Smoothie King Franchise Owner Overcomes First-Year Challenges through Strategic Marketing and HR Initiatives
When your team has your guests’ best interests at heart, you can increase the chances of your Smoothie King store being successful.
Caring for your guests starts at the franchise owner level, and it’s incumbent upon the franchisee to hire the right people who buy into the brand vision: to be an integral part of every health and fitness journey.
Brian Griffith is a Smoothie King franchise owner who believes in the brand’s purpose, but he encountered a challenge hiring team members who were as passionate as he was. Part of the problem was Smoothie King was a less known brand in his market, which required him to put more energy into marketing.
Bringing on board a rock star manager, however, was the start of improving his hiring and marketing strategies.
It Just Takes One Manager Who Shares the Vision
Brian worked in an arm of the health industry – pharmaceutical sales – for 18 years, but his entrepreneurial spirit turned his thoughts toward business ownership. A top priority for Brian, though, was that the business supports a healthy lifestyle.
Excited about selling a product that could help people achieve their wellness goals, Brian opened his Smoothie King store at the end of 2017 in Mokena, Illinois, a community 35 miles southwest of Chicago. But, with unemployment being so low, he drew most of his employees from the local high school. While providing work experience to young adults was important to Brian, he realized he needed to mix in team members with more robust work histories.
“I hired a really good manager with a strong background in nutrition,” he said. “It was important to me to have someone who understands nutrition and health and can communicate that to our guests. We needed to communicate our Clean Blends message – our health and fitness journey message – to our guests.”
Impressed with the improving sales since hiring the manager, the improved level of customer service, her passion for the product and the influence she brought to younger members of the team, Brian sought out and hired more managers like her.
Marketing Takes Shape
Eventually, staffed with managers who could convey how Smoothie King can be an integral part of every health and fitness journey, Brian’s team began marketing in earnest, talking about the product, and handing out nutritional menu guides and smoothie samples. Marketing is critical, Brian said, especially in a large market like Chicago, where the concept is still new and brand awareness is not yet strong. There are only five Smoothie King locations in the Chicago area.
“They go out to gyms and health fairs, and we’re going to do more of that this year,” Brian said. “We do a lot of educating with our guests.”
Team Development Carries Forward Success
With the hiring challenge resolved, Brian focuses on developing the right employees into managers. He has experienced some of his proudest moments as a Smoothie King owner in this phase, especially with one team member who has been with him since the beginning.
“I’ve seen her grow from being a team member to a very strong leader,” he said. “It’s good for our store and the overall health of our team to have a manager that understands the Smoothie King process and systems. To see her grow and take on additional responsibilities puts a big smile on my face. She is respected and admired by her teammates as well.”
Brian, who spends a lot of time at his store, has seen and heard his strategy for hiring more experienced workers to mentor staff with no previous work experience pay off. The positive reviews are as much about his staff as they are about the smoothies.
“We hear people talk all the time and say things like, ‘Smoothie King made such a difference. It’s part of my life now,’” he said. “When someone says a business is part of their life – not so much the brick and mortar, but the people here – that means a lot to me.”