One October afternoon in 2015, Woodbridge, Virginia Smoothie King franchisees Katie and Richard Benjamin received heartbreaking news. Katie’s 11-year-old nephew, Colby Smith, had been tragically killed in a dirt bike accident. An unthinkable event for any family to endure, Colby had been riding with his father and close family friend along a dirt track when he lost control and hit a tree.
However, Colby’s parents managed to transform the tragedy into something positive by founding Colby’s Ride, a foundation created to commemorate Colby and help underprivileged children. As local business owners, Katie and Richard Benjamin knew they could use their Smoothie King location to help raise awareness about the organization and raise money in their community. The Benjamins also thought to reach out to other Smoothie King franchisees in surrounding areas and asked if they would be willing to help in any way.
“Initially, this started as a fundraising effort where a few franchisees were going to leave donation cans out by their registers,” said Jamison Young Smoothie King marketing manager for the Northeast region, who has helped oversee the brand’s support of Colby’s Ride. “Very quickly, a lot of surrounding franchisees came forward and expressed how much they wanted to help support the foundation in a more significant way.”
Beyond Donation Cans
The mission of Colby’s Ride is simple: provide bicycles and helmets to underprivileged children during Christmas time, as well as around Colby’s birthday in May. The family chose those two months because the holidays and birthday are the two hardest times for the parents.
“The response from the community was beyond anything we could have hoped for,” said Katie. “The local high school got involved and made a video in Colby’s honor to help raise money and encourage residents to donate bikes. We were very humbled to receive this amazing support.”
Smoothie King franchisees in the surrounding areas banded together and held a fundraiser where a percentage of proceeds from the sales of all smoothie enhancers along with Colby’s favorite smoothie, Banana Boat with cocoa, went directly to help the foundation and its mission. As a result, the Smoothie King locations in Woodridge and neighboring Manassas experienced an uptick in foot traffic as well as sales on the promotional items.
What Giving Back Means to the Brand
The Benjamins’ biggest fear was that Colby’s memory would pass and become forgotten. However, several members of the Smoothie King team have worked to help Katie make sure that would never happen.
“We can’t thank Smoothie King and our fellow franchisees enough for wrapping their arms around us during such a devastating time,” said Katie. “We never thought we would get the support we received from the Smoothie King team and are forever thankful and appreciative.”
In the two years Smoothie King has run its annual Colby’s Ride promotion, cash and bicycle donations totaling over $6,300 have helped the foundation reach its goals. The brand even went as far as donating Smoothie King branded bicycles with the phrase “Ride with a Purpose” printed on the frame.
“Being able to work within a brand that is not only health-oriented but also people-oriented is truly awesome,” said Jamison. “I felt empowered to help support this family through this terrible tragedy and helped them accomplish something significant.”
Since its inception, Smoothie King has worked to create a purpose-driven culture that inspires people to help others. Smoothie King franchisees are encouraged to give back to their local communities and also practices what it preaches through its various philanthropic partnerships and its community involvement nationwide.
“There are brands out there that would not have cared at all about something like this, but with Smoothie King, it’s just the opposite,” added Jamison. “They help empower their employees and franchisees to create an environment where they help one another.”
What’s your purpose? Learn more about becoming a Smoothie King franchisee here and download our Franchise Kit.