Smoothie King was as a frequent hangout for Brandon Shamy while he attended the University of Maryland. He originally planned on entering the finance industry after graduation, but an internship quickly showed him it wasn’t where his passions lay and working for someone else wasn’t going to make him happy.
A New Jersey resident, Brandon began researching business concepts and recognized not only a gap in the Northeast market for a smoothie concept, but also that Smoothie King offered a standout product that was differentiated in the smoothie sector and in quick-service overall.
Brandon’s father, who owns a law practice, supported the entrepreneurial spirit in his son and co-signed with Brandon for the purchase his first Smoothie King store in 2008.
“My father is an entrepreneur and he’s always done his own thing,” explained Brandon. “I grew up around that mindset and always wanted to do my own thing, so when I finished my internship – it sealed the deal for me about what I wanted to do after I graduated.”
Brandon started down his entrepreneurial path at an age when most people are still figuring out what they want to do for their first careers. Although Brandon was ready to be his own boss, he has had to learn to lean on others for advice and guidance – looking to his father, wife, other franchisees and even his own employees to ensure the success of his store.
The Importance of Strong Leadership and Choosing the Perfect Team
Brandon had to adapt to leading a team of people who weren’t much younger than him – and took the time to ensure he surrounded himself with employees that could help him go the distance.
“When I first started, I was hiring people that were only a few years younger than me. So it was easy to relate to them, but at the same time it was a challenge as well because being a boss at that age took some adapting,” said Brandon. “I firmly believe you may have the best product, but I think your business is only going to go as far as the people you surround yourself with. It’s so important to have hardworking, good people around you to help you run your business – it’s contagious.”
Today, Brandon owns four Smoothie King stores but hasn’t forgotten where he started nearly a decade ago. While he isn’t working nearly as much in his stores as when he first got started, he’s still incredibly hands on – especially when it comes to opening new locations. Brandon is typically in a new store from open to close during the first two weeks, making sure everyone is set up for success, his team members are following the correct procedures and they’re providing great guest experiences from the very start.
Continuing to Grow and Learn from Life’s Challenges
Running a business is rarely smooth sailing during the best of times. When COVID-19 hit the United States in March, those in the restaurant industry had to quickly adapt and work to ensure they could provide for the community. Online ordering, delivery and curbside pickup quickly enabled franchisees like Brandon to safely serve their customers. Although Brandon’s stores aren’t drive-thrus, he’s been able to keep sales up.
“Being in the Northeast, we got hit hard – so we’ve definitely been taking it one day at a time. From the business perspective, we’ve really been focusing on online ordering and delivery – and that’s been a huge part of surviving this and actually thriving through it,” explained Brandon. “We had just launched online ordering in February and we got really lucky with timing because we’ve seen a huge demand for it.”
Even after nearly a decade of Smoothie King ownership, Brandon is continuing to look towards the future and expanding his reach within the Northeast market. Brandon’s ambition and drive have served as two big contributors to his success and goes to show that starting business ownership at a young age can be rewarding, insightful and provide a foundation for future goals.