Planet Smoothie Franchisee Interview: Dallas Area Developer Blair Ritchey
Former pastor turned Planet Smoothie investor looks forward to building on momentum of record sales in 2018
It was a record sales year for Planet Smoothie® Franchisee Blair Ritchey’s McKinney, Texas, location and he looks forward to building on that success as he expands the brand in North Texas. Located just north of Dallas, the store is the flagship operation for McKinney, who is also an area developer for Planet Smoothie.
Not only did the store set an overall sales record for 2018, but the McKinney location had back-to-back months of sales records. “We set a new sales record every month from April through August,” Ritchey says. “It was a great summer sales wise. That sets us with new goals and new levels to meet. We’re excited about figuring out how 2019 can be better than 2018!”
We recently spoke with Ritchey, a former Wesleyan Church minister who joined the Planet Smoothie franchise family in 2012, to get an update on his plans for developing North Texas region.
To what do you attribute your record 2018?
We’re building on a solid foundation — a great product and great customer service. Our smoothie offerings are just really solid and our customer service is top notch. It’s a combination of a great product and great customer service, which is something we have built on consistently over the past 4 or 5 years. We continue to see both new customers and regular customers. It’s been a slow and steady growth for us.
We also are located in a vital retail center and we see a lot of day traffic. We are more family focused when kids are out of school, so we see business pick up. We also see more families coming in on the weekends. We have a great mix of customers — individuals coming in on their way to work, high school kids and people headed to the gym to workout or just finishing up a workout.
What drew you to the Planet Smoothie brand?
One of the things that attracted me to Planet Smoothie was the simplicity. The processes are not complex. I don’t have a restaurant background, so I needed something that wouldn’t overwhelm me on that part. The nice part of being part of a franchise like Planet Smoothie is the support from the corporate office.
I also have a foundation I work with, the International Student Foundation, which works with foster care kids. We provide college scholarships and mentoring. So ISF is my other hat I wear. That’s the great thing about franchising — it allows you to run your store and still have bandwidth to do other things.
What are your plans for expansion in the new year?
Our next phase of development is basically to reproduce ourselves. The thing that is so attractive for us is we have a brand that is a great brand as well as a great product and that’s obviously a big part of the equation.
The other thing is we just have a great territory. Planet Smoothie is a new brand for Texas.
We have several leads that we are in the process of working with. We are very optimistic about 2019 as the brand continues to grow and build. We’ll be introducing potential new franchisees to the brand and using our McKinney store as the pilot store to illustrate what a profitable store can look like.
We definitely feel like there is potential for more room to grow. We are pumped about our brand and the development of Planet Smoothie and its future and very glad it is a vital part of the community here.
How important is it to be a hands-on owner?
I have a manager who manages the openings and busiest times, but I’m in the store every day. I handle all the inventory, as well as staffing, scheduling and accounting.
What do you look for in a franchisee?
We look for people with a vision for the brand and a good sense of their community — they are involved in their community and they know it and they want to serve it. Most Planet Smoothies tend to be neighborhood type stores, so it’s beneficial if owners are part of the schools, gyms and communities they are serving.
Second, they are passionate about health and fitness in a sense that they want people to achieve their health and wellness goals.
Third, they have a keen business sense and the drive to make something successful. They have that sense of passion and work ethic.
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 brand’s 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.