06 Jan

Panos Joulios

published on January 6, 2017 - 2:39 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Wowza & Whirld Concepts, Inc.

What you do: Oversee all operations, marketing, new development and growth of a Jamba Juice franchise.

Education: Bachelor of Science; international business (San Francisco State University)

Age: 52

Family: Wife Heidi, son Apollo, & daughter Zoe

Tell us a little about your career to your current position.
Before purchasing our first stores in Fresno and becoming a Jamba Juice franchisee, I had a very successful career at Jamba Juice as a district manager in Northern California. One of my career highlights — and one I am very proud of — was being selected to help create our company’s B.O.O.S.T service standards that are now part of Jamba’s training culture. (The Fresno teams led the company in service and were the role-model franchise group that helped to write the standards).
Prior to that, I worked for other high-profile hospitality companies including Starbucks, Johnny Rockets, Chevys, Il Fornaio, and a number of startups. In addition to working in the restaurant industry, my wife and I started a publishing company and a Hobby Craft store in Davis, Calif, I guess you could say I’ve always been entrepreneurial.

What drew you to Jamba Juice?
My wife Heidi and I always believed in eating healthy, consuming all natural ingredients, and leading an active lifestyle ever since our children were young. This positive way of life turned into an opportunity to work with Jamba corporate, a company that shares those same values. When Jamba began franchising it was a natural fit, and also just as important for us to partner with a company that believes in giving back to the community, as we do. For instance, in our current Fresno and Clovis Jamba stores, we partner up with local charities to help raise money for schools and organizations. Our fundraising efforts have raised almost $200,000 give back this year alone.

How has the Fresno area been as far as a Jamba Juice territory?
The Fresno County area has been an incredible place to do business and the local communities have been extremely welcoming and supportive. I believe the distinct difference is that families appreciate the fresh and healthy products we provide, while using all natural ingredients in our fresh juices, Acai bowls, and Classic smoothies. In my recent store visits, I have seen first-hand that health is very much top of mind in Fresno with the influx of new gyms, and people visiting us before and after workouts for their protein, and whole food smoothies.

What are your expansion plans?
Our plans are to open more stores in the Fresno area, and in particular, would love to open a Jamba drive–through! If the opportunity presented itself, I would like to be on the Fresno State campus, and in Madera. Currently, we own eight Jamba Juice stores in the Fresno and Clovis areas, and employ over 150 employees.

What advice can you offer entrepreneurs interested in purchasing a franchise?
Look at your relationship with your franchisor more like a partnership in achieving your paralleled goals. This mindset is critical in order to have a healthy relationship that grows and matures, because at the end of the day, it creates a win-win. The more stores you are able to open the more success you share.
Choose the franchise concept you want to invest in wisely. My philosophy has always been to believe in what you do and be passionate about the brand you represent. You have to enjoy what you do every day and have fun. Otherwise, it just becomes work.

What are some important issues facing the franchise industry?
Two of the biggest challenges facing our industry today are the rising costs of labor, and health care. Minimum wage is a sensitive subject, because you want to provide great wages to your team members, but it’s a balance with how aggressively it’s being mandated. To help offset, businesses must look at operating efficiencies, staffing, reducing cost of goods, and minimal price increases.  
Health care costs are also a concern. The more full time employees you employ, or have working over 30 hours a week, you must provide health care, as mandated by law. Again, it is a wonderful thing to be able to provide health benefits, so businesses need to figure out ways to curtail the rise in costs.

What are some causes or issues you support and why?
My wife and I strongly believe in children’s education, and supporting local schools that help make a difference. Our company has initiated several years of backpack drives, donated money for gym equipment through Donors Choose, and helped create Garden Grants with Jamba corporate’s partnership. My wife Heidi is an educator, author, and illustrator and has written children’s books on matters concerning the environment. She has voluntarily put together an educational assembly and gone to several schools in the Fresno area speaking to hundreds of kids at one time. Heidi inspired a movement in our Jamba stores to create awareness about the ocean, and also partnered up with Aquarius Aquarium (Fresno Aquarium), to raise $10,000. Making a difference in our community really matters to us.

Tell us about a mentor(s) that had a big impact on your life.
I have had several great role models and mentors in my past careers, but one leader that stands out the most was meeting Howard Schultz of Starbucks. On a couple of occasions, I had the privilege to tour with him in the Bay Area, and I will never forget how passionate he was about the brand. He would ask me questions about what I thought were things that made a great company, ask me about my views on the company’s direction, and always asked about my family. My take away from Howard’s advice inspired me to always strive to be the best at what I do, and to always continue to stretch myself. At the time, Starbucks was a little known coffee company of roughly 850 stores.

What was the best advice you ever received?
The best advice I ever received was to always be honest about who I am, and to continue to be genuine.  If you don’t go out on a limb, you will never know the outcome of taking a chance (…and it never hurts to ask). This advice has served me well over the years and has created opportunities I could never have imagined.

What are your roots in the San Joaquin Valley?
The opportunity to own Jamba Juice stores brought my wife Heidi and I to the Valley. However, my Jamba family and connections to the community are helping us grow strong roots! We couldn’t be happier owning stores in both Fresno and Clovis and really getting the chance to connect with the local communities through a shared passion.

What was your very first job and what did you learn from it?
My first job was working as a barista in San Francisco’s North Beach district. It helped create a solid work ethic for me, taught me a lot about integrity, and taking pride in my work. I learned how to make great foam on cappuccinos and I now have a lifelong fascination with cannolis!  Honestly, working in that cool café environment helped me understand that I wanted to be a business owner someday.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love spending time with my family. I keep active by playing golf and exercising, and enjoy traveling. Heidi and I often talk about creating a health and wellness cultural center that focuses on the arts and offers a variety of self-enriching activities…including great food!

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