Planet Smoothie Franchise Owners Get Amazing Support From The Very Start
A robust onboarding and training system ensures that each franchise owner is comfortable and confident before the very first day of business
Ask any Planet Smoothie franchise owner what they were the most nervous about after they decided to take the leap into small-business ownership, and the answer will likely be a variation on this theme: “That I wouldn’t know what I was doing and would run into trouble.”
It’s a valid concern, and one that the corporate team at Planet Smoothie hears all the time. That’s why a strong onboarding, training and development program engages with new franchise owners right away, says Stacey Wopnford, Vice President of Operations for Planet Smoothie. Here’s how it works:
At what point in time do you begin to interact with a potential or a new Planet Smoothie owner?
Wopnford: I typically have a conversation with the franchisee before the franchise agreement is executed, just to get to know the franchisee, and introduce myself.
What happens to them after they have these conversations with you, and the agreements are executed?
Wopnford: One of the first things we do that I really like, and the franchisees really appreciate, is we have a welcome call with all the key members from the brand. We get store development training, myself and marketing all on an introduction call, and we get to know each other better. We find out their past history, what they’ve done before they become a franchisee and we all just introduce ourselves. We make sure to share contact information, set up next steps and timelines, so they feel more comfortable with what’s coming up. And then after that, we all reach out to the franchisee separately, and get to know them even better. So it’s a great process.
What comes next while the real estate and buildout process is going on?
Wopnford: Once we get the store under construction – which is important because we don’t want to train too early – and we know the target opening date, we do in-store training and we also hold a week of training at Kahala headquarters in Arizona. The in-store training is in an actual Planet Smoothie store, so they will work at an operating store, and actually learn how to make smoothies, run a Planet Smoothie, and get a feel for the operations first-hand.
So when they come out they can make a smoothie, they can do inventory, they can do payroll, etc.?
Wopnford: Yes, they’ll learn how to place orders, do inventory, write a schedule, work with the point of sale system so they know how to ring up an order, and also how to do all their end-of-day things — and also of course make the best-tasting smoothie on the planet.
Going back to the location buildout, do you help with site selection?
Wopnford: We do. Our area developers and the team at Kahala actually approves the site location. We look at the site, look at all the parameters and some research on traffic patterns to make sure it’s going to be a workable location for that franchise owner.
Location is everything in business like this. What are some must-haves for a Planet Smoothie site?
Wopnford: Obviously we do really well around universities, schools and hospitals, due to the foot traffic. Parking is important too, and a fun energized area is always great for smoothies.
Now the ribbon-cutting has happened, the Chamber of Commerce pictures have been taken, the owners are looking around and they’re terrified that they’ve been left alone. How do you soothe those nerves?
Wopnford: They either have a Regional Director of Operations from Kahala Brands or an Area Developer in their territory to support them on a day to day basis. Marketing also is very important and our National Director of Marketing makes sure from the time they sign the Franchise Agreement to the day they open, their marketing plan has been developed.
How often do you go out to see people in the field just to make sure everything’s OK? Or step in if they need a little course correction, or just some assurance?
Wopnford: I try to attend as many grand openings as possible, which can be challenging as we now have more than one store opening a week! But I try to go to visit them, reach out to them and make sure they are getting the support from my team as much as possible.
So if you only have five minutes to tell someone why they should own a Planet Smoothie franchise, what’s that going to sound like?
Wopnford: I definitely make sure they understand that it is the best-tasting smoothie on the planet, that everything we do is about that. I also would like to talk about how we support our stores, how I get up every day and work on ways to increase same-store sales for them so that my franchisees are profitable and successful. I also would want them to know that we have created a team that does a great job supporting our franchisee community.
What’s your favorite part of being in a Planet Smoothie store after all this time?
Wopnford: I think my favorite thing is getting to know the crew members. I get to know my franchisees very closely, but when I come to stores most of the time I haven’t really met a lot of the crew members. So talking to them, and getting their ideas and their feedback, is really important because they are the ones in close contact with the guests in our store.
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.