Company: Tropical Smoothie Area Development Corp.
Years in current position: 10
Years in franchising: 10
Units by brand: 22 Tropical Smoothie Café
Family: Wife Susan, 3-year-old daughter Skyler
•Opened 4 franchise locations in just three years (my own stores).
•Awarded the rights to be an area developer in my second year as a franchisee.
• Won Franchisee of the Year once and Area Developer of the Year twice.
• Worked on several committees assembled by the corporate office to help
design operational changes that have been implemented system-wide.
•Part of the committee assembled to work with Management 2000 on
completely restructuring our franchisee selection process, which now allows
us to select the best possible candidates to become new franchisees.
Biggest mistake: Listened to a franchisee explain why they felt like a location
would do well in a place that we didn’t think it would, and then allowed them
to open it.
Smartest mistake: Allowing that franchisee to open in that location, which then
proved to be a lower-performing store, finalized the decision for us to bring on
professional services that now do all of our site evaluations. This has resulted
in our having one of the best and most complex tactics for finding good areas
within a city, and then strategically deciding on which location will provide the
lowest risk for our franchisees.
How do you spend a day, typically? Each morning I get up early and work
out at the gym. After that, I return to my office and return emails and make a
list of what I need to accomplish that day as a result of the feedback I received
overnight. I typically spend 2 to 4 hours each day on the phone or corresponding
by email with franchisees, vendors, or our corporate office to follow up with
any concerns or issues we may be dealing with. The rest of the day is spent
working on day-to-day projects that either our corporate office has requested,
or projects I may be working on to help improve the day-to-day operations of
Work week: Along with the daily routines that take up about 80 to 90 percent
of my time, I also do store visits, monthly evaluations of each franchise location,
and put together quarterly group meetings with all the owners. These things
not only help us to maintain consistency within the brand, they also allow me
to have two-way communication with the owners, see what they are noticing
on the front line, and help them implement new policies and procedures to run
more efficiently and be more profitable.
Favorite fun activities: Flying airplanes. I’ve been a pilot for 4 years.
Exercise/workout: I work out 5 days a week.
Favorite stuff/tech toys: I am an electronic gadget freak. If it lights up, moves,
and makes noise I gotta have it.
What are you reading? I mostly read business books. My favorite two (which
I continually go back to and use as reference guides) are The Ultimate Question
by Fred Reichheld and The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding by Al and Laura Ries.
I am currently reading Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is
Priceless by Jeffrey Gitomer.
Do you have a favorite quote or advice you
give? Our motto for Tropical Smoothie, which is
integrated into our culture and franchisees from the day they first meet with
us as a prospect is this: “What are we paid for? We are paid to create experiences
that result in 3 things: VERY satisfied and loyal customers; who will come back
often; and will recommend us to others.” It is the basis of everything we do,
and how well we do it determines our level of success as a franchise.
Best advice you ever got: “People will never live up to your level of expectations,
only your level of acceptance.”
Formative influences/events: I joined the U.S. Air Force immediately after high
school and spent a tour in Desert Storm. Not only did it give me a huge appreciation
for being an American, it also made me realize that nowhere else on this earth
can a person wake up in the morning and say, “I want to start my own business
and control my own destiny” and then actually take the steps to do it.
How do you balance life and work? To be honest, it can be difficult at times.
With all the email, voicemail, and cell phones it is too easy to stay connected
to work even when you’re at the movies or on vacation. I try to spend time
with my family weekends and evenings. If I do find myself going into my home
office to do some work I try to do it after everyone is asleep.
Business philosophy: Business has always been, and always will be, about
taking risks. Some are small and some are big, but that idea is what drives an
entrepreneur to succeed; call it survival. My second favorite quote—and I keep
a copy on my desk with the very first dollar I made in this business over 10
years ago stapled to it—is from Theodore Roosevelt: “Far better is it to dare
mighty things, even though chequered by failure, than to dwell in that perpetual
twilight that knows not victory or defeat.”
Are you in the franchising, real estate, or customer service business? The
customer service business, but I actually hate that phrase. I am in the Customer
Experience business. My customer is not only the person who walks up to our
counters, but also my franchisees. We have to inspire our franchisees to want
to take the tools we provide them and be successful operators just as much
as we have to inspire our customers to want to come back again and tell their
friends about us.
What gets you out of bed in the morning? Either my alarm clock or our 3-
year-old’s foot stuck under my rib cage.
What’s your passion in business? To see other franchisees who share the
same excitement I do about succeeding. It’s like being on a great football team.
Everyone feeds off each other’s excitement, which makes everyone more
passionate about what they are doing.
Greatest challenge: Trying to work with an unmotivated franchisee. I am a believer
that you cannot motivate anyone. You can only give the tools to a motivated
individual who can then use them to succeed in their goals. It is tough to work
with a person who is like a sloth hanging out on a limb.
How close are you to operations? Because I still own a couple of stores, I
am still very much in the front lines. I don’t work behind the register anymore,
but when I do I get really excited because if you are excited, you get your staff
fired up, and it creates a great experience for the customer. We often forget
that our attitudes are contagious.
How do others describe you? They would probably say I am very organized,
like things done now, and love talking.
How do you hire and fire? If I ever fire someone and they are surprised, then
I was a horrible communicator. I believe it is important to set specific expectations