The pandemic inspired diners to seek experiences that helped them escape from the norms of everyday life. For evidence of that, look no further than Bahama Buck’s, the nation’s number one tropical frozen dessert franchise, which posted a staggering 21 percent AUV growth in 2020.
Founded in 1990 by Texas Tech University student Blake Buchanan, Bahama Buck’s strives to serve “The Greatest Sno on Earth,” and give its guests a tropical, vacation-like escape. Thirty years and 105 locations later, that has proven to be a robust business model and one that gained a ton of momentum in 2020, with 50 percent of its units seeing record sales figures and EBITDA growing over 22%.
“A lot of people think we’re in the ‘Sno’ business, but we’re really in the people business,” Buchanan says. “We do everything we can to create a ‘Mini-Vacation’ for our guests. Not everyone can spend $4,000 to go to Disney World, but they can usually spend $4 to come to Bahama Buck’s and enjoy our relaxed island vibe.”
Innovation is in the brand’s DNA, says CFO Eric Lee, pointing to two home-run LTOs that were launched in 2020, including a Gummi Bear Sno topped with Albanese Gummi Bears. The other was a collaboration with Bomb Pop, with one of their iconic popsicles inserted into Bomb Pop-flavored Sno. Those LTOs were yet another reason Bahama Buck’s was a destination for so many during such a tough year.
While shaved ice and frozen desserts remain the key products for Bahama Buck’s, the brand also launched a healthy smoothie line in 2020 made with nonfat greek yogurt and no high-fructose corn syrup, ensuring there are options for any type of guest that is looking for that island experience. Bahama Buck’s also offers a wide array of fruit cups, Frostalattés, and specialty Bahama Sodas.
The company’s innovation is not limited to menu items either, as the brand has invested in technology that has helped keep it on the cutting edge of the industry.
“COVID-19 created this culture of uncertainty, and Bahama Buck’s positioned itself as a place of restoration,” Buchanan says. “We have always strived to ‘Bless our Guests.’ We want them to be able to come here and forget about whatever else is going on and just escape for a moment. And the pivot we made to online ordering, grab-and-go products, catering, and other enhanced drive-thru service models only helped us expand that safe and enjoyable experience for our loyal guests.”
To help meet a goal of 200 units by 2025, Bahama Buck’s is looking for franchisees who share their core values. According to Buchanan, a successful Bahama Buck’s franchisee is usually a family-oriented person who is embedded in the community and wants to “bless guests’’ with an experience they can’t find elsewhere.
“First and foremost, our franchisees tend to be kind people,” Buchanan says. “We’re in the service industry and you have to have the heart to lead with kindness. The second thing is our franchisees tend to be really hard working. At Bahama Buck’s, we’re throwing a gigantic party every day. It takes a hard-working host to do something amazing like that.”
If you’re ready to throw parties full time, visit bahamabucks.com/franchise.