Smoothies Made Simple: Why Simple Operations is Fundamental to Our Success
Mar 28, 2017
By: Brad West, Smoothie King Vice President of Operations
How many times has this happened to you? You pull into the drive-thru line at a fast food restaurant during the lunch or dinner rush—the chaos behind the counter is audible through the speaker when you place your order. Time seems to slow down as you inch your way to the pick-up window and the concern about the crew getting your order right intensifies. Sure enough, when you inspect your bag of food after finally receiving it – they got it wrong. And you think, “It shouldn’t be that difficult!”
When these kinds of mistakes happen, guests rarely give you a second chance. They also share their complaint with others, online and in person. This can have a negative impact on a franchisee’s bottom line.
Simple operations, like those at Smoothie King, prevent mistakes and promote speed of service at each location. The purpose of developing simple operations ensures each Smoothie King store runs efficiently and therefore sets franchisees up for success.
Getting It Right System-wide
Our simple operations guarantee consistency of our smoothies for our guests at every one of our 860+ locations, even if they want to customize their order. No matter which Smoothie King you go to, if you order that Angel Food smoothie and customize it, it’s going to get made the same.
It starts with the chit, the piece of paper with the recipe on it that’s produced and printed by the point-of-sale (POS) system. The recipes use a simple color code and will read, for example, “a blue ladle of strawberries” or “a yellow disher of bananas.” Every measuring utensil is color-coded, so you’re not actually having to spend time measuring ingredients, and it’s the exact measurement at every location. The chit also includes the blender speed to use.
Following that recipe not only ensures smoothies come out exactly the way they should, but it also protects the bottom line by staying within the food cost model for each individual smoothie.
Simple Saves Time
Much of the simplicity is tied into speed of service. If the recipe is complicated and has too many ingredients, it not only complicates making that smoothie and diminishes consistency, but it’s also going to slow service down.
Where it can get complicated is when team members are not properly trained or, during peak times, they don’t stay in position. It becomes a free-for-all with team members running around trying to do too much and not keeping with the simple process. When everyone stays in position and sticks to their primary role during peak times, the smoothie-making process operates like a well-oiled machine.
In the early days of Smoothie King, every location was an inline store. But now, over 30 percent of our stores are drive-thru, so speed of service matters even more. The guest expects us to be as quick as any other QSR concept. When a guest is in the store and there are nine people in line, they know it’s going to take a couple of minutes. But for the person in that car who ordered four customized smoothies, they’re thinking, “Hey, I need those four smoothies right now.” But we still have to blend four customized smoothies, so we have to keep those recipes simple.
Simple and Smooth Operations for All
Being in a franchise system with more than 850 units, it’s critical to have a process for making smoothies that’s fairly simple because of the varying levels of experience and the types of franchisees we have. A person can come to us with retail experience but has never served food and beverage and they can operate a Smoothie King.