Mike Weinberger, CEO of Maui Wowi Hawaiian, began his professional career working as an attorney, but quickly realized franchise was his niche and made the move to the industry in 2008. After a few years of business consulting, he joined Maui Wowi Hawaiian first as Director of Real Estate and then as Vice President of Operations. In his three years with the company, Weinberger has become a pivotal part of the Maui Wowi Hawaiian team and plans to continue the steady growth and success into the new year.
Franchise Chatter (FC): What sets Maui Wowi Hawaiian apart from other smoothie franchises?
Mike Weinberger (MW): The simplicity of the Maui Wowi Hawaiian franchise is what sets it apart from other smoothie franchises. Our smoothies are made using only the highest quality ingredients. Customers can expect to receive a consistent product along with a friendly experience every time they visit a Maui Wowi location or event cart.
FC: Aside from smoothies, you also sell Hawaiian coffee. What is the sales mix like for a typical Maui Wowi location?
MW: Our smoothies have long been our staple product and account for a large portion of sales at our Maui Wowi locations. However, our line of Hawaiian coffees has continued to grow in popularity and remains an integral menu item for our brand. Our dual concept offers customers a choice and allows our franchisees an opportunity to appeal to a larger audience.
FC: Can you tell us about your recently announced partnership with Popchips? What made you decide to join forces?
MW: Popchips and Maui Wowi are like-minded companies that share many similarities and we are excited to establish our recent partnership. Both of our products are gluten-free and provide customers with a great snack and beverage alternative to traditional fast food items. Popchips participates in many community events across the country, as do our Maui Wowi franchisees; making them the perfect wingman.
FC: What are your plans for the launch of the partnership?
MW: To announce our partnership, we teamed up with Popchips to launch an interactive online contest called “Pick your Perfect Pair.” The contest asked fans to choose from three smoothie/popchip flavor options and to come up with a creative name for the combo. The winner of the contest will be announced on Facebook and will receive a prize package that includes merchandise from both companies with items such as Maui Wowi coffee, souvenir Maui Wowi tiki cups, T-Shirts, and of course bags of Popchips!
FC: Can you describe the ideal location for a Maui Wowi franchise?
MW: The flexibility of Maui Wowi provides our franchisees with many options and possibilities from which to locate their business. Many franchisees have found success in mall locations with a kiosk or retail store. In addition, drive-thru locations, strip-malls, or a stand-alone can all prove to be successful locations depending on their ability to meet our detailed criteria. Event operators have found many ideal temporary and contract locations for their mobile Ka’anapali cart such as large arenas and coliseums to farmers markets and youth sporting events.
FC: What are the key success factors to running a profitable smoothie franchise?
MW: Managing inventory and relationships, hard work, and the Aloha Spirit!
FC: What are your growth plans for the franchise in the coming year?
MW: Continued growth in 2014! Finding the right individuals to join our Maui Wowi Ohana and help them reach their entrepreneurial dreams is our priority. We plan to add 20% more franchisees to our quickly growing system. We also plan to open an additional 15 new retail locations.