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Three Lessons I Learned in My First Year as a PJ’s Coffee Franchise Owner

By: PJ's Coffee

Category:PJ's Coffee Franchisees

Marielena Saenz was a business owner and teacher before she found her way to PJ’s Coffee. Before becoming a franchisee, she worked as a school administrator, teacher and principal. In other words, Marielena is a natural-born leader.

She knew she wanted to open a coffee shop, but it took some research before she landed on franchising. “I started off wanting to do mom and pop,” Marielena said. “I saw the business model and thought it would do well in Monahans.”

The front of Marielena's PJ's Coffee shop franchise

At the time of Marielena’s store opening, the West Texas city of just under 8,000 didn’t have a single coffee shop of its own. In fact, Monahans’ commerce and infrastructure have been a topic of interest for Marielena for most of her life, having grown up there and subsequently moved back with her family. A PJ’s Coffee franchise was an opportunity for Marielena to make Monahans as great as she knew it could be, even as she’s been learning the ropes herself.

What You Need To Know When You Open a Coffee Shop

“We learn something new every day,” Marielena said about her first 17 months owning a coffee shop franchise.

As she quickly discovered, despite the fact that she’s owned and operated multiple businesses, their PJ’s Coffee location has come with a few surprises:

Our Franchisee Family

It was important to Marielena from the start that her newest business venture would play a role in her community involvement; she quickly discovered that our brand has been built top to bottom with the community in mind.

“I talk to other franchisees to make sure we’re all on the same page and help the other franchisees with their openings,” Marielena said. “It’s really helped us accomplish our goals.

The Food Service Industry Comes With Unique Challenges

In Marielena’s past career as a school administrator and in other commercial industries, she’s never had quite the same level of concern about supply and waste. Since the start of the pandemic, supply chain disruption has become a major issue across all industries, and for many franchisees, this is at the top of their mind when researching the business model.

However, at our franchise, we’ve long maintained tight relationships with all our suppliers to make sure our partners can operate their coffee franchise without major disruptions.

You Have To Be Ready for Anything

Having started her business at the peak of the pandemic has meant that for Marielena it’s been imperative that she remain agile. The important thing for her business’s success has been treating each obstacle as a lesson.

“We’ve had to change things almost every month, the business has been growing so fast,” she said, reflecting on her first year.

Marielena being awarded for her PJ Coffee franchise's community involvement

Building a City One Entrepreneur at a Time, Starting With One Coffee Shop Franchise

“We built our coffee shop from the ground up,” Marielena explained. She wanted to establish her store on Monahans’ east side, where no other businesses existed at that point. Since she’s opened her PJ’s Coffee a hotel has sprung up, and she and her husband have built a shopping center that they’re currently in the process of populating.

Marielena’s passion has truly been to make Monahans into a growing city, one with energy and attractions, and one where other entrepreneurs can imagine their own business. “It’s not just a coffee shop. We’re showing that if we can do it, they can do it too.

More and more people come to Marielena and her family asking how to get involved with franchising. The more people franchise, the more resources Monahans has for the people that live there. It’s about building the community up, and not just making money.

PJ’s Coffee Franchise: A Springboard for Knowledge

In the next year, Marielena has some personal goals she wants to achieve.

“Just to get better and better and be more knowledgeable,” Marielena said. For her, running a business is about learning and connecting with a larger community of business owners and guests alike. Her PJ’s Coffee is a means to transform her hometown from a small, isolated community into a West Texas hub of commerce.

Marielena smiling, holding a PJ's Coffee iced tea and wearing a PJ's Coffee t-shirt.

As she becomes more knowledgeable, she hopes to pay forward the guidance she’s received as she gained her sea legs over the past 17 months. She’s already been able to help usher in franchisees of other businesses into Monahans in addition to helping her fellow franchisees at PJ’s.

Suffice it to say, Marielena has big plans for her PJ’s Coffee location and her city.

Want to learn more about PJ’s Coffee franchise opportunities? Contact us today!

  • $1,042,644*

    Average Unit
    Volume (AUV)

  • 19.8%

    4-year Same-Store

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Investment Tiers
  • Traditional Model

    A larger scaled PJ's with a full service menu offering located within a strip mall or free-standing building likely featuring a drive-thru.

    • Size: 650sqft - 2,000sqft
    • Initial Franchise Fee: $35K
    • Initial Investment: $459,000- $1,152,000
  • Non-Traditional Model

    A smaller scaled PJ's possibly with a limited menu offering located within another business - College/University Campuses, Healthcare Facilities, Hotels, Government Facilities, Military Bases, Airports, Shopping Malls, Etc.

    • Size: 250sqft - 1,000sqft
    • Initial Franchise Fee: $25K
    • Initial Investment: $228,000 - $511,000
  • Multi-Unit Option Agreements

    PJ's offers opportunities to enter into a Multi-Unit Option Agreement to develop multiple PJ's over a specified development schedule in a designated market. The initial franchise fee for the first PJ’s location is $35,000. Subsequent PJ’s Units receive a reduced franchise fee. The fee for each PJ’s Unit numbered two or greater is $10,000.

  • Master Franchise Agreements

    PJ's offers opportunities to International Franchisees to enter into a Master Franchise Agreement to develop multiple PJ's over a specified development schedule in a designated country or countries.

    • Initial Master Franchise Fee: $250k minimum (Varies depending on size of country or countries)
    • Total Investment: Varies depending on the number of PJ's developed
A Few More...
  • PJs has provided me with the flexibility to prioritize my day-to-day responsibilities. While demanding, the work/life balance I have been able to obtain while owning my locations is invaluable. PJ’s is a family-oriented brand and that is evident every day - we have great working, as well as personal, relationships with many folks at corporate. It truly is a family centered culture that I am excited to grow with! - Andrew Jones
  • We loved the products and the business model, and it all worked out so well. The ability to work with them is what sets them apart. They are very reasonable people and it’s a solid company. When we went to meet the team, everyone was super kind, and it was very apparent that they provide a ton of support to their franchisees. It’s important to feel like you can always reach out to somebody when needed. - Angela Harmon
  • I think if someone is looking for a franchise opportunity they should find something that fits their lifestyle. If you're a morning person, a coffee business might be good for you. I'm a morning person so waking up at 4 A.M. is fine, the whole 'wake up and smell the coffee' thing - that's me. - Anthony Satterlee
  • I decided to look into coffee and probably spent about 3 years doing the investigation. I decided on PJ's because the quality of the product is just head and shoulders above everybody else. - Tom Lewis
  • It's easy to be successful. You can become part of your community in a way you can't otherwise in a lot of other businesses. I would highly recommend it. - Polly Fisher
  • The best part of being a franchisee is the freedom. It gives you the opportunity to provide for your family, but also be a part of your family. It gives you time to play with your children or take a vacation, but still have a fantastic business. - Kelly Songy
  • I decided owning a PJ's Coffee shop was the way to go. From start to finish, corporate was there for me when I selected a location, ordered equipment and furniture. - Mateusz Dabrowski
  • I fell in love with PJs Coffee and the brand, years before I ever owned a location and now I own two! I wanted a business that, with the right staff, would be able to operate successfully without me having to be there all day every day. PJs coffee gives you that flexibility and freedom. I also love the family atmosphere that corporate provides and the camaraderie between franchisees is wonderful! You are in business for yourself, but not by yourself, and that is a great sense of comfort and security. I love this business!

    - Roxanne DeNicola
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