Meet Planet Smoothie Franchise Area Developer Jason Mann
From single-store to multi-unit owner and eventually Area Developer, this entrepreneur has embraced Planet Smoothie’s potential at every turn
As Area Developer for Planet Smoothie® franchise locations in the state of Florida and the southern part of Georgia, Jason Mann has plenty to do. Now add to that his responsibilities as a franchise owner himself, and his days could look pretty daunting. Even so, after 20 years in the business he says he’s enjoying it all, and eager for more.
Twenty years — that’s a long journey with Planet Smoothie. What got you into the brand in the first place?
I have been in sales my entire life, so in 1999 I was managing a territory in the Northwest when I got a call from my father who had been in the convenience business for more than 25 years. We were looking for something that would be a fit, and my father went into a Planet Smoothie inside a convenience store in Jacksonville, Florida. He thought it would be a great fit for me because of the age of the team members that were there, the excitement of the brand itself, and he also cared about the good food costs and good labor costs. Then he looked down into the trash can at a lot of straw wrappers. He said “Bingo” and that’s how we started.
Planet Smoothie as a brand has grown a lot over the years. What has it been like as one of the early owners to watch the brand take off and become well known?
It’s truly exciting, not just watching the brand grow, but because great brands are built by great people. Watching people grow their business has been exciting, and also the chance to work with a lot of really great people. It’s been a tremendous experience.
How many stores do you have, and how many are you responsible for in the territory?
I personally own and operate three franchise units, and then up underneath the area representative territories are 50 franchise units.
What does an area rep do?
We are more or less a hybrid in between the franchisor and franchisee. Think about it this way: What we do as an area representative, we work for the franchisees through their entire life cycle with Planet Smoothie. Planet Smoothie’s corporate office has really fantastic departments that the franchisee will work with on an ongoing basis: marketing, store development, real estate, operations and more. My team actually works with the franchisees embedded in the market.
We work shoulder to shoulder with some of the franchisees from the first phone call, through the investigative process, finding real estate, the store development process, right there working with the corporate office as they go through management training, then getting the store open and all the consulting on the backside. And one day there’s going to be an exit strategy, to one day retire, and we are going to be there for them as well.
When people are assessing a franchise, when they are looking at different types of franchises, they are really leery of something that seems kind of a fad. Planet Smoothie has been around for a long time; can you talk a little bit about that?
The reason that Planet Smoothie has been around for as long as it has is because people are changing the way they eat, because of the demands on our time, because of the demands on better nutrition, and being able to find ways of getting nutrition in a convenient fashion, quickly. We fit that particular niche. We are a whole-food product, so naturally we have the nutrition, but we also have some other great products such as your supplemental vitamins, getting your protein in for the day. So because of that we become a staple component of a person’s diet as opposed to just a dessert or a treat. We’re actually part of how people bring nutrition to themselves on a daily basis.
What has Planet Smoothie franchise allowed you to do, in terms of your own business goals?
I have been able to grow with a brand through helping it develop people, because at the end of the day great brand owners should be developing great people. I get the amazing opportunity to help people start a business and really develop their business, but also develop their dreams. My biggest goal is to be able to be successful through helping other people be successful.
This has been a fantastic business for not just me, but my family. And again I’ve got to work with really fantastic people, and got the opportunity to help develop their successes, and that’s helped. I feel like I’m in a great place.
What was your day like as a new store owner vs. what it’s like now with a fair amount of time under your belt as a store owner?
I was doing everything store owners do, you know we wear all hats, and so we were opening the store, we were making the smoothies for the guests. I was outside in banana suit and a sign waving people in. I became mayor of our village, getting out into the community and marketing the heck out of our product. At the same time we were inside the store making the smoothies, talking to the guests and developing relationships.
Today, full-time autonomous managers run our operations, and we develop our management team and also our line level team members, so my time now is spent directly with those general managers and with the team making sure they are executing what they need to do inside the operation.
What are some things you think a good owner, a successful owner, is going to need to bring to the table in terms of their personal traits?
One of the success factors for a franchisee is going to be enthusiasm and passion. That really filters down through the team members and to the guests. Determination is super important for what we do, because not every day is easy. I always say, “This is a simple business but it’s not easy; you have to have grit, you’ve got to have that firepower to really drive through those tough times to get to the prosperous times.” So passion and grit are the two really important keys.
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.