Growing on Purpose: Best Practices for Franchisors to Scale their System with Conviction in Today’s World

Franchise Development

Growing on Purpose: Best Practices for Franchisors to Scale their System with Conviction in Today’s World

By Wan Kim, CEO of Smoothie King  

Less than 10 years ago, Smoothie King had no more than 533 locations worldwide and was well-known for its delicious – but not necessarily nutritious – smoothies.

It’s a different story now, both for the business and the brand. We still maintain our position as the world’s leading smoothie franchisee, but we recently exceeded 1,300 global locations and achieved our ninth-straight year of same-store sales growth.

Even amid a global pandemic, where the economy made it difficult on so many businesses, we persevered: opening a record-breaking number of stores – 71 U.S. locations and 192 international locations – and receiving 91 signed agreements that are expected to produce 111 stores. In the second half of 2020, our same-store sales growth jumped 12.2% year-over-year, and we outpaced that momentum in the first quarter of 2021 – experiencing an 18% increase in sales. 

A main reason why we’ve been able to keep a strong development pace is because of our unwavering commitment to our franchisees, guests, team members and brand mission – to inspire healthy and active lifestyles.

Our mission is purposeful, and so are our actions that directly stem from it. As you reflect inwardly on how to scale your franchise business with confidence and conviction, especially in a post-pandemic world, here are a few practices that prove to be instrumental in our growth success.

Let Your “Purpose” Guide Your Development  

Our franchise system continues to grow because of our brand’s mission and vision and how we help our franchisees fulfil those promises. Franchise growth is a direct result of keeping your system focused on the most-important tasks at hand: what’s going to best support our franchisees, what’s in the best interest of our franchisees, what matters most to our guests and how can we effectively deliver to both?

For Smoothie King, guests choose us because we conveniently align with their healthy lifestyle goals – based on our product lines, nutritious ingredients and multiple ordering options. Think about what makes your franchise special. Consider the differentiators that truly attract franchisees and guests, and make decisions based directly off those.

Whatever your purpose is, let it serve as a filter for making decisions – especially as it concerns future development.

Focus on the Right Ingredients

We understand the perfect blend for sustainable growth is a heightened focus on three key ingredients: health, safety and convenience.

Think about what factors are going to put your franchise in the best position to succeed. Not to assume anything, but after the year we just had, safety is probably a major emphasis for nearly all franchise systems, and it’s definitely not something to take lightly. Even with multiple vaccines, franchisors need to over communicate to franchisees the importance of showing their team members they have a safe place to work and guests have a safe small business to support.

Communication can only get you so far, though. It’s important to actively implement those important factors into your franchise system – like wood to a fire. In terms of safety, for example, this can include frequent wellness checks on team members and adding more ways customers can safely receive your products and services.

Whatever “ingredients” you choose to prioritize, ask yourself, “Will these put us in the best position to attract more customers while retaining our current ones? Will they demonstrate and provide support to our franchisees?” If they answer to either is no, then it may not be the right ingredient for your franchise system.

Support Your Franchisees, Always

In 2020, there were 65 existing franchisees who chose to reinvest in Smoothie King. That’s because they understand, believe in and have experienced the reliable, world-class support we offer.

As a franchisor, your goals and operations need to be aligned in order to deliver the education, support and inspiration franchisees require to run a successful business. From product development designed to meet the evolving needs of today’s customers to site-selection and everything else in between, the corporate office and the franchisees have to on the same page.

The recent pandemic only heighted the importance of supporting your franchisees, and how franchisors responded is likely to have a major effect on the success of their systems moving forward – one way or the other. In good times and tough times, franchisors have to show empathy for their owners and provide them with the necessary tools to succeed. It’s not enough to rest on laurels or assume “how you’re doing it today” is going to work tomorrow.

Franchisees want to invest in systems they believe in, ones that are going to put them in the best position to achieve success. As a franchisor, constant support is the only way to attract and retain quality owners.

Wan Kim became Smoothie King's first international franchisee when he opened a store location in South Korea in 2003. Over the next five years, he launched and grew the brand to 120 locations in that country. In 2012, Wan approached Smoothie King's founders, Steve and Cindy Kuhnau, to purchase the company. Under Kim’s leadership, Smoothie King has experienced unprecedented growth. Between 2012 and 2020, the total store count rose from 533 locations to more than 1,300 restaurants. During the same time frame, the average unit volume increased from roughly $361,000 to $521,000, a compound annual growth rate of 4 percent. His experience as a guest, a franchisee, and now a global CEO continues to help guide the brand’s mission to inspire healthy and active lifestyles worldwide.  For more information and franchise opportunities for International Franchise Association (IFA) franchisor member Smoothie King, click here.