Smoothie King franchisees and military veterans have a lot in common. Just ask Jarrod Johnson.
At the age of 37, Johnson has already served in the Marine Corps,. patrolled the streets of Houston as a police officer and now, he’s set to open his first Smoothie King in Rome, Georgia.
For 11 years, Johnson helped keep the streets of Houston safe as a police officer. But when his wife accepted a job in Rome, Georgia, Johnson decided to leave his career as a cop behind to start a new life. It was there that he made a realization: as someone who has always been dedicated to an active lifestyle—in both the military and as a cop--he was surprised to find that there were no quick and healthy food options.
“As longtime Smoothie King fans, my wife and I immediately realized how great that kind of option would be in our new hometown,” Johnson said. “The town needs a healthier food option. There are only places like Wendy’s, Arby’s and Bojangles’ in the downtown area. By opening a Smoothie King, my hope was that I can change the way the town eats.”
Today, Johnson is gearing up to open his first Smoothie King location in the fall of 2016, and he credits his experience in the Marine Corps and as a police officer for making the transition from veteran to franchisee a seamless one.
“In my experience, I’ve found that any serviceperson after duty, or even those in the reserves, would be a perfect fit in franchising because its processes are often like the military—there’s a proven system in place, and it’s up to the franchisee to properly execute it,” Johnson said. “Life in the military translates to this opportunity perfectly because Smoothie King is very structured in its approach. And with other veterans in the system, it’s nice to have fellow franchisees that I can talk with and relate to.”
Alexandra Myers shares a similar story. Myers found her passion for entrepreneurship after five years in the Navy. Now, she serves servicemen and women in a different way—as a Smoothie King franchisee. Based on her own experience, Myers felt there was a demand for healthier food options on military bases—so she decided to do something about it.
“I saw this as a great opportunity to bring an existing concept within a growing market sector to people seeking healthier fast food options, especially where they are often lacking accessibility on military bases,” Myers said. “I grew up in New Orleans where Smoothie King originated. I saw how it was a proven concept and a high-quality product, and I believe that when compared to our competitors from a taste perspective, the brand is the best in the marketplace. I saw a lot of potential.”
Myers is now the proud owner of 10 Smoothie King locations across the country—the majority of which are located on military bases. She believes her experience in the military prepared her for a career as a Smoothie King franchisee.
“Implementing the systems necessary to properly hire, develop and train your personnel is so important to keeping a franchise running smoothly. Being service-oriented and knowing to always put the guest first makes a big difference in a store’s success, too. These are all attributes I was lucky to hone during my time in the military,” Myers said.
Countless other veterans have found success as franchisees with Smoothie King. The brand, which is a member of VetFran, offers a 20 percent discount off the initial franchise fee. According to VetFran, franchising is a popular career choice for military veterans because many of their skills and traits from the military translate well with business ownership, such as integrity, management and thinking under pressure. And because so many franchises offer veteran incentives, it makes the transition that much easier once they return home and make their next move back into civilian life.
Today, nearly one in seven franchises across all industries nationwide is veteran-owned. In the last five years, 5,100 veterans have become business owners, and to date, there are more than 66,000 veteran-owned franchises. Combined, these businesses directly provide jobs for 815,000 Americans, and generate more than $41 billion in GDP. And in the years to come, these numbers are only expected to grow.
“There’s a certain synergy between military veterans, their work ethic and how it applies to franchising. It’s all about following a proven system. That’s what makes these individuals so special as Smoothie King franchisees,” said Chad Tramuta, the franchise development manager at Smoothie King. “Veterans also have a strong commitment to succeeding—they don’t like to fail and they’ll do everything in their power to make it happen. Over the years, I’ve seen these advantages firsthand as more and more veterans join our brand.”
Tramuta has also found that Smoothie King’s mission of living a healthy and active lifestyle naturally attracts veterans, too.
“Most military professionals, whether they’re active or retired, their routine is to stay active and fit. It’s part of their job requirement. Smoothie King tends to be a part of that for them—there’s a good chance they’ve realized the benefit of products like Smoothie King in their fitness goals,” Tramuta said. “That’s one reason out of many why Smoothie King tends to be the perfect transition for veterans.”