Planet Smoothie Franchise Review: Q&A with Colin MacGuire
Soccer player shares his passion for fitness and bringing healthier options to customers
Colin MacGuire always had an appreciation for healthier lifestyles. A big believer in staying fit and eating well, Colin was certain that there was untapped potential in a health-conscious industry.
So when a Planet Smoothie franchise became available in Winter Garden, Florida, he jumped at the chance to buy in. He liked the simplicity of the business model, and he had always wanted to strike out on his own. It was a great match, and it has suited his lifestyle since 2007.
“Soccer was my go-to sport,” Colin says. “I paid for college that way. Nutrition, health, all the protein stuff, I was always interested in that. I worked at a buddy’s Planet Smoothie to feel it out and see if I liked it, and I really liked everything about it.”
Here’s his story.
What did you do before owning a Planet Smoothie franchise?
I graduated from Queens University in North Carolina with a business degree. After school, I lived in Spain for a year. I’m originally from Tennessee, and I started my career at the Knoxville News Sentinel as the manager of newspaper carriers. But I always wanted to do my own thing.
How did you find out about Planet Smoothie?
I was born and raised in Knoxville, and I was always big into the health scene. A couple of my high school buddies invited me to check out Planet Smoothie as a business option. For a six-month period, I worked at a shop and was able to learn all there was to know. I was hooked. I committed to open a new shop in Winter Garden, which is north of Orlando. I knew the drive for more health-conscious options would help the industry continue to grow, so I figured it was a good business to get into. One of my buddies became a silent investor in the business. He has since moved back to Tennessee, and now I’m buying him out.
What do you like most about owning a Planet Smoothie franchise?
When I opened the business, I was 27. Now, I am 35. I enjoy working with the staff, and I particularly enjoy the healthiness of it. I like doing my own thing, having my own hours. That’s probably the most important piece — being on my own and not reporting to anyone. I’m kind of laid back, and I like having the freedom of owning my own business. I have a great manager who has been with me since the beginning. I can take a vacation whenever I want.
I also like that the business has a family atmosphere. Many of my employees have been here for years, and I know them well. I feel at ease when I take time off because my staff is so good. This has become more important of late because my fiancée and I like to go to football games. I’m a University of Tennessee Vols fan, and she’s a University of Florida Gators fan.
What is the headquarters team like?
What I really like about Planet Smoothie is that they are very proactive. We are offering a lot more healthy options, which is attractive to customers. We are offering greens now, using stevia and agave as sweeteners, using cocoa powder instead of chocolate syrup for our chocolate smoothies. I think we are definitely staying ahead of the competition, which makes me happy.
Where do your customers come from? Do you have many regulars?
We definitely have some very loyal customers. Plus, we are next to a gym, which is a big sales driver.
One of our best customers just moved to Texas. He used to come in twice a day, and he probably logged about a thousand visits. We would talk football and basketball, but we got to know another so well that we’re still in touch. I have another customer who is a big fan of soccer. Prince Fielder of the Texas Rangers is one of our customers. He and his wife come in during the offseason. My manager jokes that we are like bartenders. We really do get to know our customers’ life stories.
We also have a good sense of what our customers want when they walk in the door because they are so regular. Even with new customers, you can sometimes guess what selections they are leaning toward. For example, if they just came from the gym, we may recommend a protein-based smoothie. It’s always best after a workout to help muscles recover. We also get people who are looking for low-calorie options. Planet Smoothie does a lot of great things to make our smoothies healthier.
What would you tell someone interested in becoming a Planet Smoothie franchise owner?
I think you should plan to be an owner/operator for at least a few years. I have owned my business since 2007, and right now, I can step away. But you can’t have an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job and run a Planet Smoothie on the side, especially if you’ve never run a store.
It takes a little while to get your processes down so that everything runs smoothly. The first three years in operation, our sales were mostly flat. I started in 2007, though, so that was already the recession in Florida. The fourth year my numbers started to grow, and they are still on the rise.
As I get busier, I am trying to get systems in place so that things continue to run smoothly. It’s a good problem to have, but it has been a process.
Then, probably one of the most important components of owning a Planet Smoothie franchise is to love what you’re doing. If you’re not a people person, this business is not for you. Customers like coming into a store where people are friendly and have a lot of energy, and where the smoothies are great.
Has owning a Planet Smoothie helped meet your financial goals or given you more flexibility?
Yes. At this point it is exceeding what I had hoped for. The first three years, my business partner and I got by. It may not have grown as fast as we would have liked from 2007 to 2010, but two people were able to making a living off it. Now that the business has taken off, it has definitely exceeded my expectations.