Paul McCulloch and his wife Paula own 11 Smoothie King locations, soon to be 14, throughout the greater Nashville, TN area as well as the surrounding communities. He shares his thoughts regarding what you should consider prior to buying a franchise and how to be successful in franchising as well as what his experience has been like with Franchise Business Review.
What advice would you share with people considering purchasing a franchise? Decide if you are looking for a job or looking to build a business. I also think it’s a good idea to take a personality test, which can uncover a lot about your strengths and weaknesses that you may not have known. Most importantly, be sure to join an industry you truly enjoy. We were attracted to Smoothie King because of the health benefits it offers and because every smoothie has a purpose. Once you buy a franchise, work hard to identify the right location and hire great people who will treat employees and customers right.
What traits do you think franchisees should have in order to be successful? You need to be well-rounded – a Jack or Jane of all trades. Although you may be a sensible business professional, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are a people person. Make sure you can communicate clearly, manage a team, and listen to your employees. An array of problems will always arise and you’ll need to be able to conquer them while dealing with day-to-day operations.
What type of business experience did you gain prior to becoming a franchisee that you have found particularly helpful when it comes to successfully running your franchise? My financial and real estate background helped us to succeed in growing with Smoothie King. I have always been involved with banks and started as a national bank examiner, so I knew the system. My father was in real estate so I have the skills to negotiate deals and find the perfect location for a small business.
Why did you decide to go into franchising? I did not want to go in and start a business from the ground up. I knew that becoming a franchisee in a proven system was the avenue for me.
What is it that you like best about owning your franchise? From a business perspective, I like that we have a cash business with no receivables to collect and a proven formula to follow that has been perfected over many years. From a personal perspective, I like the product we sell and take pride in the fact that it helps people.
What is your work/life balance? It is really good. We have great teams at all of our locations, so I am able to step away and have confidence that the stores are running smoothly.
What was it about the Smoothie King franchise model that led you to purchase it? Our son, who played football in Brentwood (Tennessee), raved about Smoothie King and said, “Dad, you should open one of these.” After I conducted my own research, I felt that Smoothie King was going in the direction where the rest of the country was headed in terms of living a healthy lifestyle. I appreciate the overall simplicity of the operation, the low inventory, and low food waste. The Smoothie King business model and concept allowed me to grow my business and be an operator and owner of multiple locations.
When did you purchase your franchise? We signed the franchise contract in 2005. While we were building our Brentwood location, I approached the franchisee who owned the Franklin & Green Hills locations and purchased those stores as well.
How did you fund your franchise? I used a combination of my own money and banking resources in the area, which allowed us to pay for royalties, franchise fees, and other expenses.
What are you doing to keep your locations competitive? We are in constant communication with each and every one of our managers and know that social media is a great marketing platform. We have created our own Facebook and Twitter pages and actively post on them. I have pioneered a partnership with Smoothie King and TL Connects, a text marketing platform, to ensure we are able to communicate with our guests in the channels they request.
Would you share your 2015 gross revenue figures and what you project your gross revenue will be in 2016? My gross sales revenue in 2015 was just over $3.4 million for nine stores (one opened mid-year and another opened at the end of the year). We currently have 11 stores open (one just opened May 1st) and revenue was already over $2.2 million at the end of May. We expect to open three more stores this year to finish the year with 14 stores and gross sales revenue in excess of $5.5 million. We are anticipating at least a 62 percent sales increase for our organization over 2015.
What is the most challenging aspect of being a franchisee? As a franchisee, I get the benefit of having a proven business model to follow. On the other hand, this means that I am not always able to execute every idea that comes to my mind. Luckily, the Smoothie King corporate team is ready and willing to listen to my ideas and create a solution together.
What kind of support did you most appreciate from your franchisor when you started and what do you most appreciate now? When we started the business, we had no idea what to do and the franchisor’s support was needed and appreciated. Now I appreciate that the franchisor is continuing to reinvest into building the brand and improving our products, which translates down to the unit level.
What kind of support did you get from fellow franchisees? The Smoothie King franchise community has always been eager to share knowledge and support each other. We have borrowed blenders and product when we had to and asked questions from those more experienced than us. I’ve been able to draw on others’ experience and implement ideas that work into my business.
If you had the option of turning back time, would you choose to open your franchise again? I am happy I chose Smoothie King and would do it again – this business has been both professionally and personally rewarding. We have built a nice recurring revenue stream and are part of a good organization that supports our continued growth.
To learn more about Smoothie King click here.
If you are interested in learning what it takes to invest in a franchise and how to do so wisely, take a look at FBR’s Franchise Buyer’s Toolkit. To see more franchises that are ranked highly by their franchisees click here.