It’s been 13 years since Lorri and Shane Chauvin opened their first Smoothie King location in the Columbus, Ohio market.
The Chauvins, who previously owned a construction equipment enterprise, realized it was time for a new business venture when the market began to fluctuate in the mid-2000s.
They decided to close the doors of their previous business before it got any worse, but little did they know that they would soon be taking on a very different kind of business: a Smoothie King franchise.
Discovering the Smoothie King Franchise
Shane, who was raised in the New Orleans area where the first Smoothie King was opened, was already familiar with the brand.
Franchising had not previously been on their radar at all, but there was something about Smoothie King’s menu and mission that stood out to them. Not only did the smoothies taste great, but the brand was very health-focused, which resonated with the couple.
“I always like to exercise and get out and move,” Shane said. “Any time I want to lose weight or get healthy, Smoothie King is a part of my diet.”
However, the idea of franchising with Smoothie King struck while picking up his kids from their cousins’ house. His kids, who were around 10 years old at the time, wanted to stop at Smoothie King one last time before they left Louisiana. The Chauvins quickly realized the opportunity for Smoothie King in the Columbus area.
Columbus is also a very health-conscious and young market, making Shane and Lorri even more confident that Smoothie King would make an excellent fit there.
In fact, someone else thought so, too. There were already two locations in the Columbus market, and the Chauvins decided they wanted to be the ones to open more and further develop in the region.
Becoming Multi-Unit Franchisees
When the time came to open their first location, the Smoothie King team was out in full force to help wherever they could.
“They flew one of their team members out to look at the site and helped us draw the layout of the store,” Shane explained. “Then, I flew back down to Louisiana to begin training at an actual Smoothie King location. That was the most beneficial part because I got to know the product much better and I was able to make smoothies a lot faster.”
Since opening their first store over a decade ago, the couple now owns five Smoothie King franchises in the Columbus area.
Powering Through the Pandemic
According to Shane, they did relatively well through the pandemic compared to most of the quick-service restaurant industry.
“I’ve run businesses before and I’ve had to close my doors due to economic turmoil. With Smoothie King, it’s a lot more recession resilient,” Shane said.
The first thing Shane and Lorri had to do was ensure that their locations were all up-to-date on the latest local and federal COVID-19 guidelines.
“We made sure to communicate with the employees. People were scared, and they didn’t really know what to make of the situation at first,” he added.
The couple remained transparent with their team and wanted to make sure that everyone was comfortable at work. They credit their staff’s positive outlook throughout the pandemic for helping to maintain a welcoming environment for their guests.
“Luckily, smoothies are more of an ‘on-the-go’ meal to begin with, so that really helped us,” Shane explained. “Two of our stores also have drive-thrus, which became a lot busier.”
For Shane and Lorri, sales actually increased during the pandemic because their competitors had to close their doors or were not as well equipped when it came to to-go operations.
Another product of the pandemic that helped boost sales was the influx in delivery orders. Shane and Lorri started partnering with third parties to help bring their guests’ favorite blends to their front door.
Before they knew it, they were in all the local listings on delivery apps. In terms of marketing, they stuck signs on their windows and utilized social media to highlight this new service. They also made sure that ordering for delivery was an easy process.
“Our customers are used to great service when they come into the stores, so in our eyes, delivery shouldn’t have been any different,” Shane explained.
Originally, their stores had tablets set up and when a delivery order came through, the employees had to enter the order into their POS system. However, Smoothie King quickly made this process more efficient by integrating third-party delivery services with their POS system, just as they would if the customer were to come into the store.
“People are busy and most don’t mind paying a little more for convenience,” said Shane. “Have your team members promote delivery, and it will help you keep ahead of your competitors.”
Shane and Lorri have already accomplished so much throughout their time as Smoothie King franchisees. For them, one of the most rewarding parts has been getting involved with the community.
“It’s mutually beneficial,” Shane explained. “Over time, we’ve gotten involved with the local schools through handing out free smoothies and fundraising — in a way, it’s more valuable than paying for regular advertisements since the product sells itself.”
Kids and their parents would tell their friends, which generated strong word-of-mouth marketing and influx of guest traffic. The more active the Chauvins were in schools, the busier their stores became.
The pair hopes to continue being involved in their community, expanding their footprint throughout the Columbus area, delivering smoothies straight to their customers and growing their dedicated team of employees throughout the next few years.