It’s a freezing winter day. You come home, shake the snow off your boots and curl up by the fire with a thick blanket, a good book and an ice cold smoothie.
If something about this scene doesn’t compute, you’re probably part of the contingent that sees smoothies as summer food.
Smoothie King frequently talks to potential franchisees who have cold feet about operating a smoothie bar during winter months. Their concern is that as the weather turns cold, customers will cool on blended smoothies, and sales will sag.
Here’s the truth: Walk-in smoothie sales tend to drop during the winter. This trend often holds true across the restaurant industry, whether you’re selling smoothies or sushi boats.
However, smart marketing and drive-thru and catering sales can help offset the dip in walk-in traffic. Furthermore, some guests’ demand for smoothies is not affected by the chilly temperatures.
A Purpose for Every Season
Take it from Smoothie King franchisee Danny Spinni. Spinni owns and operates five Smoothie King stores across Missouri. Historically guests’ visits have tended to ebb during the winter but bounce back in the spring. March has been one of the strongest months for some of his locations, even though it is usually still cold in Missouri.
“Do we still typically have a steady stream of guests in the winter? Absolutely,” Spinni said. “There’s different clienteles that come in for different purposes, and we’re ready for them. We can take care of whatever their needs are.”
Spinni said that guests who order smoothies as a snack might drop off during the winter, but the many guests who use smoothies as meal replacements tend to stick to it.
“Those customers continue to support you even if it’s snowing,” he said.
Likewise, demand from guests who use smoothies for a pre- or post-workout protein fix often stays steady when it’s cold. One of Spinni’s locations is close to a gym, and this keeps guests coming regardless of weather. By leaning into Smoothie King’s purpose-driven menu, franchisees can work to keep their businesses bustling year round.
Thinking Outside the Box
Pushing your smoothie bar’s catering, couponing and sampling services can also help give your store a boost, Spinni said. His locations give coupons to local schools, and his managers distribute samples at nearby offices, shops and even dental practices. They also cater at hospitals, corporate holiday parties and wellness fairs. His teams work hard to spread the word about their high-quality smoothies.
However, Spinni encouraged owners not to pour too many resources into wintertime marketing. Efforts to bring in more guests should happen year round.
“You’ve got to look for those other opportunities and find what works in your area. Even when things are great, you’ve still got to go after it,” he said.
After six years in the smoothie business, Spinni has learned not to sweat it when the snow starts to fall. Smoothie King’s menu appeals to a wide array of guests with different tastes and motivations, and franchisees have many marketing opportunities outside the store’s four walls.
“When we first started, we were worried about it,” he said. “We were thinking about how no one wants ice cream when it’s cold. But oftentimes it’s not like that at all.”
If you’d like to learn more about exciting franchise opportunities with a purpose-driven brand, download a free Smoothie King Franchise Kit.