Focusing the growth of our smoothie franchise system in the northeast region of the United States is part of our post-1,000th store opening plan. The opportunity for expansion in that area is significant as we march toward our goal to open our 1,800th domestic store by 2023.
With an existing presence in the region, it’s time to build upon it as natural brand evolution. We’ve built a strong presence in the South and Southeast corridor over the last four or five years. So, with a greater focus, we’re going to expand our footprint from Virginia up through New York and west to Pittsburgh.
Rule the Day, Rule the Markets
With several successful corporate-owned and franchised Smoothie King stores in Washington, DC, and Baltimore, Maryland, we have established a strong brand presence in the mid-Atlantic region, and naturally, we want to expand northward.
We’re placing an emphasis on developing the Philadelphia market, which includes parts of western New Jersey. Development in New Jersey is starting to take off. We have a new area developer in the state, who is an existing franchisee. He has committed to developing 10 more units in that market, and we’ve awarded more franchises there.
Philadelphia proper, where there is strong demand for franchise brands, is an area where we have an immense opportunity to expand our presence. In the market, we have 11 stores open and three in development. By the end of the year, we’ll have 14 stores open in Philadelphia, which outpaces our top three competitors. They have only nine, eight and three stores, respectively.
Philadelphia is a burgeoning market with an abundance of opportunities for franchisees to get in on the ground floor and pick the most viable areas. Passionate franchisees can be a part of growing the brand in their area.
We know the franchising interest is there along with strong brand awareness, thanks to national TV and radio ads, meeting with prospective franchisees, and more Smoothie King locations opening up. The market has the right demographics and strong unit economics. We believe we can put a total of 102 stores in the entire Philadelphia market when all is said and done.
New York, which also encompasses parts of New Jersey, is another market in the northeast we’re honing in on. We have strong momentum in New York, which includes a highly successful location that opened up in the northern part of the state along with other existing locations and several new locations that are opening soon.
Like Philly, New York is another ground-floor market for Smoothie King with plenty of opportunities for franchisees to lead brand awareness building.
Passion to Grow is the Key Ingredient
Although we’re outpacing our competitors in Philadelphia, and we’re developing a strong presence in New York and New Jersey, we’re looking to further penetrate those markets with strong multi-unit operators along with some single-unit franchisees. While courting solely multi-unit franchisees may seem like the most efficient way to expand a franchise brand’s footprint, Smoothie King has experienced tremendous success building brand presence with single-unit franchisees, too. It all comes down to whom we award franchises.
We want people who are passionate about our brand and want to grow the brand as well as their own footprint. Our franchisees have opportunities to grow with us once they get into the system, especially those who are passionate about Smoothie King. For instance, about 70 percent of our annual growth over the past five years is from existing franchise owners. We know our single-unit franchisees want to grow and provide the brand with real expansion potential.
Our Proven Growth Strategy
But, rapid growth in emerging markets, like Philly, New York and New Jersey, also requires multi-unit franchisees. They help establish visibility quickly with strong sites, which will establish branding and open the eyes of other entrepreneurs as well as consumers in the market. Often, when consumers see stores opening up throughout their region, they become curious and look into the franchise opportunity.
We’ve seen this before. In some of our most saturated markets, we started out with just a few locations and in a 10-year span, we’ve captured 80 percent of the market. It can happen quickly with the right mix of multi-unit and single-unit franchisees.
Although we and our franchisees are eager to dominate new markets quickly, the right kind of growth requires patience as we seek locations with high visibility and which will be profitable for franchise owners.
The real estate available in markets, especially in urban areas, dictates the types of stores that will open. We encourage our franchisees to seek out drive-thru opportunities, either endcap or freestanding, and we have a real estate team to assist with site selection. However, if we can’t find drive-thrus because inventory is at a premium and in high demand by all QSRs, then we’ll look for inline sites that meet our criteria. If a site doesn’t meet our criteria, we’re not going to approve it.
We urge our franchisees to be patient when it comes to site selection. There’s nothing more important than where you’re going to open your business. They have to be strong, viable locations for our franchisees.
Do you want to be part of our expanding smoothie franchise brand with strong brand recognition and numerous ground-floor opportunities in emerging markets? Contact us today!