Meet Father-Daughter Planet Smoothie Franchisees Natalie & Luis Rivera
Many families want to own and operate a small business together, and a Planet Smoothie franchise makes doing so both easy and fun
The busy Rivera family always enjoys spending time together, so it was only natural that the family began looking at business opportunities as the children grew into adults. After exploring franchise options, the Riveras settled on a Planet Smoothie franchise, which they opened in December 2018 in a busy area of Orlando, Florida. Here, Natalie Rivera and her father Luis talk about their journey as small-business owners, and how a Planet Smoothie franchise is helping them meet personal and professional goals.
How did you begin your journey to becoming Planet Smoothie franchise owners?
Natalie Rivera: I was managing restaurants, and I decided to open my own place. I was thinking about a restaurant, but once I sat down and talked it out with my parents, we decided to look into franchises, and see if we could find something we could do together.
Luis Rivera: I’m still a manager for FedEx Ground, but I wanted to do something else on the side.
What appealed to you about franchising versus opening your own stand-alone business?
Natalie Rivera: The structure. We reached out to a few franchises, and [Area Developer Jason Mann] reached out to us the quickest. He was super on top of it, very engaging with us. He took us to a store, and we could see this brand was the best choice. It is simple and easy, both in terms of operations and the ingredients and the concept.
Luis Rivera: For a couple of years we were looking at different franchises. All my life I’ve been trying to do something else other than working in the corp orate world. We came across Planet Smoothie and we liked the concept — there are so many pizza places, so many Chinese food places … it was something different.
Were you familiar with how a smoothie shop runs?
Natalie: Surprisingly, not at all. I’ve never thought about it. Obviously, Florida is hot, and we have smoothies around all the time. Everyone knows Planet Smoothie, so I knew the brand, but had never really considered owning one — I had a lot to learn!
Once you decided to move ahead with your own franchise, how was the training process and getting up to speed?
Natalie: Going to the corporate headquarters in Arizona was fun. We had the operational training, but also additional things like the history of Planet Smoothie, which I thought was very interesting.
Luis Rivera: Jason took us by the hand throughout the whole process. I’ve called so much asking questions, at times I was almost ashamed, but he and other members of the corporate team were always available to help.
How did you choose your location?
Natalie: I live close to here, so I knew the area. It’s next to several colleges, which also made it a very good choice. We knew we had potential clients from nearby apartment buildings and other businesses in the plaza where we are, including a gym.
What has surprised you about this food business?
Natalie: The customers. I’m used to a certain type of interaction with guests in a full-service restaurant. Here it is more one-on-one, very personal. People come in and you actually know them. You know their backgrounds; you know their kids. So it’s definitely a lot more personal.
How are you marketing the business?
Luis: Every Friday we focus on one segment of the community like the doctors’ offices, apartment complexes, businesses and the car dealerships close by here. I introduce myself as the business owner, I express the desire to partner with them in any kind of event, like customer appreciation days. We also have taken smoothies to events like local government lunches, so we are building awareness that way as well.
What’s one thing you think somebody would need to have in their personal makeup if they were going to open up a Planet Smoothie and do well?
Natalie: I think they would need to have personal passion. Don’t go in with a certain mindset of, ‘I just opened a business and someone else is going to run it, and it’s just making money for me.’ Have the mindset that something is yours. Own it fully and be there ready to engage.
Luis: This is a great business if you are a people person, if you like to give back to your community, if you like to be involved.
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.