Why My Juice Bar Almost Went Out Of Business
Along the journey of reaching the point where I had two highly profitable juice bars in Los Angeles's there were many challenges. There were multiple times, especially in the beginning, when I honestly did not think we were going to make it. Hopefully you can learn from the mistakes I made so your juice bar becomes a massive success.
Within the path to reaching any goal, it usually isn't a straight line. Nine out of 10 times you are going to face challenges. The question is, can you overcome them?
The Backbone To A Successful Business
When I first got into the juice business I had a juice truck in Los Angeles. I remember at the beginning only making $150 a day in sales, which wasn’t even enough to cover our produce costs. The primary problem with what I was doing at this point was location.
Everyday we would move to a different spot, so even if people liked our juice, it was really hard for them to find us. It came to a point where we really needed a solid location. We ended up finding a spot in a parking lot of Trader Joe's. Through this I learned that building consistent relationships with customers is the backbone to a successful business.
I was aware that the people who shop at trader Joe’s were more health conscious and that Trader Joe's didn’t serve juice. After parking there our sales went through the roof and we opened a store one year later. The number one reason your juice bar will fail is a poor location. Take your time and wait for the ideal spot. Once you open your store you cannot move it!
The Major Lesson I Learned
Even after opening my first storefront, there was a time when I really thought we were going to go out of business. Looking at our financials in the first few months it was a real possibility that we wouldn’t have the cash flow to keep going for even another month.
Again I had to make big decisions in order to make a major shift. This is a major lesson I learned. You can’t change a few small things in your business and expect major changes. You might have to completely change how you are approaching things.
Letting Go Of My Best Staff Member
The first thing I had to do was let go of a few key staff members. I had one manager who I was paying really well–and it’s not that she wasn’t worth the money–it was that I honestly could not afford to keep her on. It was a tough conversation letting her go, but it was something I had to do in order for my business to survive.
It is fine line to walk between paying people enough so that they feel good about the effort they are putting in, and paying so much that you can’t afford it. Never underpay your staff, but also know the limitations of your resources.
The other major decision I made was cutting my whole menu in half. We were trying to do way too much at the beginning, having as many as 30 items on the menu. Many first times business owners fall into this trap of trying to do everything for everyone. This can be dangerous and lead to the demise of your juice bar.
We were getting a lot of spoilage on our produce. We literally had everything under the sun from bell pepper drinks to arugula. It was overwhelming our customer to make a decision and complicating the training process for my staff. Sometimes when you try to do too many things you don’t stick out in your customer's mind. Get good at a few specific things so your customer’s have something to repeat about your business.
After making these two shifts we steadily started growing and eventually opened a second location.
Don't Be A Hopeless Romantic - Of Business
I have seen a few times other business owners listen to my stories and not heed my advice. For many first time business owners there can be a romanticism of business. People think that there won’t be challenges. They have this idea that their product is going to be so amazing that it won’t matter what happens, people will come. It’s like they think they could have a juice bar at the bottom of the ocean and people would strap on scuba gear to order a smoothie.
Don’t fall into into this snare. There will be challenges within your business. You might even get to the point that I did where you’re literally on the edge of bankruptcy. Be mature and realistic about this process. When you can take this approach, when things inevitably go wrong, you will be able to deal with them from a more centered and mature palce.
I wish there would have been resources like this blog when I was getting started. I have put together this information so that you don’t have to make all of the mistakes I made. Within my online course I cover everything you could possibly imagine so that there will not be a doubt in your mind about the success of your first juice bar.