Planet Smoothie Franchise Review: Q&A with Blair Ritchey
Dallas franchisees, Planet Smoothie franchise area developer plan to open 20 locations in three years
Blair Ritchey has big plans for the Planet Smoothie franchise in North Texas. The western Pennsylvania native was a Wesleyan Church minister before owning his first franchise in 2012. As a minister, he helped open churches throughout Texas. Now he sees an opportunity to do the same with Planet Smoothie.
Blair’s McKinney location north of Dallas is the flagship operation for other Planet Smoothies in North Texas. Blair plans to add dozens more, and there are prime locations available. As area developer for North Texas, he envisions as many as 20 Planet Smoothies from Sherman in the north to Dallas in the south and from Flower Mound in the west to Rockwall in the east.
What were you doing before Planet Smoothie?
I came to Dallas in 1985 as part of a church planting effort that targeted the North Dallas area. I always had an entrepreneurial bent with a ministerial background. In 1985 I moved to Plano to launch a start-from-scratch project. Later, as a district leader, I oversaw multiple churches and church planting projects. I loved that kind of work. It was a combination of investing in people’s lives and leadership development.
In 2011, a group of friends and I were looking for different kinds of business enterprises. There came about an interest for Tasti D-lite, and we saw an opportunity for its product to have a good run in the Dallas market. About the time we got involved, Tasti D-Lite was in the process of acquiring Planet Smoothie. We soon found ourselves in partnership with Planet Smoothie, as well, and became excited about introducing both brands to the North Texas area.
So that’s my transition from a nonprofit to a profit background. What I found in my journey is that customer service and taking care of people can happen at any venue. Developing leaders is essential to both churches and businesses. It’s funny that in the transition from profit to nonprofit there’s a lot to learn, but there are some big parallels. I have found a great group of people to work with.
What is attractive about the business?
Soon after becoming an area developer, we purchased the existing Planet Smoothie store in McKinney. Planet Smoothie was a new brand for us, and we quickly saw the potential the brand had for North Texas.
People are increasingly health-conscious, and they want to purchase food products that are not only healthy but great-tasting. We talk a lot about being the best-tasting smoothie on the planet. As people discover our store we are fast becoming the smoothie of choice for our community. The reviews we have in Planet Smoothie are so positive. We excel in the taste profile as well as the health profile. That is vital in the Dallas market.
Who are your big competitors?
The largest brand in our market is Smoothie King. A lesser brand would be Smoothie Factory. It has a little bit of a presence here. As the newcomer to the area, we feel a little bit like David going up against Goliath. But like David, we do pretty well against Goliath. I can’t tell you how many Smoothie King customers have been through our doors saying how much better our product is.
How do you boil down the difference between Planet Smoothie and Smoothie King?
It starts with the ingredients and the profile of the smoothie. We pride ourselves in using real fruit. We have quality ingredients, and we set ourselves apart when we sweeten our product with stevia and agave nectar. Our smoothies have less sugar, which is more desirable in our customers’ diet. Combine those quality ingredients in our Planet Smoothie recipes and we create this wonderful, tasty smoothie. Customers can also select from a strong assortment of supplements we call “blasts.” Whether they want to be burning fat or adding protein, people can give their smoothie the nutritional profile that meets their needs.
What type of franchisee are you looking to recruit?
Most franchisees have an entrepreneurial bent to them. The genius of franchising is that while you are in business for yourself, you are not in business by yourself! The ideal franchisee is someone who has the resources to invest and the vision for our kind of products. The smoothie industry has grown exponentially in the past 10 years and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. The ideal franchisee would understand what our product means to the community.
The genius of Planet Smoothie and Tasti D-lite is they are not operationally complex. For a franchisee with a background in business, the operation is relatively simple, so it doesn’t require a background in restaurant franchising. That’s one strength of the brand. Another strength is we are with you in this, and we provide the training and support that gives you the tools to be successful.
It’s going to require a commitment to working hard. Much of the success for store owners is being a part of the community and providing exceptional customer service. Our mission is simply to make every guest’s day better! When we provide a service that people want, we are able to carve out a financially profitable enterprise. Well-run stores are a joy to be a part of. What we ask from those wanting to own and run a franchise is to be a part of a successful team.
What attracts people to Planet Smoothie?
It’s a great brand with a great product. People want to be part of a really effective team and share the benefits of being in a profitable venture. To own a store that captures a healthy share of the market is an important component of the business. The stores can be structured and positioned to do well and be profitable centers.
Why buy a Planet Smoothie franchise now rather than later?
It’s always good to be at the ground floor of a franchising movement. Sometimes it’s hard to get prime territories with more established franchises. We’re excited about introducing the franchisee to a Planet Smoothie franchise. Not only is it a great brand with a great product, but it’s also a good time to invest now because we have prime territories for franchisees.
How big will Planet Smoothie become in the Dallas area?
I can envision that what has happened for us in McKinney can happen all over North Texas. We will become the smoothie of choice in every community of North Texas. That would be my vision.
Is there a secret to the smoothie industry others wouldn’t know?
It’s a way to positively impact the people in the community. In the smoothie industry you help people live a healthier life. It’s not only the refreshment we give, but our mission is to make every guest’s day better! On that mission alone we see it’s a great movement to be a part of. For some people we become just one way they are living better. For many we are a means of achieving the goals they have for their life. You can’t put dollars and cents on helping people achieve goals for health and fitness. It’s a small part of the customer experience we like to bring to the table.
How many units would you like to open in the next three years?
It takes a little time to get where we would love to be, and that is getting commitments for 20 new stores. We certainly have the potential to find that many franchisees in the territory. We are just beginning to get that opportunity out there to people who are interested. Whether franchisees are interested in opening just one store or whether they have the vision to be a multi-unit franchisee, we are marketing great territories for franchise development.
Take an in-depth look at the franchise opportunity
To take an in-depth look at Planet Smoothie’s operations, startup costs and business model, check out our research pages. For the most comprehensive look at the franchise opportunity, fill out a form to download our free franchise report and start a conversation. We look forward to talking with you!