New Orleans-based Smoothie King franchisees Yvette and Steve Shields understand a thing or two about legacy. For one, they have worked tirelessly to become multi-unit franchisees and create a business that their children may one day take over. Secondly, the Shields also own an important part of Smoothie King’s history – its first store.
Both Yvette and Steve grew up in Kenner, Louisiana, where the first ever Smoothie King was founded in 1973. Being from the same town as the first Smoothie King, Yvette and Steve understood the significance of the brand and its history. When the opportunity to buy the original Smoothie King franchise location presented itself, they were quick to jump on it.
“We bought the original store directly from the founder, Steve Kuhnau, himself,” Steve said. “Smoothie King meant a great deal to us and our family, and it made buying the original location feel like we were purchasing a little piece of history.”
Owning a Dream with Smoothie King
Steve began his Smoothie King career on the corporate side, working as a Franchise Development Manager. After seeing how the brand operated from the inside and selling countless franchise locations, he decided it was time for him to pursue his own entrepreneurial goals.
“You know, I was selling Smoothie King franchises and eventually I just sold one to myself,” Steve joked. “I’ve always had an urge to own my own business, and I recognized that Smoothie King was a great way to do just that. I was just looking for the right time.”
Following the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katerina in 2005, much of New Orleans and neighboring towns such as Kenner had to rebuild. It was during that time, that Steve and Yvette saw an opportunity to become business owners.
“There was a Smoothie King store right near us in Kenner that had to shut down due to the hurricane, and the owner put it on the market,” Yvette said. “Everything lined up, and we purchased it. Within a year, we had it refurbished and reopened.”
A Family Affair
Yvette and Steve, who have three boys, knew their family would be heavily involved in the stores. They were going to use this as an opportunity to teach them how to run a business and instill a strong work ethic.
“When we brought them in as team members, we taught them to respect and value the chain of command,” Yvette said. “They had to work their way up, and they had to learn how to work together and to be accountable for their actions.”
They made it a point to share all the facets of business ownership with their boys, in order to create well-rounded entrepreneurs. They were taught every aspect of the business – from operations to marketing to payroll.
“It was important for me that they got to see the business that their family was involved in,” Steve added. “I wanted them to understand the value of hard work and how to treat people.”
Paving The Way for the Next Generation
Yvette and Steve’s oldest son Jason (32) has since become a full-fledged partner with his parents and runs two of the four locations they own. Jason was able to use his previous experience as a strength and nutrition coach to help inform his current role and bring a lot of great ideas to the table. He has become instrumental in helping his parents choose what new retail products to incorporate and advise guests.
“Jason worked very hard to increase the sales of smoothie enhancers at his locations,” Yvette said. “He shared those techniques with us, and we were able to use them to help improve our sales as well.”
“People are always coming to him for advice on supplements and nutrition plans.” Steve added. “We always find ourselves sending guests to him whenever they have any questions about protein powders and pre-or post-workout. He represents the brand very well.”
The Shields’ are confident the family business they’ve worked so hard to build is in good hands. Their son has become integral to their growth, and all future plans will be funneled through him – especially as Yvette and Steve edge toward retirement.
A True Legacy
It was always their dream to leave behind a legacy for their children, and, through Smoothie King, that is exactly what they’ve done.
“Our goal was to show our boys that they could own their own business and make a future for themselves,” Steve said. “I feel proud that we got to show them firsthand what running a business is like and how to achieve the goals they set for themselves.”
Are you interested in investing in a legacy business for your family? Download our Franchise Kit to learn more about the Smoothie King brand and investment models.