Meet the Smoothie King Multi-Unit Franchisee Who Opened our 1,200th StoreAuthor: Smoothie King
Entrepreneurship and franchising are practically ingrained in Christopher Klebba’s DNA.
Christopher’s dad is a long-time entrepreneur and was Planet Fitness’s 85th store owner after he decided to leave his high-power marketing career. Having watched his father join a budding franchise system that has now blossomed into a household name, Christopher wanted to start his own entrepreneurial journey.
It has led him to recognize his passion and talent for leadership development, which fits perfectly into the world of multi-unit franchising.
“Our sweet spot is around leadership development, building systems and scalability, putting leadership teams in place, getting engagement and motivation in taking a new brand to a new area,” explained Christopher. “It’s what we love to do and franchising fits right into that.”
A Focus on Expanding Reach in the Health and Wellness Sectors
In 2017, Christopher founded Northern Diamond Management, which is an equity management firm with a strong focus on investments and management opportunities in the health and wellness sector and acts as a parent company for Northern Blends – their Smoothie King holding company.
“Our whole intention was to roll out new projects we love and create teams of people you wanted to be around,” explained Christopher. “We were very intentional about what we wanted to be – wanted to be the absolute best operators within the system based on every metric – these were our core founding values for Northern Diamond Management.”
Northern Blends has opened 12 Smoothie King locations across Michigan and Ohio and plans to develop 53 more over the next 5 years. Thanks to Christopher’s drive to better the lives of others, Northern Blends opened Smoothie King’s 1,200th store on August 18, 2020, in Royal Oaks, Michigan.
A Lifelong Passion for Health and Wellness
Since Christopher’s entrepreneurial roots are in the fitness and health industry, Smoothie King was a natural complement to his existing franchise portfolio.
Smoothie King checked many of the same boxes Planet Fitness did – especially in Michigan’s traditionally underserved communities. Christopher and his father didn’t want to be competing with green juices or acai bowls; rather, they wanted to appeal to community members who would usually lean towards a fast food restaurant after a sporting event, and offer them a healthy, convenient, purpose-driven option instead – Smoothie King.
“We’ve been so successful in metro Detroit because we’ve found our customers are the people who want to be healthier but want convenience, better options and friendly service – they want to feel comfortable going in,” said Christopher.
Smoothie King’s vision – to be an integral part of everyone's health and fitness journey – aligned perfectly with the customer base Christopher and his team had built, he added.
The Success of Investing in Your Employees
Since Christopher oversees more than 1,500 employees, he understands the importance of being an effective leader.
For Christopher, leadership means dedicating his life to being the best leader he can be, and he emphasizes the importance of trust, accountability and how well a leader can handle conflict – core issues that can have a significant impact on the success of a business.
“People don’t care how much you know – they care about whether or not you care about them,” said Christopher. “A lot of the time, people have the mindset that once their employees prove their worth, then they’ll begin to invest in them, whereas we invest in people no matter what and give them the tools to succeed.”
While Smoothie King fits into the values Christopher upholds as he leads Northern Blends, he also connected with Wan Kim and Kevin King on a leadership level – and being able to meet them cemented Smoothie King as a cultural match.
“Hearing the franchisor’s vision was huge to us,” said Christopher. “Wan’s leadership, vision and unrelenting action of impacting lives on a big scale – changing people’s moods, changing their lives and emotions. Wan was just a beacon and an ambassador for the brand. It was a huge cultural match for us.”
While Northern Blends owns 12 Smoothie King locations now, Christopher isn’t planning on slowing down and will continue to open more locations over the next five years – changing one community at a time for the better.