While attending Tulane University, Travis Bolster got an internship working at Smoothie King’s home office in the franchise development department. Travis quickly realized there was tremendous growth potential with Smoothie King, and, even then, he knew he didn’t want to be working for someone else his whole career.
“I graduated college in 2000, right around the dot-com bust and the job market was pretty miserable,” said Travis. “I knew that I didn’t want to work for corporate America when I could potentially own my own business, and luckily I had that opportunity.”
Almost 20 years later, Travis Bolster continues to believe in the Smoothie King business model and has strategically grown his multi-unit franchise portfolio while bringing our mission, to inspire people to live a healthy and active lifestyle, to communities across the southern United States.
The Journey to Becoming an Entrepreneur
Travis grew up just a short bike ride away from our original location in Metairie, Louisiana. He always loved being able to smell the fresh fruits as he walked in the doors, and that fascination stuck with him until he went off to college.
“I was always fascinated by the different flavors and combinations you could put together,” explained Travis.
After he graduated college, Travis and his wife, Jenny, bought their first Smoothie King location. From there, their Smoothie King portfolio continued to grow as they purchased more units across the Southern and Southeastern United States, including Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. With each additional unit, Travis acquired crucial knowledge on the importance of having a business plan in place and being financially prepared to expand at a realistic pace.
“So many times, people go into business and they don’t have the capital to get them through the start-up period. You don’t want to expand too quickly, especially if you’re undercapitalized – you need a plan in place and you need the right people in place to help you achieve your business goals,” said Travis.
For Travis, Smoothie King’s simplified operations have been a differentiator and asset when attracting talent.
“If you bring in a manager with management experience in food and beverage, they typically look at it as an easy-to-run operation versus what they’re used to and it makes us attractive for those candidates,” explained Travis.
Compared to full-service and fast-casual concepts with kitchens and complicated menus, Smoothie King is simple and much easier to run. Team members don’t need to worry about grease, frying foods, grilling and hot working conditions – instead, they can experience the simple, clean environment of working at a Smoothie King location and provide their community with healthy, delicious options to boost their wellness.
Ensuring Success While Supporting Staff
With the goal of helping people live a healthy and active lifestyle, Travis prioritizes keeping his team members happy and motivated.
“I never want to lose a good employee to another job over something as simple as a dollar an hour. I’m going to fight for that person and meet their requests if they deserve it,” explained Travis. “I’m going to do everything I can to keep them here. If that means paying them a little bit above what the market might be, so be it.”
Additionally, Travis is always looking at ways to improve working conditions for his staff – giving opportunities to current managers as his multi-unit portfolio grows.
After nearly 20 years of franchise ownership with Smoothie King, Travis has no plans for slowing down. Currently, he has three Smoothie King stores in Mississippi, one in Mobile, Alabama and has signed a five-unit development agreement for Tallahassee, Florida – with one open currently and one in development to open in the near future.
“We’ve evolved so much over the years,” explained Travis. “It’s so different and that is really a testament to Wan Kim’s impact on the company, the investments he made, rebranding Smoothie King, providing the capital and resources to make the necessary changes. All those things have led to where we are today – we’re on the cusp of great things over the next five years.”