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Divide and Conquer
Another piece of advice she would have for potential franchisees is to surround yourself with the best support people who have varying skills. If it’s a partnership, like the one she has with her spouse, divide the work based on strengths, she said. For example, her husband spends much of his time in the cafes, working directly with employees and executing many management functions, while she handles things like marketing, community outreach, and overlooks the financial and accounting side of the business.
“That’s been very successful for us,” she said. “We’ve been able to divide and conquer.”
Shriver said Tropical Smoothie Cafe provides comprehensive training for new franchisees. In addition to actually working at an existing Tropical Smoothie Cafe to learn operations, she also had classroom-style training at the corporate headquarters to learn about the brand, the point-of-sale system, inventory, human resources training for hiring, and setting up an accounting system. She said the company also makes high-quality videos available to franchisees for further information.
“I found it very valuable for increasing the enthusiasm for the brand,” Shriver said of her indoctrination. “You walked away very energized to get going.”
Marketing support from the corporate office is also plentiful, she said. The company provides all the creative materials for special promotions and other types of advertising, she said. It also conducts a webinar prior to the introduction of a new promotion, covering everything from the materials available to where a franchisee should place certain things like banners, window clings, and point-of-sale materials for maximum benefit to close a sale.
Community Outreach is Crucial
In addition to advertising, community outreach is important for landing new customers and retaining current ones, she said. The Shrivers are very passionate about education and use their business to help the cause in their community.
“We do a lot with our local schools,” she said. “Education is really important to us.”
Her Tropical Smoothie outlets will serve certain elementary schools by delivering smoothies to the school at lunchtime. They are delivered at cost (about half price) and the schools sell them at full price and keep the profit as a fundraiser. Or the franchisees will invite select schools to hold a fundraiser at one of their stores and donate a percentage of sales during a certain period of time to help the school raise money.
One of the more creative marketing ideas involves getting children to read. They issue a bookmark from Tropical Smoothie and ask students to read five books, which their teachers track by punching the bookmark. Once the children have read the required number of books, they can bring their bookmark to one of the Shrivers’ stores for a free smoothie.