The fast-casual café concept has opened 43 new locations in 2020, with 35 opening since March 1. In addition, the company has signed 103 new franchise agreements this year, of which, 67% are with existing franchisees. Franchise agreements and cafe openings targeted growth in 25 states.
With many franchise concepts having to pivot their business models to align with the recent events and related economic shift, Tropical Smoothie Café said it went above and beyond to commit to its franchisees, team members, and guests by implementing systemwide initiatives. Most notably, the company restructured its franchise development team to provide needed best practices and support to guide franchisees through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding process and its real estate team shifted priorities to assist franchisees as they negotiated rent deferrals and abatements.
Tropical Smoothie Cafe franchisees secured more than $29 million in PPP funds for small business owners across the system and achieved $1.8 million in rent relief for approximately 250 cafes. Additionally, the brand implemented hyper-local marketing initiatives, enhanced order modes to include curbside and delivery options, and offered a 50% royalty relief reduction for eight weeks to further support franchisees.
"As we reflect on the past few months, we're incredibly humbled by the momentum we've accomplished during one of the most challenging periods our industry has ever experienced," said Charles Watson, CEO of Tropical Smoothie Café. “Keeping our culture and franchisees top priority, we quickly mobilized to ensure our franchisees felt supported and were equipped with the right guidance and tools to successfully navigate through this unprecedented time.”
In addition to marketing and financial support, Tropical Smoothie Cafe participated in the nationwide "#InThisTogether" campaign, and encouraged franchisees to support local essential workers and first responders by donating smoothies to local hospitals, schools, police stations, fire rescue stations, and more. Collectively, the brand donated more than 210,000 smoothies nationwide and $100,000 to the American Nurses Foundation.
Tropical Smoothie Café said it currently boasts an average unit volume of more than $768,000 — the highest in the company's 22-year-history — with the top 50% reporting an AUV of more than $982,000.