At the Multi-Unit Food Service Operators (MUFSO) Conference in Dallas in 2018, I stood among a group of brand CEOs and presidents as a recipient of the Golden Chain award and a nominee for Operator of the Year. My colleagues and I were recognized for running industry-leading operations, mentoring top teams and creating opportunities for others.
But a single person doesn’t make a brand, and Smoothie King’s brand direction is not determined solely by our corporate team. Rather, we pull from the experiences of our guests to learn and move forward. Our guests are our top priority, and by serving them, our brand has expanded to 1,000 stores in 2018, a goal my predecessors may have deemed impossible at this juncture in the brand’s history.
Purpose-Driven in All We Do
I originally joined the Smoothie King brand because I was proud to serve the product, and not every brand can say that, particularly other quick-service concepts. Our smoothies offer more nutritious and convenient options for our guests. They inspire our guests to fulfill their purpose. That’s why our brand is in the business of selling a purpose—to inspire people to live a healthy and active lifestyle—not just smoothies.
Through our purpose blends and meal replacement options, we provide nutrient-rich, on-the-go options for guests. By cementing our brand as a better-for-you concept, we create repeat business and loyal guests. The demand and, ultimately, the importance of having more nutritious options drive our brand growth.
Cultivating a Lifestyle Brand
The Smoothie King mission, vision and purpose lead everything we do, from product recipes to marketing initiatives to hiring staff. If we focus on our communities, our growth in numbers will follow, and we’ve seen this succeed with the opening of our 1,000th store last year. In order to do this, you have to listen to guests, stick to the brand’s values and keep industry trends in perspective with respect to your guests’ needs.
Most recently, we’ve heard our guests asking for more transparency and better-for-you add-ons and substitutions – an inspiration for our Clean Blends Initiative. Through Clean Blends, we have added more whole fruits to our smoothie blends, eliminated high fructose corn syrup and removed added sugar from many of our purpose blends. Our shift in ingredients helps Smoothie King cater to a larger variety of guests with varying purposes, like those looking for a post-workout smoothie or a mom on the go.
We started as a healthier alternative. In order to maintain this status, we will continue evolving. With more whole ingredients and nutritious options, we stay true to our roots. Smoothie King’s founder created our blends with high-quality fruits and vegetables that made him feel better. The brand has upheld that since 1973, and the commitment attracts guests and keeps them coming back.
Innovation at 1,000 and Beyond
Smoothie King continues to evolve and generate new ways to integrate purpose into all that we do. The constantly changing food and beverage marketplace and consumer demand drive our brand innovation and keep us growing and evolving. Tools like industry expertise and market research inspire recipe innovation. We use guest feedback and industry momentum to stay ahead of trends while fueling guests with a tasty and nutritious smoothie. As our blends grow and develop, so does our in-store technology. Advances in ordering processes and point of sale systems help us engage with guests to discover their purpose and then educate them on a blend to meet it.
Once we’ve made these updates, we use ongoing training and a brand-wide commitment to purpose to introduce these new initiatives and see success—now at more than 1,000 stores and more in the future. Marketing collateral and strong national brand awareness instill confidence in franchisees to implement new recipes and processes. Through hard work and fierce dedication, we have been able to adopt Clean Blends throughout our brand and set the stage for growth of the initiative. Our established enthusiasm and processes make new initiatives easily adaptable brand-wide.
It’s crucial for Smoothie King to continue this growth and momentum. We need to be mindful that if we don’t do it, someone else can. Keeping guests’ purpose at the forefront of our growth bolsters franchise expansion and helps reinforce Smoothie King as the leader for healthy smoothie options and purpose-driven recipes.
There’s a lot of competition for food and beverage concepts. Smoothie King’s defined mission, vision and purpose keeps guests needs at the center of our growth. By continuing to delight guests, we contribute to that growth. We continue to work toward cementing ourselves in our guests’ everyday routine and expanding our reach domestically and abroad.