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Smooth Operators: How These Franchisees Found Success With Smoothie King Intrigued by the idea of a healthy, tasty snack, two smoothie lovers in Alabama are running a sweet trio of Smoothie King stores.

By Carly Okyle

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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

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.

Image credit: Essence Phenix

Name: Charles & Essence Phenix

Franchise owned: Smoothie King (Montgomery, Prattville, Tuscaloosa, Ala.)

How long have you owned a franchise?

Eight years

Related: How This Franchisee Runs More Than 275 Restaurants

Why franchising?

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

Related: Why This Father-and-Sons Trio Joined the PizzaRev Franchise

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
Carly Okyle

Assistant Editor, Contributed Content

Carly Okyle is an assistant editor for contributed content at

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