RainTree Helped Jamba Juice Achieve Franchise Development Goals for 2018

RainTree Helped Jamba Juice Achieve Franchise Development Goals for 2018

Franchise growth played a role in Jamba Juice’s acquisition by Focus Brands Inc. in a deal valued at $200 million

2018 has been a fruitful one for RainTree and Jamba Juice. RainTree, a franchise development agency, helped the smoothie giant make major strides on the franchise growth side in 2018. Jamba Juice met its franchise development goals for 2018 within four months of going live with its franchise sales program, and the smoothie company was also acquired by Focus Brands in a deal valued at $200 million.

There were two major challenges for RainTree in terms of helping Jamba Juice grow. One was that the smoothie brand experienced slow growth in both 2016 and 2017, and only awarded a few new franchises in both years.

“Jamba Juice’s growth rate in the previous two years was minimal,” RainTree CEO Brent Dowling said. “They sought RainTree out as the best option available in the industry to remedy that for them.” He added that in addition to slow growth, there were very specific territory growth priorities, ruling out much of the country as possible new market targets.

RainTree plugged away, though, and created geo-targeted lead generation campaigns in key markets, Dowling said.

“Jamba Juice is an iconic brand, and working with such a large enterprise over the past year has been a truly remarkable experience and a defining moment for RainTree,” he said. “We’ve had incredible success with smaller brands in the few years prior. We truly believe we have the most effective franchise development program and team members in the industry, and just needed a chance to prove that at scale. The RainTree team exceeded even my wildest expectations in this case; I couldn’t be more proud. It’s caused a lot of buzz in the industry; I’m now literally turning away more than 5 brands a week on average, simply because we have to stay quite selective of the brands we represent.”

Loren Bontrager, the director of franchise business development for Jamba Juice, praised RainTree’s methods, sales team and creativity in helping the Jamba Juice brand grow. He specifically cited “highly-produced videos for both franchise support and franchisee testimonials,” as well as RainTree’s great relationship with portals and franchise broker groups. There is also RainTree’s digital component and targeted social media ads.

“They understand website SEO and how to increase your organic lead stream,” Bontrager said of RainTree. “They have a great way of packaging the franchise opportunity, presenting it to the right audience and then certainly following up and picking up the phone quickly when leads come in.”

Bontrager’s relationship with RainTree goes back a long way. He previously worked with RainTree when he was at Teriyaki Madness in a franchise growth capacity, and so he already knew what the company was capable of when he joined Jamba Juice in August 2017. He immediately suggested that Jamba Juice bring on RainTree to help with their franchise growth efforts. The timing was perfect, as the smoothie giant was going through many changes. Jamba Juice did not have an in-house development team and there were very few employees. Most had been let go or had left for other opportunities.

“That’s why I felt so comfortable coming into Jamba Juice saying ‘I believe in this team,’” Bontrager said. “They’ve got a strong qualifier and sales team and process. It was a big transition period for the brand and made a lot of sense because we could move a lot more quickly and mitigate some of our risk of bringing people in-house and spending money by getting a result-driven program in place.”

The relationship between the two brands just might have helped in another major way. In August 2018 it was announced that Focus Brands acquired Jamba Juice in a deal valued at approximately $200 million. Jamba Juice will go from being a publicly-traded company to being privately held, Bontrager said.

“RainTree played a really big part in making us a viable option for Focus Brands,” Bontrager said.

He has nothing but high praise for the way RainTree conducts business and how well they work with brands.

“They are an extension of whatever brand they represent,” Bontrager said of RainTree. “They put on the colors of whoever they’re representing and it’s not the other way around. They are great at following direction, at being flexible and at being able to make changes very rapidly and quickly. It’s just as if they were on your internal team, and that’s a huge benefit.”

RainTree’s partnership program includes franchise packaging, lead generation and franchise sales. The company has helped companies award over 1,000 franchises since it started in 2013.

Raintree Has Propelled Screenmobile to New Development Heights

Raintree Has Propelled Screenmobile to New Development Heights

How ScreenMobile has utilized RainTree’s franchise development expertise over the last 5 years to achieve sustained unit growth

When ScreenMobile president and CEO Scott Walker was shopping around for a franchise development partner to grow his established on-site window and door screen repair and replacement franchise, culture was his biggest priority. The brand was signing about three franchise agreements per year and Walker was looking to jumpstart expansion. He had already unsuccessfully interviewed three companies before consulting  RainTree, where he was met with the honesty and commitment he had been seeking.

“The RainTree team’s straightforward, real language and practicality was totally different than the other franchise development companies I’d talked to. RainTree made no lofty promises and shared our view that working hard leads to progress and success means being flexible and accommodating along the way,” Walker said. ScreenMobile enlisted RainTree’s services, and the relationship has only grown strong over the past five years.

From the start of the relationship, RainTree and ScreenMobile worked as a team. “As a mature brand with solid system implementation and support, we knew our strengths. RainTree’s knowledge and understanding of the franchise development world leveraged those strengths to bring growth to our system,” Walker said.

RainTree focused its efforts on improving ScreenMobile’s ability to develop leads and implement an education process that results in the recognition of good franchise candidates. “We really put a lot of effort into their website and franchise brochures in the beginning,” RainTree CEO Brent Dowling said. “We were strategic about implementing some really smart geo-targeted lead generation campaigns to reach our development goals,” he added.

What resulted over the next several years of partnership was a rise in signed franchise agreements that consistently falls within the range of 8-12 per year, almost triple the number that existed before ScreenMobile’s partnership with RainTree.

RainTree also helped ScreenMobile refine its franchise sales process and establish an exit strategy. “Brent helped us define a resale process so that when our franchisees get to certain level, they can engage with a professional team to assist in exiting the business,” Walker said. He also credits Dowling’s team with building ScreenMobile’s credibility among the broker community, which has led to an increase in broker business due to an assurance that leads are nurtured professionally.

But beyond the quantifiable returns, both Walker and RainTree Vice President of Franchise Development Brian Knuth point to the strong, tenured relationship between the companies as the most rewarding return. “We just really enjoy the people we get to work with,” Knuth said. “When you get to year four and five with a franchise, it feels like your own brand. It’s been really cool to see the relationship between the RainTree team and the ScreenMobile team blossom, and I think that’s a big part of why we’ve achieved success together.”

Walker pointed to RainTree’s expertise and professionalism as catalysts for a shift in franchisee perception of the ScreenMobile brand. “I wasn’t expecting RainTree to change the dynamic and perception of our franchisees about the brand. By putting a real team in place to develop and grow the brand, it really built up franchisee confidence and validation.” Additionally, Walker said his leadership team’s professionalism and sales acumen has risen to the next level through working with RainTree, something he called “interesting and rewarding.”

“RainTree knows what they are doing. They are professionals with great team behind them that can help a system at my stage to grow and develop,” Walker said.

Why Portals & Brokers Alone Aren’t Cutting it in Franchise Development

Why Portals & Brokers Alone Aren’t Cutting it in Franchise Development

With the evolution of the digital age, portals and brokers can’t be a brand’s only means of lead generation in the franchise sales process anymore

Before Google reached the peak of its powers, franchise portals and brokers were the go-to sources for prospective franchisees to connect to the ideal opportunity for them. Franchisors simply enlisted the services of brokers, who work to match those exploring franchise ownership with brands that are a good fit, or supplied information to franchise portals, who added their brand to a sea of other offerings to entice those same people. Since portals and brokers first emerged, the franchise sales process has evolved, demanding franchisors do more to acquire and retain leads.

Prospective franchisees have a wealth of information, news, sources, FDDs and more available at the click of the button. They have early access to a wide range of information on any brand, from investment requirements to potential profitability and pitfalls of the industry. Linton Dowling, marketing manager for RainTree, a company that specializes in franchise sales solutions, noted that prospective franchise buyers are engaging with portals and brokers at a different point in the sales process, armed with much more information and a bias toward certain brands that didn’t exist in the past.

“The great thing about the internet is that it allows people to make a much more educated decision,” Dowling said. “Now, the franchise sales process is about cutting through to your audience and keeping them engaged through the duration of the process with great content and stories beyond just saying, ‘my average unit volume is industry-leading,’” he added.

As this trend toward preemptive research and consideration becomes more common, portals and brokers alone can only take a company’s franchise development efforts so far. While acknowledging these means of lead generation still play an important role in any brand’s development, Dowling made note that as audiences become more informed, “engagement and content will be the driving forces in the franchise sales process.”

“At RainTree, we focus on building multi-channel lead generation campaigns, built with the backbone of a strong website with great user experience and visibility,” Dowling said. “We make sure to create these campaigns well-rounded and supported by not only brokers and portals, but also pay-per-click, websites, SEO, display, email and CRM-driven marketing,” he added.

Dowling noted that though the “top of the funnel” will always be key for any lead generation campaign, the cost efficiencies of non-broker leads means that Raintree places “equal, if not greater, emphasis” on other channels. “Portals do not have the ability to retarget, brokers do not have the scale or manpower to build out their own multi-channel lead generation and engagement campaigns. Their success is more personalized and operates uniquely outside of the digital space,” Dowling said.

Keeping audiences engaged with strong content delivered in a unique and powerful means appeals to the generational switch that is seeing more millennials becoming prospective franchisees.

The importance of content-driven engagement ties back to audiences being much more informed and having the ability to consume information and media at an astonishing rate, Dowling said. “As a millennial, I am often astounded by how quickly I can consume and digest stories and information,” he said, adding, “There are many brands out there selling prospects on their unique products and solid numbers, but that can quickly become white noise to audiences.”

RainTree’s emphasis on engaging prospective franchisees through a variety of channels with content that is relevant and relatable is a key driver in the company’s successful client deliverables. “We have invested heavily into what we believe is an industry-leading CRM that focuses on engagement and authenticity,” Dowling said. Franchisors that prioritize understanding and catering to the growing digital-centric generation exploring franchise ownership are best equipped to attract and retain leads.

Raintree CEO Brent Dowling is on a Roll & Isn’t Stopping

Raintree CEO Brent Dowling is on a Roll & Isn’t Stopping

Dowling and his team have grown RainTree into a company that can help franchise brands of all sizes and industries achieve their sales goals

Brent Dowling wasn’t supposed to get into franchising.

Today, he’s the CEO and co-founder of RainTree, a franchise development firm.

An Australian native who often found himself in the Colorado Rockies as a competitive Snowboarder, Dowling thought he’d found his dream job working in the General Assembly of the United Nations. Ultimately, he decided to leave the field and pursue his MBA after realizing it wasn’t a fit for him.

While completing his MBA, he came across franchising and thought it was an overlooked industry deserving much more attention. He said he didn’t realize it was such “a massive industry,” and decided he could put his skills to use in it. He moved to Denver to be with his then-girlfriend, now-wife and to pursue his new dream.

Once in Denver, he started working on a part-time basis at Doc Popcorn before he went full time, and he worked there with his future RainTree partner, Mike Edwards. Together, they helped Doc Popcorn grow from 10 units to more than 100 franchisees and 400 units within three years. During that time, Dowling said he and Edwards were approached by different franchise brands and were asked to join their teams and help them grow.

“After that happened a few times, it became pretty clear that there was a demand for folks like us in franchise marketing and franchise sales and we figured ‘Why just help one more company when we can definitely scale this and help multiple companies at a time?’” Dowling said.

Together, Dowling and Edwards decided to launch RainTree.

RainTree’s main focus is to help franchise brands grow, and it has come a long way since it was founded in 2013. It started off working with just a few smaller clients, but the past year has seen major growth for the company. While RainTree still works with smaller clients, it now also works with larger, more established brands, including Jamba Juice, ScreenMobile, Anago Cleaning Systems and Famous Dave’s.

RainTree spent 2018 working to position itself for optimal growth. The brand brought in one new brand per quarter. They also grew their team to more than 30 team members and are currently “hyper-focused on ensuring each RainTree Team Member is better trained and equipped to outperform all others in their field in this industry,” Dowling said.

As much as Dowling and Edwards enjoyed their time at Doc Popcorn, they were confident in their decision to start their own company and provide functions that were typically found in-house.

“We were really excited because we knew there was this big hole in the franchising industry and we were excited to get to work and start to fill it,” Dowling said. “We grew slow, but smart in the first few years. It paid off, as we are now exceeding franchise growth goals for over 20 partners, and have carefully built the infrastructure and personnel to continue to grow from here.”

RainTree’s services include franchise packaging, lead generation and franchise sales.

Today, the company seems to turn away far more brands who are looking for a partnership, than those who they bring into their portfolio, which speaks to the major growth it has experienced over the past five years.

“The RainTree team’s straightforward, real language and practicality was totally different than the other franchise development companies I’d talked to,” ScreenMobile president and CEO Scott Walker said. “RainTree made no lofty promises and shared our view that working hard leads to progress and success means being flexible and accommodating along the way.”

Some of RainTree’s newest partners include Cheba Hut, Hounds Town USA and Footprints Floors and Songs for Seeds.

“The most surprising thing we continue to see in brands that apply to partner with us is the lack of energy that some companies are putting into their development programs,” Dowling said. “I think that we’ve learned that there’s a lot of brands out there that could use our help.”

Brands, he said, are playing catch-up, as they are often a bit behind in terms of, for example, lead generation.

“Companies do not always put the right amount of effort into their franchise development programs,” Dowling said. “What we do is we try and take a pretty well-rounded approach. We’re big believers in content. We believe in telling the story. We create a lot of video. We spend a lot of time on social media speaking to potential entrepreneurs. But before we do any of that, we do the hard yards to try to understand exactly who we need to attract to each brand, and find out what resonates with them. This type of strategic positioning takes months of continual refinement. The level of patience and flat-out hustle needed here is something we just don’t see in most brands, but something we are very proud to bring to all our partners.”

There has also been some self-development. Dowling and Edwards made the decision to become franchisors themselves so as to even better understand their partners. Although he’s had several years of experience in growing a brand and helping other brands grow their franchises, there was still something missing. He didn’t feel as if he had true empathy for franchisors, which are RainTree’s valued partners. When an opportunity came up to invest in a franchise, he did so along with Edwards.

“Becoming a franchisor has been a fascinating and rewarding experience,” Dowling said. “We are learning so much more about the industry, and now we can take those learnings and apply them to RainTree and make sure we are the best possible partners. It’s not just about results in terms of awarding franchises, it’s about being great partners for our brands and really enjoying the ride.”

RainTree projects it will bring in at least two new brands each quarter in 2019. Historically, RainTree’s clients have been smaller brands that were just starting out and needed help. Often, they were companies with only two or three locations.

“We’ve really worked hard on making sure that we’ve got a program in place that can help not just young food brands, but any brand of any size in any industry and we’re seeing that with Jamba Juice, Anago and ScreenMobile and all these different-sized organizations, and I’m really excited to now deploy that with new partners in 2019,” Dowling said. “But I tell my RainTree teammates all the time; it’s not about being the biggest. I could care less how many brands we have. It’s about being the best. That will always be the goal.”

How Raintree Helps Manage Relationships between Brands & Franchise Consultants

How Raintree Helps Manage Relationships between Brands & Franchise Consultants

Building relationships between franchise brands and consultants, as well as maintaining trust and confidence, is the key to RainTree’s approach to franchise development

Finding the right franchisees can be a daunting process for any brand, which is why RainTree provides clients with a dedicated team that helps attract qualified referrals from franchise consultants.

Enter Ashly Loza, RainTree’s Director of Brand Development.

“My role is to not only build my team of Brand Managers that provide our partnering brands with clear and concise communication between our team and theirs, but we also work with consultants,” she said. “It is my team’s role to go out and build long-term consultant partnerships by providing additional brand education through one-on-one calls, webinars and more in order to create a steady flow of qualified referrals to our brands.”

RainTree takes its relationships with their brands and consultants very seriously, and Loza describes both relationships as ones built upon trust and confidence. RainTree takes the time to understand both the brand and also the franchise consultants perspective.

“The foundation to building strong trust and confidence within these networks is to have an understanding of the consultant’s perspective,” she said. “They spend a lot of time and marketing dollars finding their clients and they have to feel confident referring that client to us and our brands we work with.”

First steps

The first step a brand should take when working with franchise consultants is to look within at the contract they have in place and make sure they have a competitive commission structure. This is an especially important step for emerging brands, Loza said.

“That really allows you as a brand to build your system and build it quickly,” she said.

Loza also advises brands to make sure they get the consultant network’s directory of consultants. It could be a list of names and phone numbers, or names, phone numbers, and emails, but having that information and using that to cultivate those relationships is crucial, Loza said.

Also, if a franchise brand representative is in a consultant’s area, they should meet consultants one-on-one or host Discovery Days, she advises. Do that one to two times a year to connect, build rapport within those relationships and continue brand education.

“They want to do business with a brand and a team they’re confident in,” she said of consultants. “Relationship building is essential, and there are many steps we take at RainTree to make sure that each of our brands has that top-of-mind awareness to that gain traction from consultants.”

Common mistakes

One of the most common mistakes brands make when working with franchise consultants is thinking that consultants will automatically come to them as long as the brand is in the inventory and has a back office presence.

“The most common mistake is assuming if you have a profile they’re going to find you and call you for more information,” Loza said. “That’s not really how this works. We’re all about creating that awareness, cultivating relationships and continuously creating opportunities to educate consultants on the opportunity and the differentiators on why your brand is different from any other brand.”

Another common mistake Loza has seen in her four-plus years working in the industry is that franchisors admit to only hosting one webinar with consultant networks a year.

“If you’re only doing one a year and say ‘This network isn’t doing much for me,’ you have to put a little more energy and effort into it,” she said. “Cultivating that awareness, hosting webinars and follow up calls – that’s how brands can achieve consistent consultant referrals.”

It’s also imperative that brands work with franchise consultants who understand their business and can communicate it effectively to their clients.

“Your goal should be to find five to ten franchise consultants that really understand your concept and may even have an emotional connection to it, so, in order to do that, there has to be constant brand awareness and follow-ups,” she said.

Brands can also create this awareness by leveraging stories within their systems, Loza said.

“If your franchisee has a success story, make sure you share that content within the consultant networks,” she said. “It’s not just educating consultants about the nuts and bolts of the business model. It’s about expressing corporate culture and the story behind the brand and its people.”

Loza also advises brands to make sure their profile is updated.

“I find that a lot of Franchisors aren’t updating their back-office profiles on a consistent basis,” Loza said. “Most consultant networks have back-office profiles, and consultants can collect information about the brand from there. RainTree updates our brands’ profiles on a quarterly basis since we experience steady growth within new markets for our brands. Some Franchisors do it on an annual basis, and as your system grows, those updates, including FDD updates, are crucial. If a franchise consultant goes through your profile and it hasn’t been updated over an extended period of time they’ll just move on. They will not take 20 minutes to find out what that info should be, they will just move on to another brand that has up-to-date information so making sure you are proactive in updating your profile is a great first step.”

RainTree’s role

Successful relationships between brands and franchise consultants all ties back to building that trust and confidence.

“It’s our responsibility to make sure we’re building those relationships, building that trust and building that confidence,” Loza said. “What RainTree does is provide this on a scaled level. Since we work with 20+ brands across all industries, we’re able to leverage our existing consultant relationships we’ve built across the years to create additional awareness, whether it is a mature or emerging brand. For consultants, it makes it really simple, especially if they are a new consultant since they only have to remember RainTree versus twenty individual brands and they know what to expect when they work with us.”

This, Loza said, goes back to common mistakes that brands make when working with franchise consultants.

“You must continuously cultivate brand awareness and you do that through content and stories within your system,” she said. “At RainTree, we’re constantly asking our brands to update us on any new and exciting developments, because everyone loves talking about and hearing about stories.”

To that end, RainTree does a couple of things with its brands. For one, RainTree hosts bi-weekly or monthly phone calls and asks brands to provide new stories to highlight and share. Sometimes brands are very forthcoming about new developments in their system, while other times RainTree has “to be a detective” to find those stories and share them across consultant networks, Loza said.

RainTree also makes sure to attend consultant network events.

“Every consultant network out there has annual events,” Loza said. “Attending events is key to a brands success although, it can be time-consuming, it kick-starts building those key relationships and creates common ground. We actually attend these events on behalf of all of our brands.”

In addition to attending events, hosting local discovery opportunities for consultants is also very important, Loza said. She herself travels extensively for weeks at a time to make sure that RainTree and its brands are represented.

“Consistent e-blasts, stories, and attendance to these events and hosting Discovery Days are all ways in which RainTree helps maintain relationships and communication between brands and franchise consultants,” Loza said. “From time to time, if a brand is ready, we’ll even have consultants across the nation fly in to meet the team and experience the concept first-hand. That’s what RainTree provides, it’s consistency across all facets.”

Consistency

Bottom line: Consistency is the name of the game.

RainTree builds this trust and confidence by maintaining relationships and making sure their brand partners, as well as the brand founders, are all participating. It’s a two-way street, and participation on all ends is needed to create successful relationships between a brand and a franchise consultant which results with qualified referrals and successful placements!