Lauren Goodridge served in the Navy, learned about the business as a Subway franchise and is now CEO of the growing franchise Aroma Joe. Here’s why it was the right way.


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Aroma Jo's Leader: 'How I Learned To Be The CEO'Lauren Goodridge is no stranger to hard work. After enlisting in the Navy in 1984, he was recruited for the nuclear power program and underwent two years of intensive training (which had a very high attendance rate). He spent the next six years on fast-attack and ballistic-missile submarines.

He loved work, but when his military career came to an end, Entrepreneur’s issues inspired him to start a new adventure. Franchising. (Thanks for reading, Lauren!) He became Subway Franchisees and eventually went on to help launch the coffee franchise Fragrance of, Where he now serves as CEO.

Fusing his military training with his on-the-ground franchise experience, he has helped develop the New England-based chain from 17 locations to 69 in five states and expects to hit 400 locations nationwide by 2028 is.


Why did franchising appeal to you?

In the Navy, you go to sea for three or four months at a time, and when you are on the sub, you have nothing to read and work on. I will take every business magazine I own. At that time, the entrepreneur ranked subway and mail box etc. as number 1 and number 2 Franchisee. I didn’t really care what business I did, but I was married and wanted to succeed. So in 1992 I opened my first subway. I eventually had about 30, and still have 18.

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How was your subway experience for Aroma Joe?

In 2012, I opened a subway that was co-located with Aroma Joe’s Coffee Shop, and I became friends with the owners, who had grown the company at 13 locations. They asked me to be their first franchisee. I was very close to Subway cofounder Fred Deluca, and he helped us get started with some legalities and became a part owner of Aroma Zoe. The company opened its first franchise location in September 2013. Now we have got 69.

As you develop the brand into a franchise, what changed

When I arrived, Aroma Joe’s was running at 41 percent of the cost of goods sold, and that was fine for them. But this does not work for a franchise model. Since we are able to reduce our cost of goods by 30 percent by purchasing cooperatives and putting contracts together. For a franchise system, you also need very good cash and inventory control, so we created a custom point-of-sale system and new inventory controls.

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Does your time as a franchise prepare you for life as a franchisor?

Every decision that I make as CEO, I look at through the lens of a franchise. I know that if my franchisees are not profitable, my company will not be profitable – or sustainable.

What lessons did your naval career teach you when it comes to franchising?

Navy does a great job in teaching Leadership skill. That is why former military personnel make such great franchises. We try to teach our young franchisees and managers to be good leaders. This may be lacking in the franchise industry, particularly in the QSR world. We try to help millennials and Gen Xers advance by teaching them leadership skills that do not come naturally. This is a skill that you need to learn through experience.

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Originally posted on September 18, 2020 @ 8:46 pm

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