For Alexandra and Fred Myers, communication and loyalty are two key elements that have helped them in building a successful fleet of Smoothie King locations with Alexandra in the ownership role and Fred taking the helm of finances.
Their joint post-MBA Naval experience has refined these qualities in the siblings, fueling their unstoppable business formula, which is appropriately named “Smoothie Sailing.”
Their appropriately named LLC, Smoothie Sailing is led by Alexandra in the key operations roll with Fred overseeing the numbers side of the business. Together they’ve grown their Smoothie King footprint across eight locations and six states: Hurlburt Field Air Force Base, Eglin Air Force Base, Fort Campbell, Fort Benning, Fort Bliss, Fort Polk and Barksdale Air Force Base.
Alexandra shared some of her key learnings since opening their first location in 2005 with 1851:
1851: What first attracted you to the Smoothie King brand?
Alexandra Myers: I was probably 12 years old when I first tried Smoothie King with my uncle; I grew up in New Orleans, so I’ve been familiar with the brand for a long time. After college I moved to California and there were plenty of places you could get a smoothie, but I never found any I considered to be as good as Smoothie King, and then during my time in the military I also found a shortage of healthy food options on the base. When I decided I wanted to start my own business, I immediately saw an opportunity with Smoothie King not only because of the quality of the product, but also the growth opportunities the brand has to offer, particularly on U.S. Military bases.
1851: What have been some of the challenges you’ve faced in growing your business and how have you overcome them?
AM: With our business model focused on expansion on military bases, we have a unique challenge in the fact that we have to go through the government procurement process when we want to open a new location. It can be complicated and time consuming, so we have focused on very carefully analyzing not only the retail space available on a particular base, but also the type of personnel living there. We look at things like whether or not the base is a training facility, or if it’s a base where servicemen and women are living for extended periods. We then proceed only with those that are a match for our growth plan and business model.
In addition, because we are targeting military bases, our locations are spread out across several states, and the challenge there is keeping operations running smoothly from afar. The franchise model has been helpful to us particularly with this challenge, because there is a system and procedure in place for everything from marketing and inventory to hiring and training. Without a proven model that can be replicated, it would be much more difficult to operate multiple locations that are so spread out geographically.
1851: What previous experience do you attribute your success to?
AM: Both my brother and I served in the Navy, and the importance of communication is ingrained in us. We both are able to approach each day with the confidence that the other will not make a major decision affecting the business without consulting each other first. My experience in the Navy at a young age managing large groups of people with varying personalities has also proven to be invaluable in a retail setting where hiring, training and managing is a big factor in the success of the business.
We also both went to business school after our time in the military, which has paid off ten-fold. We both possess the financial know-how to adhere to the business model and make sound business decisions on a daily basis.
1851: What are your future growth plans?
AM: Going back to what attracted me to the brand in the first place, the growth opportunities are pretty remarkable once you get your feet wet and can replicate the model in multiple locations. By the end of this year we’ll have 10 total locations; additional ones are under development in Harker Heights and Fort Hood as a part of the new exchange—both in Texas. And there’s no telling what the future will hold. We both want to continue to grow and benefit the military communities where our locations are operating; our goals for the business are aligned which I’m confident will continue to impact our success in a positive way.
1851: What would your advice be to a franchisee who is just starting out, or someone considering buying their first franchise business?
AM: I think a business partner is important, especially if you’ll be opening in multiple geographic areas - having two people that can cover ground and be in two different places at the same time will be very helpful to you. But it needs to be someone you trust, and more importantly, someone you can be painfully honest with. You need to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses so that each of you can focus on the areas where you’ll bring the most value. When there’s a problem, attack it, not each other.
Alexandra Myers is happy to be able to satisfy the entrepreneurial spirit she’s always had, while still being able to maintain close ties with the military by meeting the needs of today’s servicemen and women, for a healthy food option while hard at work protecting our country.