Starting your own business from scratch can be overwhelming. There are many moving parts to factor into each of your business decisions – from product creation to daily operations. For this reason, many entrepreneurs opt to start their business within a franchise model.
While franchising can takes some of the guesswork out of the equation, franchisees understandably often have many residual concerns about business ownership.
Chet Lipton has been a business owner for 40 years and most recently became a smoothie franchise owner with Smoothie King. He offers several helpful tips about important aspects to factor into your decision to select the best franchise brand:
A fair amount of research is necessary before making any long-term investment or business decision. Understanding your competitors is paramount when assessing whether the franchise opportunity will be viable and has potential to be profitable. It’s important to know:
- Who your competition is
- How they conduct business
- What you can learn from their successes and mistakes
This will also be a critical component to site selection, since competitors’ locations can help you determine the most strategic place to open your business.
“I did a lot of research into the competition before opening my business. I’ve probably been to every smoothie restaurant in the state of Maryland,” said Chet. “It’s good to see what they’re doing and how you can stand apart – whether it’s with a larger number of menu options, better service or any other way you can differentiate yourself.”
Oftentimes, franchisors can provide you these insights into your competition and competitive differentiators, but it’s always a good idea to try to gather as much firsthand information as you can. Chet also went to more than 10 different Smoothie Kings, learning as much as possible from fellow smoothie franchise owners.
A solid product is the most important factor in starting a business.
“You can’t try to start a business with a bad product or sell something you don’t believe in,” said Chet. “This is probably one of the first things you should look for – a quality product, with good branding and a solid company mission.”
There are many stages of product development – from market research to development and continuous improvements. By opening a franchise, the resource-intensive process of product development has already been done for you. If you truly believe in the franchisor’s product and feel it is unique, high-quality and offers value to consumers, that’s a great place to start. More importantly, the franchisor should be innovative and willing to constantly improve its original product.
“One thing that really stood out to me with Smoothie King was its emphasis on making constant product improvements. Its smoothies have been solid products from the beginning, but the corporate team is always invested in finding ways to offer new value to consumers – especially this year with its Cleaner Blending campaign and the better-for-you options that people are always looking for. With Smoothie King, you’re selling the value of a healthy and active lifestyle – not just a commodity.”
Appropriate Site Selection for Your Smoothie Franchise
Finding the right location to sell your product is another critical step in starting a successful business. Franchisors have target development regions based on expansive research of which areas they anticipate will perform best. They will also often assist franchisees with general site selection criteria and guidance in the selection of an acceptable site.
“It’s extremely important to find an area with high visibility,” said Chet. “You also need to factor in financial aspects outside of just the initial cost. It’s going to cost money to upkeep any location, with maintenance, rent, insurance and plenty of other expenditures, so these should all be factored into your decision.”
In addition to visibility, it’s essential for retail and restaurant spaces to be easily accessible. Chet recommends looking for potential smoothie franchise locations that are near major roads or that are within walking distance of different neighborhoods.
Marketing and Direct Sales
Marketing your product is another important factor for success. Franchise brands offer the benefit of established brand awareness on a large scale, but much of your local marketing will be up to you.
For this, Chet recommends plenty of face-to-face marketing initiatives. He says the most important part of marketing is establishing a personal connection with others. He promotes his Smoothie King at different offices to gain exposure within the community. He also plans to sponsor different athletic programs, school events and other local programs to gain exposure within the residential community.
“Although online marketing is a great way to get to a large group of people, people within your community really value an in-person interaction. A lot of the value you can bring to them and your community can easily get lost online – whether it’s in an e-mail or other marketing material. Meeting people, letting them try your product, letting them know where you’re located and offering them some kind of coupon or discount to come to your restaurant are so important in actually creating awareness and converting your community members into customers.”
Fortunately with franchise brands, franchisees have a head start on many different essential start-up processes – from research to marketing. Taking initiative and finding ways to apply your national brand strategy on a local level will differentiate you from others and help set you up for success in your market.
Interested in becoming part of an international brand with a proven model for success? Download our Franchise Kit, and become a smoothie franchise owner today!