Smoothie King—a leading health and fitness-focused U.S. smoothie franchise with 1,195 global locations —announced it has maintained a steady development pace since the start of the year, opening 31 new domestic locations and 119 international locations while also signing 38 U.S. franchise agreements. The brand expects to open a total of 80 new U.S. locations by the end of 2020.
“Our franchise system continues to grow because of our brand’s mission and vision and how we help our franchisees fulfil those promises,” says Smoothie King CEO Wan Kim. “As a result, we’re seeing more likeminded owners invest in our purpose-driven brand. Guests are going to be prioritizing their health and wellness even more going forward, and we fulfil those needs unlike any other concept.”
Following the throes of the pandemic, Smoothie King is rebounding at an impressive rate, experiencing a 14-percent systemwide sales jump year-over-year for July. This includes the brand’s 400-plus drive-thru locations, which are averaging a 26-percent increase for the month versus 2019 sales data.
Similarly, in June, Smoothie King’s franchisee in Greenwood, Ind., set an opening-week sales record at their new location—recording $45,759 in total sales.
“The momentum we gained during the pandemic by focusing on our guests’ needs has set us up for an exciting and dynamic year in terms of both sales and store growth,” said Kim. “I can’t wait to see what our franchise owners accomplish in the second half of 2020.”
As Kim alluded to, Smoothie King has introduced several guest-focused initiatives since the beginning of the pandemic to meet the convenience and safety needs of guests.
In February 2020, Smoothie King began rolling out its digital initiatives. The first step was launching online ordering for in-store pickup on its Healthy Rewards loyalty app and webpage. The brand then launched curbside pickup in early April and announced an exclusive delivery partnership with DoorDash in early May to make living a healthy and active lifestyle more convenient while expanding the brand’s reach.
“We were pleased that our digital rollout happened as quickly as it did,” says Kim. “After we introduced online ordering, curbside pickup and delivery, digital sales surged well past our expectations. Moving forward, these initiatives will only continue to help both our company and our franchisees capitalize on shifting guest trends.”
Smoothie King also: introduced a new Immune Builder smoothie flavor; allowed Healthy Rewards members to add a complimentary immune support enhancer to any order; successfully donated $1,000,000 in smoothies to essential workers and workplaces nationwide; and is working with Under Armour to provide premium fitness content to loyalty guests.
To continue prioritizing the safety of its guests and team members, Smoothie King has announced beginning August 5 facial coverings will be encouraged when visiting all U.S. locations. They will not be required when ordering at the drive-thru, when using curbside pick-up or placing an order for delivery.
The attraction to Smoothie King’s franchise opportunity is also due to the comprehensive support franchisees receive—which has been on full display since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To support its franchise owners during the pandemic, Smoothie King deferred all royalty payments and technology fees and completely waived national advertising for March and April. Consequently, Smoothie King franchisees were able to retain 100% of their cashflow to operate their businesses during the hardest months of the pandemic so far.
“Our franchisees are family, and we understand how hard this time has been for them and their families,” Kim adds. “We wanted to show them how much we appreciate their efforts over the last couple months as they continued to help inspire guests to live healthy and active lifestyles. Without our dedicated franchisees, we cannot live out our mission and vision."
The Smoothie King development team has also worked diligently to support franchisees as they negotiated with their landlords to alleviate their monthly rent obligations by either deferring payments or forgiving them altogether.
Other franchisee-support tactics Smoothie King has implemented during the current pandemic include holding weekly franchisee webinars covering topics like applying for PPP loans, developing a COVID response plan and marketing promotions to encourage online ordering and drive sales.
These purpose-driven efforts, from both a guest and franchisee perspective, have and continue to translate into growth for the brand.
This year, Smoothie King has added new locations in markets like New Orleans, Washington D.C., San Antonio, Tucson, Baton Rouge and Louisville. A total of 15 stores began blending in Q1, another 11 opened in Q2 and five opened in July.
Additionally, the 38 signed-and-accepted franchise agreements are projected to produce 41 future locations. This is the result of 26 existing owners reinvesting in the brand and 12 new franchisees joining the system in 2020.
“Joining Smoothie King is as much a commitment to our brand as it is to our business, and we believe our actions over the last couple months will only continue to attract the kind of owners we’re looking for,” says Kim.
Smoothie King Korea also opened 119 new stores during the first seven months of 2020. These were predominantly a new-store format opened in EMart24 convenience stores.
“We are excited for this new store format in Korea and look forward to getting Smoothie King to more convenient locations throughout Korea,” said Kim. “We expect to see additional store growth in Korea through the balance of the year.”
Currently, Smoothie King has 1,195 units open-and-operating across the world, with 973 domestic locations and 222 international stores. Over the next five months, the company is aiming for continued development in the following markets: Baltimore, Birmingham, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Oklahoma City and Phoenix.