As a franchisor, we can relate to Smoothie King franchisees. With more than 25 corporate-owned locations, we experience many of the same challenges and victories as our franchisees.
The shared experiences help us speak the same language as franchise owners, including unit-level economics. We constantly look at ways to improve profitability and gauge the success of operations, promotions, new products, supply chain and more.
Here are just three of the many ways we’re improving unit-level performance by having skin in the game:
Major Initiatives Influenced by Guest Demand
More Americans, particularly millennials, the largest consumer demographic living today, demand healthier food options than what their parents consumed. That does not mean just more fruits and vegetables, it means the food they frequently choose to eat doesn’t have artificial preservatives, colors and added sugars. They also tend to avoid GMO ingredients and unhealthy fats. They want cleaner ingredients.
Smoothie King listened to its guests, who were demanding cleaner ingredients, and launched the Cleaner Blending initiative in 2017. Franchisees are meeting the demand for better-for-you foods by serving smoothies that do not contain high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, hydrogenated oil, gluten and ingredients prohibited by regulatory lists monitored by NSF International. We also removed added sugar in many of our blends, and we have added whole fruits and vegetables, while ensuring our smoothies taste as delicious as they always have.
Taking Care in the Creation of New Blends
The seasons often drive the creation of new blends and limited-time offers. For example, this winter we launched two new coffee blends in our Fitness category – Activator Coffee and The Hulk Coffee – and reintroduced our King Cake smoothies during Carnival season to help keep sales hot. We know that Americans drink more coffee in the fall and winter. By creating a coffee smoothie, those consumers wary of enjoying a smoothie during cold months will be inclined to visit their local Smoothie King for one of our coffee blends.
With new product launches, we rely on in-store feedback to judge how a new blend will be received and if it’s the right one to promote. Our corporate stores, as well as select franchised locations in specific markets, are critical during this testing phase so franchisees can be confident in the products they’ll eventually rollout in their locations.
Healthy Rewards for Guests and Franchisees
Rewards programs are an effective way to keep devoted customers returning to their favorite businesses. It lets them know they’re valued. That’s why Smoothie King awards a point for every dollar spent by guests who are part of the Healthy Rewards program. As the points add up, guests can redeem them for discounted smoothies. We recently updated the program to make it easier to use.
The Healthy Rewards app on their smartphones also meets our guests’ demand for convenience. For example, guests just tap the “Earn” button on the app and scan the code at the register during each visit. Points are then added to their account.
We know that guests may not always have their smartphone with them or might forget they have the Healthy Rewards app. So, the system also allows them to enter a few basic details that appear on their receipt, such as subtotal and time of visit, after they’ve made the purchase, and points will be added to their account.
As a brand, we understand the value of investing in restaurant technology – what benefits our guests will ultimately help franchisees operate a restaurant with strong unit-level economics.