With eight locations from Louisiana to Florida, Smoothie King franchisee Clay Koenig has quickly found his niche with the lifestyle-focused smoothie brand.
Prior to becoming a Smoothie King franchisee, Clay worked for several years at two other quick-service restaurant concepts. After selling those QSR locations, Clay became an International Operations Consultant at Smoothie King. He worked closely with different franchisees to help optimize their operational systems, but he always knew he also wanted to be a franchisee with the brand.
“I enjoyed the time I spent at the Smoothie King franchise office, but my ultimate goal was always to own my Smoothie King restaurants,” said Clay. “Being part of other brands – especially food franchises – helped put Smoothie King in perspective for me and realize how great of an opportunity it was.”
From Sandwiches to Smoothies
Clay’s experience as a multi-unit owner was with two different sandwich concepts in New Orleans before deciding to become a Smoothie King franchisee.
“Both franchise models I worked with prior to Smoothie King had their flaws,” said Clay. “One was only concerned with short-term goals – especially selling franchises. After that, you were kind of on your own, and the potential for profitability was low. The other one didn’t have a sustainable model for growth, which made expansion difficult. Smoothie King’s model is a stark contrast to both – you have all the support you need, and the framework can be conducive to growth at any level.”
Clay was a Smoothie King guest at one of Smoothie King’s original restaurants before deciding to do more research into the company and opportunity.
“It was definitely the right product at the right time, and the market only continues to grow,” said Clay. “I really appreciate Wan Kim’s perspective and direction – he is all about staying ahead of trends and continuous product innovations to constantly deliver what our guests want. This year, that has really embodied itself with different initiatives, like our Cleaner Blending Initiative.”
Clay also says Wan Kim’s strengths lie in his ability to think of the brand’s long-term viability, instead of relying on short-term sales goals.
“Wan Kim doesn’t measure the brand’s success on next quarter’s sales or franchise agreements,” said Clay. “He really thinks about how different changes will have a positive impact five to ten years from now. He also started out as a Smoothie King guest, then franchisee and now CEO, so he understands the importance of happy guests and happy franchisees. He has so much passion for the brand and the people.”
Growing with Smoothie King
Clay is looking to expand his Smoothie King presence in the Florida market.
“We will definitely be focusing our efforts on the Tallahassee area,” said Clay. “We have had success with our Smoothie King near the Florida State University campus, which is a good indicator of the strength of the market – and the popularity of locations near college campuses.”
Clay hopes to open four more Smoothie Kings in the area, expanding his Smoothie King footprint to 12 restaurants total.
Advice for Future Franchisees
Clay says the key to success with any franchise brand is making sure you do your due diligence.
“It’s easy to see a brand’s growth and assume that means high profitability and a high chance for success,” said Clay. “But really do your research when it comes to any business investment. Talk to franchisees, ask the right questions and really try to figure out why they’re happy or unhappy with the brand.”
Clay began working for the Smoothie King franchise office in 2007 and became a franchisee in 2012. Before working for Smoothie King, Clay did months of research into the brand and the franchise opportunity. He wanted to get into the smoothie segment and liked that the brand was New Orleans-born and privately-held. He made sure to talk to existing franchisees, however, to also make sure he would be happy working and expanding with the brand.
“My time at Smoothie King has been extremely valuable, and I’m really happy to represent and continue growing with the brand,” said Clay. “The brand is constantly evolving, and Smoothie King really does a great job of taking care of its franchisees and doing its part to allow franchisees the opportunity for success.”
Want to become part of our growing brand? Learn more about becoming a Smoothie King franchisee here and download our Franchise Kit.