How Florida Planet Smoothie Franchise Owner Opens Multiple Locations
Once he’d gotten one Planet Smoothie franchise up and running, this franchisee took advantage of the company’s scalability
When he opened his first Planet Smoothie franchise in 2001, Adam Bermudez was excited to be owning and operating his own small business. Fast-forward 15 years, and he’s still excited — but now he has grown his involvement to several locations.
The growth has come about organically, thanks to opportunities within the Orlando market, and to the efficiency of Planet Smoothie’s operational systems. For Adam, a longtime Disney resort employee, it’s the perfect setup.
What got you into Planet Smoothie in the first place?
My girlfriend at the time brought me a strawberry Mr. Mongo with protein, and I was hooked. I’d had smoothies from other places and not thought much about it. But when we got married and I moved to Kissimmee, there was no store in the area. I was thinking about maybe opening a Planet Smoothie, and then we saw a sign that one was coming to Hunter’s Creek. I talked to the manager there, and then with the owner, Geoff Gaskin, who had nine stores at the time. Soon I was on the website looking at franchise options and filling out forms for more information.
What happened next?
Three weeks later I was signing an agreement for three stores! We wound up taking over two of Geoff’s stores, and so we thought we’d get some practice before we opened our new stores. But the way things worked out, our first new-build store opened on Oct. 1, 2001, and four days later we took over the other two stores. We wound up with three stores in less than a week!
Eventually my wife and I divorced. She kept the two stores we took over, and I kept the first store we built, in Oviedo. I also kept the rights to the future stores and opened Baldwin Park in 2004 and Casselberry in 2008. I’m in negations for a fourth store in Hamlin.
What was the appeal with Planet Smoothie?
I like the product; it’s actual food. The concept is fairly easy to run, and you don’t have all the red tape and regulations that you do with an actual restaurant in terms of cooking temperatures and dealing with food-borne illnesses.
How has ownership changed for you over time?
I’m not in the stores nearly as much. At first, I was there all the time, but then I hired managers for each store. Now my General Manager Yuliya Mariani is running all the stores on a daily basis, and she is doing a great job. I just come in to handle the bills and all the paperwork.
I’m still involved in each store, but having Yuliya and store managers in place has allowed me to step back and look at the larger picture in terms of growing my business. That has been very important to me because I want a business that can run itself as much as possible. I want my focus to be on building new stores and getting those up and running. That has meant hiring really high-quality managers, though, because you need that talent to make sure everything at the existing sites is being properly operated.
The juice and smoothie industry is exploding. How has that been a challenge?
A lot of other concepts are adding smoothies to their lines — I remember when McDonald’s suddenly had them on the menu. A lot of my fellow franchise owners saw that as a bad thing, but I viewed it as an opportunity. The way I see it, the more people who are introduced to the smoothie concept, the better. If they try it and like it, then they’re going to want something that’s much better. That’s when they come to us and see what a premium smoothie tastes like — we’ll retain them as customers from there.
There are other Planet Smoothie franchisees in your market. Do you overlap?
We have our own co-op, and that makes things much easier. If I run out of a product, I can borrow from another store rather than wait for the next shipment. Our togetherness has helped us grow as a brand in the Orlando area, and that’s very important because the competition is growing, too.
We are pleased so far with our new corporate ownership. The Kahala Brands team is working to improve our marketing and point-of-purchase branding, and they have the resources to really make a difference in that regard. That’s going to allow us to do even better locally.
Now that you’re 15 years in, what’s your advice for someone who’s just coming on board?
The processes are in place, all you have to do is follow them. The information is there for you to run this business as efficiently as possible, but I did have to learn a lot about everything from fruit seasons to how suppliers operated. The main thing is to get good people working for you and get out of their way. Make sure your store is being run the way you want it to be, and then it will take care of itself. Get out as much as possible, do the marketing, talk to potential customers, and be out working to grow what you’ve got rather than being behind the counter and in the way.