Although Smoothie King reached the 1,000-store benchmark in 2018, we don’t plan on slowing our growth. There are still boundless opportunities to bring Smoothies With A Purpose® to consumers all across the country in 2019.
Here’s where we start:
Back to What Works
Smoothie King currently occupies markets in 34 states, and that’s where we will target development for 2019. Because we’ve already established a presence there, those markets can be ideal for brand growth – including markets in Texas, Florida, Arizona, Colorado and others.
We aim to fill in those markets and solidify a market leadership position as soon as possible. However, we do not want to grow hastily – it’s not growth for growth’s sake.
Our development rate will be measured. Smoothie King’s growth in each market depends on how big the market is, and each is different. For example, the pace of growth in Texas, our largest market, will be different than it is in markets where we have fewer locations, such as Indiana. It’s not entirely about a number of units. It’s about awarding stores to the right number of franchisees and building out the market as expeditiously as we can.
The Measured Approach
When developing our target market plans, we consider the risks of growing too slow and growing too quickly.
If a franchise brand grows too slow, one risk is never establishing it as relevant to everybody in the market. You might create real opportunities for a competitor to come in and take trade areas and build their brand faster than you’re building yours. You could open in one trade area and do great. But if a key competitor comes in and builds out the other trade areas, you can be playing catch up all the time.
On the other hand, a danger of growing in a market too quickly is you might not be able to build a customer base around each store fast enough. Training may not happen fast enough, you might create a strain on infrastructure and you don’t really grow. Very rapid growth can be done right, but it can also be very expensive. You may have to over-invest in people, and that’s hard on a franchise model because people don’t typically have that factored into the investment side of the equation. Plus, you may need to over-advertise just to make sure you get the awareness and recognition you need in order to be successful.
Over the last several years, we’ve added a significant number of locations in Texas, our largest state by unit count with more than 200 stores. Florida and Louisiana are our next two biggest states with more than 100 stores in each. But, we still have opportunities to grow in those states, so we want to take advantage of it. When it’s time to add markets, we aim establish a presence at the right pace and create synergies from brand awareness that way.
Optimizing Site Selection
Smoothie King market development strategies are established with the end goals in mind. We ask how many stores we think the market can hold and generally about where those stores should be. But, market development plans constantly change and require flexibility on the part of the franchisor and franchisees.
For example, when selecting a site, it’s important to keep in mind that often the best sites already have tenants in them. If you’re driving down the road and you see a site that seems perfect and it’s available, the first question you have to ask yourself is, “Why has no one else taken it?” The Smoothie King real estate team looks into it to see if it truly is too good to be true.
It very well may turn out that a store in a tier 2 category location is actually better, so it’s incumbent upon Smoothie King and the franchisee to move on it. When you put stores in the right places, you maximize opportunity. But, if you act haphazardly, you end up putting stores in the wrong places because you don’t truly know where they should go.
When building stores in existing markets, we also consider how close they can be to each other without cannibalizing sales, generating synergies in marketing to get local consumers talking about us and how to maximize the total return in the market – because we want our franchisees to be as profitable as possible.