What do you get when you combine a healthy, flavorful meal in a cup with on-the go convenience? The answer is the smoothie. This meal substitute contains any number of ingredients including fruits, vegetables, juice, yogurt or any kind of milk (low-fat, soy, coconut). Over the years its evolution has brought about new ingredients, blending in the latest “good-for-you” food trends, like kale, spinach and acai to name a few. Not surprisingly, because of the emphasis placed on healthy lifestyles, Americans are the biggest consumers of smoothies in the world. A fact credited to the desire to eat healthier but make it quick! If you are looking to be a part of this trend, here’s a guide to how to start a smoothie business.
The starting point for any business is researching benefits and profitability. In a report from Grand View Research, the fruit and vegetable juice market is expected to hit $257 billion by 2025. Here in the United States alone, smoothie bars are a 3 billion dollar industry. From an investment stand point, industry experts estimate start-up costs for you to own a smoothie business will run between $20,000-$400,000. However, you stand to make about $600,000 in gross revenue annually. There are many other costs to consider like equipment/supplies, labor, licensing, location/rent and marketing/advertising. All necessary line items to budget prior to you opening your doors.
Before those doors open and that cash register rings, you’ve got to take your vision for your smoothie business, and get organized. That’s how a solid business plan will guide you. This is essentially your road map. For example, you need to decide what your product is. Will you just sell smoothies or juices and bowls too? You will explain the purpose of your smoothie bar and how you plan to make it a success. You will outline the financials and look at your overhead costs and projected profits. It will also include how you will pay for this business; whether through investors, financing or cash.
How you structure your company is important because Uncle Sam needs to know how this smoothie bar intends to collect and report taxes. Choosing a legal structure is necessary when it comes to your salary, and your personal liability. The most popular structure is the LLC or Limited Liability company. It protects your personal finances in case of business failure.
It’s important to do some research to find out which licenses and permits you need to have before you open your start-up. Some may include a general business license, building and zoning permits, sales and tax number, and employer identification number (EIN). Whether or not you have a business manager assisting you with this paperwork, you can always reference the U.S. Small Business Administration website for information on business start-ups.
The SBA can also help you choose the right business insurance. The federal government requires every business with employees to have workers’ compensation, unemployment, and disability insurance. You may need additional insurance coverage depending on state regulations.
With some of the paperwork out of the way, now comes the fun part…choosing a location for your smoothie business. This will be one of your largest monthly expenditures whether you lease space or build from scratch. First, decide where you want to be. Some smoothie businesses work out deals with gyms, spas or wellness businesses to rent or share a space. That places your smoothie business right where your target audience is. Another option is choosing shopping malls or strip centers where people will clearly see your brand. You don’t want your competition too close so scout the area carefully. Be sure there is plenty of parking available for customers. If you are thinking of making your business a drive-through, calculate that space into the equation.
Another option to consider is scaling down from a brick-and-mortar smoothie business to a mall or airport kiosk. With food trucks still trending, making your business mobile could cut down on overhead expenses. You just need permission parking it in high traffic areas to serve your customers.
Once you’ve decided where your smoothie business will reside you will need to decide how it will look. Everything matters when it comes to design. Of course, it needs to be functional but also appealing to customers. Lively colors and furnishings create a pleasant space.
From a practical stand point this is a food service which needs an efficient kitchen. Design steps need to be effective with plumbing, electricity, and sanitation codes.
Now that you’ve built your space, it must be equipped. Your “to-do” list should include items like: blenders, coolers, refrigerators, prep tools, knives, cutting boards, sinks, storage shelves, storage containers, to-go cups, straws, napkins, utensils and don’t forget the cash register!
As you get closer to the grand opening, it’s time to stock the fridge. Purchase fruits and vegetables from local sources who will deliver, if possible. Food storage for a fresh food business is tricky. You can only order a quantity that can fit in your refrigeration space, and it won’t last long. Experts advise that this will be a balancing act for the first few months as you determine inventory. Food wasted is profit wasted.
Building a Menu
A successful smoothie business only needs a few basic ingredients, and then you can build from there. For example, you need to provide base flavors in one or two sizes to keep the options simple for customers. Then, provide add-on options to customize the drink. Berries, bananas, and proteins are all trending right now. Customers like options because their consumption could be for any number of reasons. They may have dietary restrictions, they may be on a vegan or vegetarian diet, they may be trying to lose weight, or they may want protein boosts or ingredients that help the immune system, like kale or spinach.
Set prices for base smoothies and provide customizable additions with a la carte pricing. Add inventory, rent, overhead and labor to determine how high a profit margin you will need then price your smoothies accordingly.
When you hire employees they will need to be properly trained about how to prepare smoothies, how to deal with customers and how to handle payment.
Selling your brand is an important step in how to start a smoothie business. Promoting your grand opening with movers and shakers from the community is so important to starting off on the right foot. On-going brand recognition will be an important component to customer retention. Making sure all aspects of digital marketing is handled from Google search engine optimization to creating and maintaining a website, and one or more social media platforms like Instagram. When you create your logo, you need to make sure it can be used digitally and on merchandise. Marketing needs to show off what makes you unique which trickles down to more customers and bigger profits.
This may seem overwhelming to take care of all these points in order to create your smoothie business. However, another very lucrative option would be to follow a proven business model and become a smoothie business franchisee. Instead of learning all these steps and implementing them, you could instead enjoy that same entrepreneurial spirit while becoming part of the SoBol family. We make healthy and delicious bowls and smoothies. Our franchise model takes care of all these steps and more while providing training and support to our franchisees.
If you are ready to be part of our successful brand, fill out this form and let’s get started.