Planet Smoothie Franchise Continues to Do Well in the New Normal
Brand President of the iconic smoothie franchise explains why owning a Planet Smoothie can be a wise career choice
Planet Smoothie®, the iconic smoothie franchise, has helped entrepreneurs excel in a business that people rely on for a convenient, delicious and healthier alternative to fast food. In recent months, we have seen how invaluable it can to be as part of a franchise system like Planet Smoothie.
With 25 years of experience in business, our smoothie franchise has the ability to remain nimble and adapt quickly to changes, which is a core reason why many of our franchise owners were able to keep their doors open during the recent pandemic. In 2019, Planet Smoothie launched a state-of-the-art mobile order platform that allows customers to order ahead prior to coming in store. Additionally, we quickly implemented curb-side service and safety measures to ensure the safety of our customers and employees.
For Stacy Wopnford, Brand President for Planet Smoothie, the recent pandemic reflects the true value proposition of franchising: entrepreneurs are never in business by themselves, and in good times and bad, they will receive the support they need. In this wide-ranging interview, Wopnford shares everything from how the iconic smoothie business model is designed to help franchisees maximize profitability, to what helps make Planet Smoothie a best-bet investment, to why franchising is more attractive than ever.
What was the experience overall for the Planet Smoothie franchise during the recent pandemic?
Wopnford: Covid-19 definitely affected our brand and our franchisees, and some stores were obviously more impacted than others. For instance, we had government-mandated closures of locations in non-traditional malls. However, for the most part, we were able to keep the majority of our brand’s restaurants operating under a safer model, which allowed franchisees to best keep crew members and customers safe.
We immediately implemented franchisor safety and sanitation policies, including a checklist for all of the high touchpoints in the restaurants and mandated masks and gloves. Honestly, our product proved more relevant than ever during this unfortunate time. If you think about it, the smoothie is the perfect, healthy, grab-and-go drink. Additionally, it travels well and comes with a straw and a lid, so it’s already covered, safe and convenient. Moreover, it certainly proved beneficial for essential workers whenever they needed a quick, healthier meal replacement to pick up as well.
Did you find that the way your customers ordered changed during this time?
Wopnford: Definitely. Keeping our brand’s customers and crew safe was our No. 1 priority. So we immediately pivoted towards a strong initiative of curbside and online ordering. Fortunately, we launched our new state-of-the-art mobile order platform at the end of 2019. Not only was it perfect timing, but we found it to be a tremendous help during this unfortunate time. From the beginning of March to the height of our online ordering, we saw an increase of 500% for our online ordering. We’ve found that our customers are really enjoying our mobile app and curbside pickup, too, and believe that this momentum will continue.
We really embraced third party delivering during this time as well. And it’s something that we’re encouraging all of our franchisees to get on board with.
The crisis showed how advantageous it is to be a part of a franchise system. How did the way you communicate with your franchisees change and how did you mobilize all of the resources from your support team to help them?
Wopnford: Being part of a franchise system is invaluable. Although our franchisees were aware of this, the crisis really showcased just how indispensable our support is, especially operations wise. So we increased our communications via phone calls, emails and webinars, which we used to review all of the information we sent to our franchisees. Granted, our franchisees weren’t used to receiving such a high volume of communication from us, but our communications were well received.
They needed timely information, guidance and operational support and we went above and beyond to deliver. Additionally, one of the great things that came out of this is the strengthened culture of our Franchisee Advisory Board. Before the pandemic, we typically met bi-monthly, but now we meet bi-weekly. Things are much more informal now and we continue to share information about what we’re seeing locally and across the country, which helps keep us aware of what is happening everywhere.
As the country reopens, are you finding that customers are returning to the stores?
Wopnford: Yes, in the states where they are allowed to reopen their stores. Some of our locations have reopened their dining rooms, while others are still pick-up only to remain safe.
Having said that, Planet Smoothie stores have always been a quick visit because most people who drink smoothies are always on-the-go. And even now, people are looking for a healthier meal replacement, not a place to hang out. We’ve had a huge increase in sales the past month, and have even had some stores that were already up in same-store sales compared to this time last year without the virus. Additionally, we even have some franchisees who are using this time to conduct local pop-up events to deliver smoothies and they have had great success.
Why is now a good time to invest in a Planet Smoothie franchise?
Wopnford: Smoothies are not only nutritious, but also Planet Smoothie has the best tasting smoothie on the planet. We use only the best, freshest ingredients, and our brand’s customers find any reason to visit us from morning to night. As a franchise opportunity, it’s a low cost investment compared to other concepts and offers an easy-to-operate business model. We don’t require cooking or many employees, which means it’s easier to keep everyone safe. Now more than ever, people are really looking for a convenient place to pick up a delicious healthier meal and Planet Smoothie has had that box checked for 25 years. Additionally, our exceptional support is unmatched with Kahala Brands™, one of the largest franchisors in the world.
Bring a Planet Smoothie franchise to your community today
Planet Smoothie is a simple, easy-to-operate business that doesn’t require any prior food experience. The smoothie market is strong and growing, and Planet Smoothie stands out with a menu built around real fruit and other healthier ingredients. Planet Smoothie has been around for 25 years because we do one thing really well: we make delicious smoothies. Capture a piece of the strong and growing smoothie industry with a Planet Smoothie franchise.