Planet Smoothie Franchise Review: Q&A with Mo Rafiq
Why a 20 year veteran of the food service industry now has six co-branded Planet Smoothie franchise locations.
For Planet Smoothie franchise owner Mo Rafiq, the quality of the brand stood out when he first visited a location in Atlanta, Georgia, several years ago. That inspired Mo to look into the smoothie franchise, and since then he has partnered with Planet Smoothie for six co-branded locations in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area. Mo is an enthusiastic owner, and his experience with the brand has led to an increase of revenue and a growing base of regular customers at each of his Planet Smoothie franchise locations.
Here’s his story.
What did you do before owning a Planet Smoothie franchise?
Mo Rafiq: I’ve been involved in all types of food service for nearly 20 years. I currently own 24 stores, six of which are co-branded Planet Smoothie locations. The majority of my stores are snack cafes that specialize in ice cream and pretzels.
How did you find out about Planet Smoothie?
When the first-ever Planet Smoothie location opened in Atlanta, Georgia, I was impressed with the simplicity of the operation and the quality of the products. At the time, the market for healthy food options was underrepresented. I felt that there was an opportunity to offer a better-quality smoothie than what was available in other smoothie shops, so when Planet Smoothie entered the market and really focused on the quality of the products, we felt that they were a good match for us. I think they’ve done a tremendous job.
When the opportunity to buy the first store became available, I bought it immediately. Corporate now owns it, but I still have six other Planet Smoothie locations.
What do you like most about owning a Planet Smoothie franchise?
The quality of the Planet Smoothie brand is at the highest level. I’ve also found that Planet Smoothie blends extremely well with other brands. The smoothies do not cannibalize our other sales, in fact, they’ve only increased our overall sales. It’s a great complementary product; smoothies are perceived as healthier, whereas pretzels or ice cream are seen as more of an indulgence.
What is the headquarters team like?
I think they’re tremendous. Their attention to detail is above and beyond what other franchisors can offer. The corporate team is just as passionate about the brand as we are as Planet Smoothie franchise owners. There are so many nuances to the level of service they provide for franchisees.
As an example, during my most recent Planet Smoothie opening in Charlotte, North Carolina, they were involved in the development of the store from the beginning. They helped me determine the nuances of the market and operations, even though this wasn’t my first time around the block. They spoke to me every week to gauge the progress and held my hand throughout the entire process. Prior to opening, they sent a team member to our store to support us and to help with training staff. Since we’ve opened, they have sent a team member to visit our store and to see how things are going. They just helped with all of the elements in opening the business. Planet Smoothie is also great at working with other franchisors, which is important for me because my stores are all co-branded.
The marketing team is also tremendous. They really focus on local stores, which is fantastic.
Where do your customers come from?
Our Planet Smoothie customers are typically women. We appeal to a wide range of people because our menu is so diverse. About half of our smoothies are engineered specifically for taste, and half are designed as healthy meal replacements — meeting very specific nutritional needs. Because of that aspect, we get a lot of fitness enthusiasts. They tend to be regular customers, because they are after a specific thing from us. They want to get a smoothie before or after they go to the gym.
Building a regular base of customers is one of the biggest opportunities for a Planet Smoothie franchise owner. Every Planet Smoothie location I own has experienced amazing growth, even throughout the recession.
What would you tell someone interested in becoming a Planet Smoothie franchise owner?
Absolutely do it! I tell people that frequently because we’ve been so successful with it.