Kahala Brands President Talks Planet Smoothie Franchise Growth Plans & More
From upping same-store sales with improved menu items to entering new markets, look for a busy 2016 as the Planet Smoothie brand gets supercharged
It’s a good sign for any brand when a suitor wants to add it to their strong portfolio. Such a marriage took place in June 2015 between Kahala Brands and the Planet Smoothie franchise, which is now part of a powerhouse operation with more than a dozen well-known brands in competitive markets around the United States and the world.
“Planet Smoothie is a great fit for us,” says Stacey Wopnford, Vice President of Operations. “There’s the consistent high quality of the product, but there were a lot of other differentiators, as well. They stack up very well against their competitors in the healthy-living food space, and they were very forward-thinking in terms of menu development.”
Growth to come in many ways
Planet Smoothie franchise growth is going to happen through existing franchise owners adding new sites, as well as by the company bringing in more owners in current and new markets, Stacey says.
“We are looking at California, for example, as a significant growth market,” she explains. “We’re working with an area developer in Los Angeles County, but also in several other markets.”
An area developer is an individual or entity that purchases rights to a large territory and then proceeds to develop multiple stores within it. It’s a viable concept because it allows local ownership that aids in the savvy siting of locations in prime real estate.
“Those developers know the ground, and they’re aware of projects like new malls or other places that will draw people — so they move accordingly,” Stacey says. “The developer may operate their own stores, or they may have franchise agreements with individuals who operate under them, which makes the business even more localized. It’s a very successful model.”
Developing a trusted brand takes skill
Since the purchase, Stacey and her team have been working to get to know the Planet Smoothie franchise community that already is in place. That means sit-down conversations to learn from franchisees’ successes, and to see where any pain points are that could inhibit growth.
“We want to know where they came from, where they are and where they want to be,” Stacey says. “It’s not just calls — we’re going out and meeting them. And we’re not just rushing in and doing a lot of things. We are learning why people make the decisions they do around their business operations, and watching how they run their stores. We want to know what’s working and then create the best ways to add Kahala’s strengths to create the most effective synergies.”
That includes new-product research and development, as well as enterprise-wide point of sale and consumer marketing, she notes.
“We’re looking at menu labeling and menu board changes, as well as promotions and programs to get people into the stores for the first time, or back into the stores if it’s been awhile,” Stacey says. “It’s a great time to be coming in, and we finished 2015 with over double-digit same-store sales growth. We’re going to build on that with everything we do.”