When you think smoothies—think Smoothie King. With more than 700 locations worldwide—and growing—the smoothie brand is making a big name for itself in the market. That’s because passion and product quality are the driving forces behind the New Orleans-based brand’s expansion.
After joining Smoothie King during Mardi Gras 2014, Dan Hannah, vice president of international & domestic development, is responsible for developing the brand's presence across the globe. 1851 Franchise spoke with Hannah to find out how Smoothie King is positioning itself for growth and development by targeting the right people and locations for the brand.
1851 Franchise: What do you look for when considering franchisees and areas for development? What are the key components that make up a successful market and a successful franchisee?
Dan Hannah: There are many traits that we look for when considering turning a prospect into a franchisee. First, the prospect must meet our financial requirements, which include having a minimum credit score of 700, a net-worth of $285,000 with $90,000 of that being liquid. They must meet this criterion so that we know they can financially afford to become a franchisee and secure the financing needed to get their stores open.
Beyond that, passion for the brand and great work ethic are the major components that will allow a franchisee to be successful. Because our business model is fairly simple (and fun!), it is not required to have a background in restaurant services. Our two-week Management Training class that all new franchisees are required to participate in provides the training to manage and work within a Smoothie King store. However, we are looking for business minded prospects that are interested in developing and expanding the Smoothie King brand.
When it comes to identifying if a market will be successful, we research the population and financial demographics of the area. Smoothie King is a premium product and the price of our smoothies reflect that, so we need to ensure that there are enough people in the area can afford it. Once we have those answers, we determine what other business drivers are in the area and what the culture of the market is and if those factors will support having Smoothie King stores in the area.
1851: What have been the biggest development challenges and biggest successes (in terms of market and growth strategy) surrounding your brand this year?
DH: The largest challenge that we have seen this year is identifying key prospects to develop in new markets. Many of our largest markets are filling up with franchisees and new stores (this includes: Houston, St. Louis, Dallas, Charlotte, Atlanta). We have identified that the next big development areas are going to be Chicago and Denver, among some others. The challenge will be identifying prospects that are willing to go into these new areas with relatively no brand awareness and take on building the brand with us.
1851: What are your targeted key growth markets?
DH: Cincinnati, Denver, Phoenix, Austin, Chicago, Orlando, New Jersey, and Washington D.C.
1851: What do you think is the biggest reason for Smoothie King’s success?
DH: We have the best smoothie product on the market when it comes to nutrition and flavor. We have the best tasting smoothie on the market and are continuously improving our ingredients to maintain the health aspect of the product. Our franchisees are passionate which translates to their team members, which allows them to provide incredible experiences for our guests. We also have some of the most passionate guests out there. Once someone tastes a Smoothie King smoothie, they are hooked for the long haul. In addition to that, we have a CEO who is development driven and will not rest until we are the top quick service retailer on the market. He and the VP team have acquired a great corporate staff that works relentlessly to make this company thrive.