February is recognized as Black History Month, and we’re celebrating the contributions and achievements of our diverse franchise community.
As a company, we recognize that diversity enriches the workforce and continues to provide a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all customers and employees.
Today, we’re shining a light on franchisee André Gregory. In a recent discussion, Andre provided detail on his career with Smoothie King, reasons for joining the brand, and even offered advice for budding entrepreneurs.
Q&A with Smoothie King franchisee, André Gregory
Q: What was your previous career and how did you end up at Smoothie King?
A: I was an educator and played many roles from teacher to college advisor, and more. I always thought I would retire as an educator, but when I moved to Greenwood, South Carolina from Pittsburgh, I would tell my wife repeatedly that Greenwood needed a smoothie shop. We made smoothies at home all the time. One day, I was on the phone with two of my friends while in the parking lot at my gym and I kept telling them that Greenwood could use a smoothie shop. They told me to stop talking about it and do it. So, that was my turning point – I got serious and had a conversation with my wife. Thankfully, she was on board but advised me to consider a smoothie franchise opposed to start-up.
Q: What made you choose Smoothie King out of all the other smoothie franchise brands?
A: Honestly, I looked at several smoothie franchises, but Smoothie King seemed to care about the product and didn’t just hound me for the franchise fee. When I was at Discovery Day, I had the opportunity to meet managers, members of the corporate team and even some of the C-suite. I specifically asked several of the managers targeted questions about diversity in the workplace. All of them had positive things to say about how the brand approached issues of equity and equality, including those who were ethnically diverse. I was already leaning toward choosing Smoothie King prior to talking with some of their multicultural staff. However, after speaking with them and hearing positive comments regarding how they were treated daily, that was the tipping point.
Q: Tell us what it was like becoming a business owner as an African American male?
A: I’m not going to lie, there is a sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with being able to say I am the owner. Honestly, many people are used to seeing a person of color working in the food service industry, but we are typically viewed as employees and not owners. I do recognize there is some added weight and responsibility that comes with the title of owner. You must always act with integrity. You are judged by the good and bad you do…and people will judge others that look like me by those same metrics. There is also a lot of joy in being a black owner. There’s an entire culture apart from the business culture you get to experience. Additionally, we’ve built a base of regular customers who initially visited us because we are black-owned, and have stayed because they enjoy the product, appreciate the ambience of the store, and recognize we treat people the right way. That is incredibly powerful.
Q: What advice do you have for those looking to own their own franchise, especially for other African American male and female entrepreneurs that are entering this world?
A: The best advice I can give – take the time to do your homework. Consider what the brand has to offer, if there is a gap in the market where you can fit, and if what you want out of life (time commitment, ROI, profitability, community connections, etc.) aligns with the franchise’s business model and goals. I think one of the biggest questions I asked myself during the process was “Are you proud of the product you’re offering?” If you’re not, then more likely than not, that franchise is not for you. I am proud of the product that Smoothie King offers and would encourage others to seek the brand as an ideal smoothie franchise business opportunity.
Smoothie King is honored that André is part of our franchise community and we look forward to seeing his accomplishments in the years to come. We’re extremely proud of our diverse franchise network, as well as our group of diverse corporate and store employees. To learn more about Smoothie King’s Better Together promise, check out our website at www.smoothieking.com/about/partnerships/inclusivity.