With eight locations (each) currently open and development underway on additional locations in their respective markets, Paul McCulloch and Alexandra Myers are two of Smoothie King’s highly successful multi-unit operators who have clearly done something right along the way in growing their Smoothie King business.
As with any successful business, there are several components that need to mesh, however the first step is taking the leap and deciding to invest. “I believe in the company,” said Paul McCulloch. “Smoothie King has a long and successful history and is number one in its category.” Alexandra Myers agreed that it was the product that drew her to the brand. Both McCulloch and Myers commented on the high and ever growing demand for a healthy alternative to fast food, making the Smoothie King investment opportunity a no-brainer. Once the decision was made, McCulloch’s and Myers’ past experiences and drive helped them to create a perfect equation for success.
With leadership experience as a former Officer in the U.S. Navy and an extensive education including two degrees in engineering and an MBA, Myers says she attributes her success to using a combination of skills and knowledge from her previous experiences. “I’m always thinking critically about things that I’ve been through before and how I can apply the lessons learned to my business today.”
McCulloch says the key to success in growing a multi-unit business is a combination of knowledge in finance, marketing, team/people development and real estate. “I’m fortunate to have had the experience of building several other companies prior to investing in Smoothie King, which has really helped me to develop in the Nashville market,” he said. “And the franchisor has certainly helped; not only does Smoothie King have a stellar reputation, but the brand embodies what a franchisor should be in the sense that they provide valuable resources to franchisees who want to grow.”
Both McCulloch and Myers agree another major component to multi-unit success is the people you hire to be on your team. “Unless you’re planning on being the general manager of multiple locations yourself, you really need to put a lot of thought and serious effort toward hiring the right people,” McCulloch said. “I have a great team of people all of whom have been with me now for several years, and it’s been a huge factor in our success and will continue to be as we aim to add an additional 15 units in the Nashville market.”
Myers added, “My top advice would be to establish strong HR policies from the start and hold your employees accountable - accountability and strong training programs at the onset will result in your entire team working together and performing at a higher level.”
Even after you’ve got the perfect locations and rockstar teams in place - two elements McCulloch and Myers agree are of the utmost importance - there will still be bumps along the road to multi-unit ownership.“With eight stores open and two in development to open very soon, I can tell you firsthand one of the biggest challenges is maintaining superior day-to-day operations while managing construction projects,” said Myers. Myers says to overcome this challenge a franchisee must be extremely organized. “I always set daily and weekly priorities based on items that need to be completed by a certain date and then hold myself accountable to stick to them.”
In addition to a high level of multitasking, McCulloch added what may be one of the more obvious challenges, and certainly something any multi-unit operator needs to be thinking about: financing. “You need to have a solid business plan in place. You need to either come up with the money yourself, have a plan to raise it or figure out how you’re going to borrow it in order to support a high growth rate,” he said.
Challenges aside, from two multi-unit franchisees who continue an impressive growth trajectory; it seems the key to growth is not necessarily an exact science. It’s a combination of pulling from previous experience, taking advantage of the resources at your disposal and truly believing in the business you are growing.