How Smoothie King Found the Perfect Blender
One of the most important things contributing to Smoothie King’s growth – besides franchisees and nutritious ingredients – is only about 18 inches tall.
It is the most important piece of equipment in every Smoothie King store, responsible for blending millions of smoothies a year. The blender is a powerful little machine with a lot of responsibility riding on its motor. It consistently has to achieve the proper texture, which is key to flavor, mouthfeel and how long the smoothie lasts in guests’ cups.
The blender is also key to keeping hundreds of franchises rolling and thousands of people employed. Consequently, it needs to be cost-effective and durable. If the blender frequently needs repairs, it will have a negative impact on stores.
Therefore, finding the perfect blender is paramount to both guest satisfaction and business sustainability.
The Quiet One is the One
Smoothie King uses The Quiet One model made by Vitamix. The Quiet One features a specialized BPA-free container and lid made for Smoothie King.
“We’ve found it offers the best combination of key performance attributes, which include not only blending ability, but also speed, sound, technology, ease of operation, durability, cost of ownership, and service after the sale,” said Rocky Gettys, Vice President of Product Development and R&D at Smoothie King.
Because the blender is a vital part of our operations, which Smoothie King strives to simplify, various makes and models undergo a lot of scrutiny and testing before being chosen as the blender for all stores. Smoothie King considers whether the new blender option is viable, as well as the reputation of the blender-maker.
“We try to get an understanding of not just where the brand is now, but where it is headed in the future,” Rocky said. “If we have alignment in those two areas, we will bring a unit into our test kitchen and start blending smoothies.”
The Rigors of Becoming a Smoothie King Blender
The first test is the quality of the smoothie made by the blender. Emphasis is put on smoothies that are hard to blend and create challenges for the blender. Here’s what we look at:
- Consistency and how well the blender holds up over time
- Performance one smoothie after another
- Sound and durability of the handle, lid, and container
- Impact on blender parts, such as blades and gaskets
- Operational mechanisms – how the lid functions, how the hood functions, how the smoothie pours, impact on speed of service, and how easy it is to clean and maintain
If a blender makes it past this first phase of testing in Smoothie King’s test kitchen (they rarely do), it will advance to a test store. There, thousands of smoothies over the course of several months are blended and served to our guests. The operator ensures it blends smoothies that meet Smoothie King’s standards consistently and provides feedback on operations. Data on cost of ownership is also gathered at this time.
Only once since 2012 did a different blender make it into the field testing stage, and Smoothie King considered making a change. However, Vitamix’s Quiet One remained triumphant because the blade mechanism created a more consistent product as the blender aged. It also proved to be the best option in terms of cost of ownership over a five- to seven-year period of time.
A Blend of Ease and Business Sensibility
In order to maintain our position as a leader in the smoothie industry and help ensure brand growth, Smoothie King must outperform the competition. This means we have to use blenders that are faster, more consistent and durable. Therefore, we must also stay current with new blender technology.
The Quiet One enhances our franchisees’ operations because it is the most advanced blender for our needs. It’s easy to use and maintain. You push a pre-programed button, walk away, and the blender does everything else. It has a powerful 3 horse power motor that quickly cuts through the toughest combinations of frozen fruit and veggies, ice, proteins, peanut butter, grains and nuts, and other ingredients. Operators need to know that if they prepare a smoothie properly it will blend perfectly every time, which helps reduce costs and time re-blending smoothies.
We can now fully blend a smoothie in 30 seconds in a blender whose noise has been reduced by about 65 percent through sound engineering. The Quiet One’s durability makes the cost of ownership very reasonable. This helps ensure less impact on the bottom line, which is always a high priority for franchisees.