How This Franchisee Forged His Unique Path to Becoming a Successful Smoothie King OwnerAuthor: Smoothie King Franchise
Skyler Blacknall’s path to becoming a franchisee was more unique than most.
Before becoming a franchisee in April 2020, Skyler had the privilege of being featured on an episode of Undercover Boss, during which he had the special opportunity to work side-by-side with Smoothie King CEO Wan Kim.
However, this wasn’t Skyler’s first interaction with Wan; Skyler had previously met him at a Discovery Day.
“I think that just being at Discovery Day definitely caught Wan’s attention,” explained Skyler. “He heard my story, saw my grind and my ambition in the steps I took to get there – and that made him want to make sure I became a franchisee.”
Skyler’s relationship with Wan didn’t end after the Undercover Boss episode wrapped up. Today, Wan continues to mentor Skyler. The two have lunch, discuss the performance of his store and talk about their families. Wan helps motivate Skyler and gives him advice from his personal experience as a master franchisee – and guides him on his path to multi-unit ownership.
The Rewards of Passion, Ambition and Sacrifice
Still, Skyler’s journey wasn’t without its challenges. He spent almost 10 years saving up to invest in his first Smoothie King location. Meanwhile, his wife was studying to get her law degree, so the two decided to live below their means to garner as much capital as possible before investing.
“For somebody who’s trying to become a franchisee and somebody going through law school, that dynamic alone is a challenge,” explained Skyler. “But if you want to get to this point, you have to learn to make sacrifices.”
When he began working for the Smoothie King corporate team in October 2018, he started gathering knowledge and learning the ropes of becoming a Smoothie King franchisee as he began his path towards business ownership.
Playing Smarter, not Harder
Thanks to Wan’s mentorship and his experience on Undercover Boss, Skyler fulfilled his initial goal of becoming a Smoothie King franchisee. For Skyler, preparing to become a franchisee was much easier thanks to the practical experience he received while working as a multi-unit manager for the Smoothie King corporate team. As a multi-unit manager, Skyler essentially got to experience every aspect of being a franchisee – with the exception of paying the bills.
“I definitely have to give them credit because it made my transition a lot easier than the average franchisee,” said Skyler. “When I was working for Smoothie King corporate, I would train the new franchisees before they went out to their store and opened it up, and I’d have to have the answers to any of their questions.”
Learning the Ropes of New Business Ownership During a Pandemic
While Skyler had previous experience that prepared him for franchise ownership, he was in new territory opening his location during a global pandemic. Just like many other new business owners, Skyler had to adjust his operations in order to keep employees and customers safe, while maintaining cash flow.
For Skyler and his team, opening up when COVID-19 hit was both a blessing and a curse. Initially, sales were down from the get-go, but Skyler was determined to push through. Business began to turn around as people looked to boost their health through their diet – leading to consistent increases in sales each month.
“It was pretty challenging at first, just getting adjusted to it, especially since my store didn’t have a drive-thru,” explained Skyler. “That was just another struggle for us at first since sales just dropped. Now, sales have been at least up about 15-16 percent every month now. So it started out slow but it’s working out in my favor.”
Skyler also had the good fortune of being given a pre-existing Smoothie King location, so he didn’t need to worry about being a brand-new addition to the community. However, Skyler immediately jumped in and started connecting with his community through social media and in-person marketing strategies.
“Thanks to the great job the previous store owner had done, I was able to pay attention to the things that she implemented and added my own flavor to the mix,” said Skyler. “I also was out in the community using flyers and word of mouth to market the store as much as I could.”
Skyler doesn’t plan on stopping at just one franchise. Right now, he’s working toward opening his second store in the summer of 2021 and one day hopes to own 25 Smoothie King locations.
Although Skyler’s journey to becoming a franchisee is more unique than most, his story offers a beacon of ambition and entrepreneurial passion to any business-minded dreamers looking to invest in their own business.