When Franchise Zone first spoke with Greg Murray six months ago, he and his wife, Deb, thought they had seen the light at the end of the tunnel. After nearly a year of searching and investigating, the couple had found the perfect Boston-area locations for their first Smoothie King franchise.
But the three locations the Murrays were most excited about had long waiting lists, some up to three years. Instead of giving up on their Smoothie King franchise, the couple gave up on Boston. "We were just knocking ourselves silly, so we had to make a decision--do we sit on this for, possibly, a couple of years or make a move?" says Greg, 42. "We decided to make a move."
Greg's parents live in Naples, Florida, an area already familiar with the Smoothie King concept, so he and Deb decided to take advantage of the family connections and brand awareness and open shop in Florida.
Early this spring, Deb, also 42, traveled down to Naples to scout locations. She found the ideal spot in a Target shopping center, Smoothie King approved it and the Murrays had their store. The location, which will both serve smoothies and sell vitamins and nutritional supplements, is currently under construction and should be open for business in the middle of September.
When the store opens, Deb will take a hands-on management role. Greg operates a medical equipment company, a business that diverts some of his time from Smoothie King but also helped his family stay afloat during the past year. "That really allowed us to make this jump," he says. "We're not coming down [to Florida] without an income, so it may seem ambitious, but we've thought it through pretty well."
Though the move to Florida somewhat alters the Murrays' original Smoothie King plans, they still intend on opening five or more stores just like they hoped to in Boston. The couple is also still interested in opening an airport Smoothie King location, an idea that got put on hold after September 11. "We've been in contact with Southwest Regional, in the Fort Myers airport, and they're building a new terminal as we speak," Greg says. "We fully intend to press hard on that, and I hope that would be a next step."
Another step for the Murrays is to bring Smoothie King to Naples-area schools. "Some people in the system have had pretty good success with doing nutritional programs for schools, where they come in on Friday and do a smoothie day," Greg says. "We're going to try to get into the school systems down here and be contractors for the schools."
While the Murrays couldn't get their Boston Smoothie King off the ground, the couple remains confident the franchise can succeed in the Bay State. "If we get hold of this market, we could do very well," says Greg, "but it's going to take some time to establish the name and to really build the market."