Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Essence Phenix loved having smoothies as a kid, and when she grew up, she and her husband Charles turned to blended fruits and veggies as a way to stay healthy. Following the advice that people should do what they love, the couple became Smoothie King franchisees eight years ago. They have passion for what they do and vision for where they’re headed -- vital ingredients in the recipe for business success. Read on to hear more about their experience.
Name: Charles & Essence Phenix
Franchise owned: Smoothie King (Montgomery, Prattville, Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
How long have you owned a franchise?
Charles and I decided to franchise because we did not want to reinvent the wheel. Franchising allows you the opportunity to invest into a proven system. Smoothie King has been around for more than 40 years and already has brand recognition. We didn’t have to come up with a store design, logo or recipes. Joining a franchise system also means that you will have ongoing support from the corporate staff.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
Charles is a full-time active duty major in the U. S. Army. I was a full-time speech language pathologist prior to becoming a franchisee.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
I remembered drinking Smoothie King smoothies growing up in New Orleans. At home, Charles and I started a health quest and began blending our own fruit smoothies as an alternative to cookies, brownies and ice cream. The company’s health aspects aligned nicely to what we were already interested in – a sweet treat that is good for you!
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
Initial Franchise Free: $20,000
Three Month's Rental Deposit: $6,000
Technology Systems: $11,500
Grand Opening Marketing: $2,500
Travel and Training Expenses: $2,700
Insurance (First Year's Premium): $1,500
Other Prepaid Expenses: $1,000
Start-up supplies, inventory: $7,000
Equipment, Millwork, Fixtures/Signage and Graphics: $57,350
Leasehold Improvements: $50,250
Legal, Accounting & Organizational Costs: $500
Miscellaneous Costs: $1,000
Additional Funds - 3 Months: $15,000
Total = $176,300
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
We asked questions to people we knew who were already doing business. We also hired a lawyer and an accountant who were instrumental in helping us get started. Lastly, once we signed our franchise agreement, the Smoothie King corporate staff immediately stepped in to assist where needed.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Gathering data for the financial forecast for our business plan and selecting a general contractor were both challenges that we had to deal with.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Have a vision and plan for your business. Before you even get started, determine why you want to be in business, because on the rough days you’ll need to remind yourself why you started down this path in the first place. Lastly, determine how you can use your influence in business to do something bigger than yourself.
What’s next for you and your business?
We plan to continue to grow our current locations to their maximum potential, as well as save for the construction of our next Smoothie King drive-thru location. Our family vision also includes acquiring real estate.Related: How This Multi-Tasking Franchisee Manages Careers in Real Estate, Food and Law