It’s one of three major roads you have to take to get back and forth to the area. It’s anchored by a Publix and shares a shopping center with a GNC. It’s within a mile from the beach, so people can stop on their way to or from the beach. I think we will get a lot of exposure.
The area is not as seasonal as people make it out to be. There’s plenty of business happening in the winter months. It’s not a huge tourist area, but it has a lot of traffic and a lot of boutique restaurants.
So people can stop by the beach and have a good smoothie?
Yes, juicing and smoothies work with all generations. The Millennials and the Baby Boomers are trending toward juicing and healthy products. It attracts all ages. This is a very active area; there are bikers and walkers. Children still walk to school here. It’s very family-oriented. There are lots of health-conscious people in this community. It goes with beach living.
How will you use your new degree in dietetics and nutrition to help your customers?
We will be offering a day camp to the local youth, blending some drinks and teaching them nutritional values such as the benefits of fruits and vegetables, as well as some other ideas. That’s what we’ll be doing in the summer. We’ll bring experts to the store to talk about nutritional value in broccoli, for example. I have the degree, and my wife, Kristina, will be helping me with the business. It’s important to teach people. I like doing it.
I’ll definitely help customers figure out what would be best for them and give them suggestions. I’ll be able to help them by giving them what I learned.
What do you hope owning a Robeks franchise will do for your life?
We ran our business for 20 years, and I’m looking forward to getting back to business. We chose Robeks Fresh Juices and Smoothies to complement the healthy lifestyle that we choose to live. It adds to our philosophy that we’re trying to surround ourselves with healthy living. It will help us remain focused, and hopefully it will be an investment in which we can be proud.
Would you recommend a Robeks franchise to someone thinking about starting a business?
I would recommend it if this person had an interest in the smoothie and juicing business. I don’t think anybody should take on a franchise without doing due diligence and checking out the company. If they’re not afraid of hard work then it might be a good fit. So far, I would definitely recommend it.
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