How Planet Smoothie Leverages Experienced Restaurant Operators to Support Franchisees
Regional Director of Operations of Planet Smoothie shares how he uses his deep industry experience to help franchisees excel in business
Typically, happy and solid performing franchise owners have a seasoned and experienced support person who cares about their business and works to help ensure they do well over the long-term. Operating a business with a helpful, experienced and results-driven support person is what makes franchising attractive for many entrepreneurs.
Planet Smoothie® has Billy Ryan, Regional Director of Operations who has been with the smoothie franchise for the past nine years.
In nearly three decades, Planet Smoothie has grown to more than 140 locations in the U.S., and has earned a reputation for using real fruit and whole foods in our smoothies. Our exciting smoothie brand prides ourselves with having the best tasting smoothie on the planet®, and are dedicated to continuously meeting our guests’ needs for a healthier and tastier quick-service food option. More importantly, Planet Smoothie has decades of experience helping franchise owners succeed in business. This is why from the moment your franchise agreement is signed, our dedicated support team, including Ryan, will help you learn everything from our business model, to initial training to buildout to grand opening and more.
In this interview, Ryan shares how he goes to great lengths to help Planet Smoothie franchise owners excel in business:
What were you doing prior to becoming a corporate support team member for Planet Smoothie?
Ryan: I’ve worked in the restaurant industry most of my life and it doesn’t even feel like work. It all started when my family moved from Birmingham, Alabama to Chicago, Illinois when I was 12-years-old. Our next door neighbor owned and operated a Waffle House, and gave me my first job at 14. I worked hard and as the years passed, I eventually became a regional manager for the franchise after graduating from college. Since then, I’ve worked in various leadership roles at various well-known restaurants including Ruby Tuesday and The Cheesecake Factory. Ultimately, I enjoy being around people, enjoy helping franchise owners grow their businesses, and be their best self for their families and the communities that they live and work in.
The key thing about my role at Planet Smoothie is seeing franchise owners through the entire process on the operations side of the business. This includes training, teaching them how to use the POS system and our new online ordering system. Additionally, I teach them about profitability and how important it is to follow the recipes so that we aren’t wasting anything, which is why we food prep in advance. I say all the time that it’s important to value what the franchisor says because we’ve seen it all, which is why we have all these processes in place — to make the path to business ownership easier for our franchise owners.
Why did you decide to work for Planet Smoothie? How do they differ from other brands in the industry?
Ryan: After more than 30 years in the restaurant industry, I truly believe that the industry is all about people and starts with people. I think we have the best franchisees and team members in the world. We also have fantastic products, use high-quality ingredients, and create great value for our guests as far as price because of our purchasing power. We understand that value is everything for our guests, which is why we emphasize exceptional customer service and provide affordable, healthier and convenient products for our guests who are always on-the-go.
What makes being part of a franchise system more attractive than it was before the pandemic?
Ryan: First, you will not get the type of robust support we offer when you are an independent business owner. Second, there are hundreds of support staff like me who have been in the business for a long time, so they have decades of experience at their fingertips. That type of experience and knowledge is invaluable because you will always need someone in your corner. Third, time is very valuable, which is why I, and so many others, are always available and present for our franchise owners.
Many of our franchisees come from other segments of the non-restaurant world, or may be first-time entrepreneurs, and they have families, so it’s important that we guide them every step of the way to ensure they are as successful as they can be. This is why Planet Smoothie has built one of the most comprehensive training and support platforms in the industry. Not only is our business model easy to understand and highly scalable, Planet Smoothie provides marketing support, ongoing coaching, mentorship and more to ensure that our franchisees have the tools that they need to continue to grow.
What are you most proud of?
Ryan: After more than 30 years in the restaurant industry, I’m most proud of the relationships I’ve cultivated over the years. I have so many great relationships with franchisees that I consider are friends. The best part is watching them grow, and watching them evolve to become multi-unit owners. I like to think that I played a role in their growth by always answering my phone and providing guidance, coaching and mentoring. Additionally, it’s important to teach them to focus on what matters most, which is their guests and team because they are both critical to their success.
What are your hopes for the future?
Ryan: I think that Planet Smoothie will continue to grow. I want to remain right alongside it, helping our franchise owners be successful in business. As we grow, I think our guests will see a transformation where we are faster and quicker. Listening is key in this business and Planet Smoothie is passionate about keeping an ear to our guests so that we can continuously meet their needs. From there, we tap the talented people we have behind the scenes to execute the new ideas, which not only helps our franchise owners be the best they can, but also shows our guests that we hear them and are dedicated to meeting their needs.