This article was originally published on July 15, 2014.
When Sanden Andrews began looking into buying a franchise, one brand from her childhood stuck out: Smoothie King. The former gymnast knew that, if she was going to become a franchisee, she had to love the product. Plus, the ease of operation, with no cooking or baking required, made Smoothie King a great first franchise. Today, Andrews owns four Smoothie King locations and is eager to keep growing the business. Here's what she's learned as a multi-unit franchisee.
Name: Sanden Andrews, multi-unit franchisee, Smoothie King
Franchise owned: Smoothie King, with four locations in Metro Atlanta and growing
How long have you owned a franchise?
My husband was a franchisee with several other brands and we wanted to expand our horizons, so we started talking about me owning my own business. He encouraged me to look into franchising.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I was an escrow officer in California, which was one of the first regions hit when the economy plummeted. Our county and the county north of us were hit the hardest, so my employer had to start cutting back. I knew that in a few months I was going to be moving on to do different things like owning my own business, so I made the decision to leave my job so someone else wouldn’t have to be laid off. I didn’t want another family to have to worry about money.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
Having grown up in Houston, I knew Smoothie King very well and was already a big fan of the brand. I had been a competitive gymnast -- an Olympic hopeful! -- and was a frequent Smoothie King customer. My husband didn’t know Smoothie King and wasn’t certain owning a smoothie franchise was the right fit. But, for me, I knew if I was going to own my own business this was the only brand I wanted to be a part of. I took him to a Smoothie King and after his first taste, he was all in. Additionally, once I realized how easy it would be for me to run my own Smoothie King -- there’s no cooking or frying involved -- I knew it was the perfect business opportunity.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
The first store I opened cost $235,000. That included all new equipment, the build out and contractors’ fees.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I was already so passionate about Smoothie King, so when I decided to open my own business, I didn’t have to do much research. I have found it incredibly helpful to speak with other Smoothie King franchisees to get advice and see how they have accomplished their goals. They are always willing to answer any questions I have. Additionally, the Smoothie King corporate team was instrumental in answering any questions I had leading up to me signing my area development agreement and I received immense support with the opening of my first store.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
The biggest challenge in opening my first location was not having any prior experience and having to sit back and watch. With any business, it can be overwhelming at first as you start to learn what vendors you need to use and how much inventory to order with no prior customer traffic to refer to. It was a challenge for me not to help in the beginning since I’m a very hands-on person, but as time passed, I started working as if I was the team member, so I could learn what I would be teaching. I like to fully understand everything I am doing; it’s the best way to understand all that is going on. I try to ask as many questions as I can even if I already know what I might do. As I open each new store, it’s easier because I fully understand how the store operates.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Love what you do and learn everything about what you’re doing.
Do you have any advice for people who want to be multi-unit franchisees?
Understand your business and have great procedures in place. I was once asked by a franchisor, “How many franchises do you think a franchisee can have?” My reply was, “How many franchises can one franchisor have? As long and you have the proper procedures in place, there are no limits.”
What’s next for you and your business?
I have an area development agreement (ADA) with Smoothie King to open more stores and I was recently asked to expand that ADA for my territory. I am trying to buy a few more stores to expand my business, as well. Overall, Smoothie King has aggressive growth plans -- primarily through multi-unit franchisees -- in communities across the U.S. Support for multi-unit franchisees continues to get better and better and the company has several attractive incentives in place to encourage multi-unit growth. I am excited about what’s to come for both me and the brand.
Why have you continued to open multiple locations with Smoothie King as opposed to having a single unit or expanding your portfolio to another brand?
At one point, we were going to go a different route and open stores with other brands, but I love what I do. It was a decision we made to stay within the brand and expand. I’m very competitive. I want to be the best of the best. I want successful stores and to give back to these communities. I feel I can give back more owning something that I have a great passion for than to find something else that I’m not certain I will enjoy as much.