Juiced for growth

Move forward

When you come up with new strategies, you may be tempted to go full-steam ahead with each of them, but White would advise you to do differently.

“The other thing that becomes important as you’re really looking at future opportunities is having a series of test pilots to be able to think through your hypothesis and prove those out in an iterative, incremental fashion,” he says.

For example, White
a
nd his team decided they wanted to add food items to Jamba’s menu. Instead of rolling them out in every store, they started small by having a test-pilot series. They created a hypothesis that there was a lack of better-for-you foods, so by adding these, it would fulfill a need in the marketplace.

“Be very clear on where you view your growth opportunities and be very clear on what the hypothesis is, and then it’s getting a large-enough sample size to be able to do some comparison of the idea versus the current stay-to-play,” he says.

They started by implementing the items at 30 to 40 stores across the company. They were also purposeful about choosing which locations to make sure they had a cross-section of the stores.

“We try to have a representation of geographies,” he says. “I’ve got stores in colder and warmer weather markets, so that’s one dimension. I’ve got different store formats, so that would be built on, so I’ve got urban and suburban stores, on college campuses, and in airports. We try to find a good blend that would be most representative of the overall chain and really bake that into the testing process.”

They were in pilot for about 90 days.

“The critical thing is that we had clear metrics in our business case and had a gated process that says, ‘Here’s what we wanted to learn coming through the process,’ and we would iterate, over time, to optimize the solution. We always have go/no-go kind of gates in the process.”

After seeing success, then they expanded to a couple hundred stores about 90 days after the initial pilot. After seeing more success in that, Jamba is now rolling it out in 300 stores this spring.

“That disciplined, rigorous process to really understand the viability of an idea is an approach I would advocate strongly,” White says.

Over the last year, White has seen his work pay off as the brand has improved. While the company isn’t quite profitable yet, that $149 million loss has been cut to just $13 million through the first three quarters of fiscal 2009, and revenue was at $250 million in that same period. Financial results aside, he’s built more brand awareness, as well, increasing the number of Jamba fans on Facebook from 60,000 in 2009 to 350,000 at the beginning of this year.

On top of that, White also says there’s no question about it — people feel calmer than they did just a year and a half ago.

“The organization is upbeat and optimistic, and we clearly expect to grow this company,” he says. “We’re going to continue to add franchise locations. We’ve had phenomenal growth on college campuses and airport locations, and we expect to double our presence in each of those locations. We hope to extend the brand into the international market in 2010. We’re building license relationships and will start to roll out a series of consumer products that will be available in key retailers this upcoming year. The company is building significant momentum, and that’s showing up in the overall optimism of the employee base.”

How to reach: Jamba Inc., (510) 596-0100 or www.jamba.com

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