Meet Planet Smoothie Franchise Owners Braxton & Stephanie Skinner
Building their own business while maintaining high-level corporate careers is a challenge these Florida entrepreneurs were willing and eager to accept
A love of Planet Smoothie™️ during her college days led Stephanie Skinner to explore owning a franchise, a goal husband Braxton was only too happy to support once he took a closer look at the business model. Now, almost a year in, the two talk about their Planet Smoothie franchise journey, and how it’s paying off for them.
How did you learn about Planet Smoothie in the first place?
Stephanie Skinner: I absolutely fell in love with the product in college at the University of Florida. I was almost a daily visitor to that place, so naturally when we were looking into investment opportunities, my husband and I thought about Planet Smoothie. We thought the concept was great. It’s refreshing; it’s inviting, and so it was a definite fit for us.
What does your history with Planet Smoothie say to you about the brand’s longevity?
Stephanie Skinner: Planet Smoothie has been around for a long time, and their concept is not going to go anywhere. Nowadays, when it comes to purchasing food quickly, everyone is looking for a more refreshing item to buy vs. a heavier meal. I feel like smoothies are just going to become more popular.
Braxton Skinner: Before we acquired the business, we went through our own investigation. The first thing we did was start snooping around other Planet Smoothies. We’d sit and enjoy the atmosphere. I think we started to build our network of other Planet Smoothie owners prior to even getting involved. They helped coach us and also helped encourage us along the way, and that’s what kind of sealed the deal for us with Planet Smoothie.
Once you decided to reach out, what was your journey to ownership like?
Stephanie Skinner: I reached out to Jason Mann, our Area Representative, and he was just full of information. I always strive for A-pluses, so I grabbed my notebook really quickly, because I didn’t expect to get him on the phone right away! I wrote everything down he was telling me and had a long discussion with my husband after we finished, and then we found out that there was an existing store that was actually for sale. From there, we moved pretty quickly, and now we own that location.
Braxton Skinner: I think what got us interested in owning a business is that our careers are doing pretty well, but there still wasn’t that sense of freedom and pride in what we do, that sense of ownership that every effort impacts our success. We were interested in franchising because we wanted the mentorship. We wanted the reputation. We wanted the branding, and honestly, if we were in over our heads, we wanted someone we can call to help us out.
What is it about Planet Smoothie that you think makes it different than other smoothie options on the market?
Stephanie : Real fruit. A lot of times you go to a smoothie place and they use fruit juices, and juices can be full of sugar. You don’t really know how much fruit is in there that’s diluted with water. I just absolutely love the fact that we have real mangoes and real pineapple, and real everything. That’s always why I chose Planet Smoothie.
Do you have regular customers that come in every day?
Stephanie: Oh, absolutely. We call those customers VIPs. We actually have a book of VIPs with their recipe recorded, and we put them on our POS system so any time one of our regular employees makes their smoothie, they can press the button that says ‘Tom,’ and Tom’s ready to go. We want to make sure that our VIPs are celebrated. We do that by addressing them by name, making sure that we can have their smoothie ready as fast as possible.
Why is that important for a business owner?
Stephanie: I never know what type of day my customer has had. You don’t know what that customer has been through before they’re walking into our doors. If they’re having a great day, we want to make sure that they continue to have a great day and have a great experience with us. More importantly, if they’re not having such a great day, we want to make sure that we’re that ray of sunshine. They come in, they see a smile, they’re greeted, they’re promptly waited on — and it’s tasty!.
How was the on-boarding and training experience for you?
Stephanie: I didn’t expect the intensive training that we went through. I was a little nervous before opening a store. I knew nothing about it, and then afterwards I’m like, ‘Oh hey, I think I can do this. I think I can replicate this training to my employees and I think we’re going to be OK.’ It was intense but it prepared me in the way that I needed to be prepared.
Braxton: I think corporate has been phenomenal. When I have a problem, I know exactly who to call, and nine times out of 10 they’ve got an answer. If they don’t, I get a phone call back within 30 minutes. I feel like I have a personal relationship with my area rep, and again, mentorship from other stores as well. Definitely the team we talked about.
What are some qualities you think make a really good Planet Smoothie owner?
Stephanie: Be energetic, be proud. It’s so important that my team members are giving our guests an amazing experience. When I come in, I have a smile on my face. I say hi to everyone, I’m making sure that I build up the morale as much as I can for the time that I’m here. Of course, I want to make sure that they feel as though they’re supported in the type of attitude that we want to share in front of our customers, and that they’re not just trained well, but also they have a role model and a good example of how to treat the guest.
Braxton: Ask the questions that you’re curious about. There’s no question too stupid. There’s no question too small. It’s a scary thing to do. It’s a big stepping stone, but we have people here to help out. Asking the questions, getting the answers you need to feel comfortable, do it because that’s what helped us seal the deal.
Why is now a good time to own a Planet Smoothie Franchise?
Stephanie: If you’re thinking about getting a Planet Smoothie, there’s no better time than now, because you’re losing valuable time that you could be building a team, getting those VIPs in… you’re missing out on so much. Pull the trigger!
Braxton: This is something that is more than just trendy. We have multiple customers who come here every single day and their day isn’t as good unless they have their smoothie. People love the brand, and they become very loyal to you.
Planet Smoothie is a smoothie franchise that sets itself apart by offering great-tasting smoothies that use healthier, natural ingredients. In a side-by-side comparison, our smoothies generally have less sugar and fewer calories — a big competitive advantage as Americans actively seek out healthier options. Planet Smoothie is led by a veteran franchise team and dedicated brand support team as part of the Kahala Brands™ family.