Why I Grew My Multi-Brand Portfolio with Smoothie KingAuthor: Smoothie King
Yonas Hagos has been working to achieve the American Dream since he and his family came to America after fleeing a Sudanese refugee camp in the 1990s.
Today, he’s a successful franchise owner with a diverse multi-brand portfolio that includes multiple quick-service food concepts and a dozen Smoothie King locations – and he shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
An Affinity for the World of Quick-Service Restaurants
Yonas developed an affinity for working within the quick-service restaurant (QSR) segment when he was just 14 years old working at a McDonald’s.
“It’s not for everyone,” Yonas said. “But there’s something about the quick pace and the camaraderie you develop with your coworkers.”
He continued working in fast food throughout high school and college. His life took a sharp turn after the events of September 11, 2001, when he decided to enlist in the U.S. Army. Yonas’s experience in Iraq was harrowing and earned him a Purple Heart.
Once he returned from military service, Yonas started a painting business and quickly realized that building his own business from the ground up was more challenging than he anticipated.
“It was pretty tough, I had to figure out things as I went – which wasn’t preferable,” said Yonas. “With franchising, there are systems in place and a network to support you.”
And even though franchising provided a more structured path to entrepreneurship than his previous business, there were still bumps along the way.
“My first Dunkin’ almost killed me – but now, it’s killing it,” said Yonas. “It just proves that everything takes time. I’ve learned from the hiccups, and I’ve been able to build a foundation over the last ten years. Now, I can go and execute my business strategies at Smoothie King.”
Motivated by the Smoothie King Mission and Vision
Yonas has always made an effort to work out and maintain a healthy lifestyle, especially when he’s on the road.
While searching for a quick and healthy lunch, his friend recommended they stop by at a Smoothie King in St. Louis. At the time, Yonas had 10 Dunkin’ locations in the St. Louis market and was focused on the growth of his Dunkin’ franchise.
After visiting Smoothie King, Yonas began to research what the brand offers as a franchise and saw that there was room for growth in the markets where he already operates; he quickly realized it was a missing piece in his portfolio.
“I was fascinated with the brand and believed in Smoothie King,” explained Yonas. “I saw a lot of myself in Wan, and, other than the product, that’s what really sold me.”
Hungry for Growth with Smoothie King
Yonas originally signed an agreement for two Smoothie King franchises.
He then heard that there were existing Smoothie King locations on the market in St. Louis and Dallas and he immediately jumped at the opportunities.
Yonas has since taken over the entire portfolio of a St. Louis-based franchisee – putting him on track to own 20 stores by the end of 2020.
“I’m interested in doing things other franchisees aren’t – I’m going the extra mile and putting money back into my portfolio,” explained Yonas.
Demonstrating his willingness to pioneer new initiatives, Yonas will have the first Smoothie King store in the U.S. with an external digital menu board.
A Hunger to Grow with Smoothie King
He’s developed a management team – largely with people he’s worked with throughout his career – that gives him confidence that his stores will operate at the level he wants. Despite being separated from his stores by thousands of miles, he keeps close tabs on unit-level performance and constantly communicates with his team.
His hunger to succeed is palpable– and you can see the evidence with a quick look at his rapidly growing portfolio of multi-unit franchise investments and his plans for the future.
By his admission, he’s always planning his next move.
“My goal is to own 100 Smoothie King stores within the next five years; I’m hungry for the growth,” he said.