Smoothies with a Purpose: Franchisee Turns Hardship into Opportunity

The interior of a Smoothie King store in a Lifestyle Center.

Like a lot of kids growing up in New Orleans, Smoothie King franchisee Chris Magno was a regular customer. He would ride his bike to the nearest store for his favorite smoothie. But Smoothie King’s products later took on a more meaningful role for Chris and his family when both of his parents – facing their respective battles with cancer – turned to smoothies as one source of nourishment during treatment.

Today, Magno owns five Smoothie King franchises throughout the Charlotte, NC metropolitan area, with plans to open three more. His mantra – “Do what it takes to make it succeed at all costs” – stems back to his personal experiences and connection with Smoothie King.

“Back in early 2001, my dad was diagnosed with cancer, battled with it, went through surgeries and went into remission two or three times,” Chris explained. “Later, it wasn’t looking good. He couldn’t eat any solid foods. [The doctors] gave him a timeframe and said, ‘Hey, you’re not going to make it past this date.’”

At this point, Chris thought of The Hulk™, a smoothie originally developed by Smoothie King founder Steve Kuhnau to help people maintain or gain their ideal body weight. Depending on the flavor, the 20-ounce size includes between 801 and 964 calories, while the 40 oz. option ranges between 1,602 and 1,928 calories. It’s also an excellent source of protein, vitamins A, C, D, K, calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and a number of other vitamins and minerals that help you bulk up.

The Hulk – Combining Purpose and Flavor

Chris explained The Hulk was an ideal meal replacement that satisfied his father’s desire to have something that tasted good and he could also keep down

“Enjoying The Hulk was something dad could look forward to during the downturn in his life,” said Chris.

In fact, his dad consumed The Hulk up until he ultimately succumbed to colon cancer in December of 2001. A few years later, Chris and his family had to confront a similar circumstance when his mother faced her own fight with breast cancer.

“When my mom was diagnosed, it was the same challenge with food,” Chris said. “When she was going through chemotherapy, she couldn’t eat, and she couldn’t really taste anything.”

Like Chris’s father, his mom consistently consumed The Hulk during this difficult time in her life. Through her cancer therapy treatments, Chris’s mom was able to overcome her battle with cancer. Today, Chris is happy to say that she’s been in remission for 11 years.

Connecting to His Business

After Chris’s father struggled with colon cancer and before his mother faced her own battle, Chris had begun exploring his options for business ownership.

“Back in 2003, we were looking at different business models, and Smoothie King really caught our attention,” Chris explained. “My sister said, ‘If you want to open a store, Charlotte is one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. right now—it’s expanding and growing.’”

At the time, there were only four Smoothie King stores in Charlotte, so there was plenty of opportunities to earn market share with a relatively new concept in the area. Chris also emphasized the fact that it was the ideal location because of the healthy lifestyles of people in the area. Coupled with his personal connection with the brand, Smoothie King’s mission to inspire people to live a healthy and active lifestyle is something that resonates with Chris.

Chris signed the franchise agreement in 2003 while still living in New Orleans and opened up his first Charlotte Smoothie King store in 2004. In many ways, he was diving headfirst into business ownership and figuring out ways to make it succeed—and, ultimately, using his position as a local business owner to promote Smoothie King’s mission in the community.

Bringing it Full Circle

Once a year, every first weekend in October, the Susan G. Komen Foundation does the Race for the Cure® in Charlotte, an event that Chris and other local Smoothie King owners always attend.

“We organize all the local stores to participate, and we hand out anywhere from 9,000 to 12,000 smoothie samples throughout the race. It starts at 6 a.m. and goes till noon, so we probably see about 20,000 people. So, we’re able to hand out smoothies to half the people there. And it ties back in with my mom, so that’s kind of why we do it.”

Chris has grown from a single-unit operator who was truly learning as he went along to being a multi-unit franchisee with goals of opening up eight Smoothie King locations. He’s been able to turn family misfortune into a business opportunity that enables him to give back to charitable organizations, the local community, and his employees.

How do you plan to build a purpose-driven business? Learn more about becoming a Smoothie King franchisee here and download our Franchise Kit.


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