Dallas-based Smoothie King multi-unit franchisee, Austin Clinkscales, got his start in the most unlikely of places – working for RadioShack. Austin was a real estate manager for the electronics brand until it filed for bankruptcy in 2015. Afterwards, reflecting on the missteps of his former employer, Austin vowed to learn from them. His next career move would be different. He began looking for a high-demand, niche market that didn’t have to compete with eCommerce websites. His answer was Smoothie King. It was a concept that Austin was not only fond of since childhood, but it was also one that had become more relevant than ever.
“I had grown up on Smoothie King my whole life, and I began seeing people’s interest in the smoothie product increase with the progressing nutrition trend,” Austin said. “The more people were becoming health-and-fitness conscious, the more they could relate to the brand. It was also one of the few concepts out there that was really catering to people that were on the go, meeting a great demand for people wanting a convenient, health conscious option.”
Transitioning From Employee to Franchisee
Austin initially joined the brand as a real estate manager, working with franchisees to identify new store opportunities all across the United States. After a year and half of helping franchisees create their own entrepreneurial path, he began realizing what a great opportunity Smoothie King ownership could be for him.
“I was able to interact with franchisees through my role and I examined all the benefits from their perspective,” Austin said. “The concept was proven, and it was only continuing to grow. There was minimal food spoilage, the costs were essentially fixed and it was easy to train team members to prepare smoothies. If you considered the alternatives, it was certainly easier than operating a full-service restaurant, and it was even simpler than most other QSR concepts.”
Austin was impressed with Smoothie King’s simple and transparent operations and understood this was a brand that he could help grow. He put together an ownership group, and their first Dallas/Fort Worth store was open by February 2016. Within a year and a half, Austin was already breaking ground on his fourth location. The rapid multi-unit growth is coming along right on schedule according to Austin, who hopes to open more stores in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
Trusting the Brand
Going from no previous business ownership experience straight into a multi-unit deal took some adjusting on Austin’s part, but he trusted Smoothie King’s support.
“It was a little nerve wracking going in, but what made me confident is that I truly believed in the product we were selling,” Austin said. “I knew from personal experience that the franchise office team would be there to help in any way I needed and that the demand for the product would be there. I followed all the checklists and took all the advice I could.”
It is standard Smoothie King protocol to provide each franchisee with a checklist two months before a grand opening. The checklist provides basic guidance as it relates to buying items, lead times, vendor relationships, budgeting, and training. Austin was able to use the checklist to inform his first opening and apply everything he learned to each subsequent store.
“I was pretty confident in my ability to find the best real estate for my locations – but for everything else – I always rely on the brand for support and overall best practices,” Austin added. “The franchise office team is constantly working to help franchisees keep their stores running efficiently and attract as many guests as possible.”
Having firsthand experience working on Smoothie King’s franchise office team, Austin knew that he could trust the brand to help guide him as he grew. From operations to marketing, there was a support plan in place for every aspect of ownership and it is all designed to scale.
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