You could make the case that Smoothie King is part of the food franchising world, but you could just as easily argue the brand has left the headaches associated with traditional food franchises behind.
“The beauty of our model is that while we’re in the food category, we’re not dealing with the same problems,” said Chad Tramuta, franchise development manager at Smoothie King. “While we’re technically in the food category, we’re not dealing with the high food costs, the waste, the late hours.”
Any restaurant owner who has had to put in 14-plus-hour days would likely sigh with relief, but the benefits for franchisees don’t stop there.
“There is no grease,” said Smoothie King Franchise Development Manager Stephen Foley with a laugh. “There’s not as much equipment investment or storage space necessary. You don’t have to have a lot of inventory with us. Minimal square footage is needed. It’s all right behind your bar.”
In short, everything about Smoothie King has been streamlined with simplicity in mind. But it raises the question, how can a franchise that focuses on only one type of product hope to compete with food franchises that serve up a wide variety of items?
“We’ve been focusing on smoothies for 40 years,” Foley said. “Over the last five years, we’ve had steady same-store sales increases. Combined with the lower cost of goods for smoothies and labor, the potential for franchisees is only growing.”
The brand has also only begun to scratch the surface of co-branding with other names in the health food industry, not to mention launching a line of vegan products aimed at a fast-growing consumer segment.
“In the last two years, our stores have been knocking it out of the park,” Foley continued. “We’re continuing to have record-breaking store openings, and some franchisees who are new to the system are beating the company average.”
The proof is in the pudding (or, in this case, the smoothie). The brand has not just hung on for four decades, it has thrived, and franchisees who are joining the system now are coming on at a time when Smoothie King is posting significant and consistent sales growth.
While competitors in the smoothie segment are seeing flat sales or declines, Smoothie King is booming. But why?
“They started to get away from what brought them success in the first place,” Tramuta said. “We’re making sure our products are healthier, have a wider range of flavors, and are tapping into niche markets, like vegans. We ensure customer loyalty by doing one thing incredibly well. Some people try to cater to the masses, but Smoothie King is in a niche within a niche – we’re the only meal-replacement smoothie brand on the market.”
And with the way that market keeps growing, there’s no doubt the brand is on the right track.