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Tropical Smoothie Cafe Franchise CEO Pivotal in Brand’s Revitalization and Success

Mike HeadshotMike Rotondo, Tropical Smoothie Cafe CEO, joined the brand as Vice President in 2008. At the time, the chain’s $400K average unit volume (AUV) wasn’t stellar, but he saw promise.

“People loved the brand, Franchise Owners were joining because they loved the brand and loved the product, but we didn’t have all the systems in place and the team in place to really make it a scalable, much more financially rewarding concept,” Rotondo said. “It was all about the unit-level economics.”

Having been in the restaurant industry since his teens, his experience helped him to fuel the brand’s revitalization. He worked hard to train Franchise Owners to align with his goals of lowering costs, increased the AUV to $500K, and tackled the corporate structure, rebuilding everything from culture to values.

Changes to Tropical Smoothie Cafe caught the attention of BIP Capital, which made a major investment in the brand in 2012 and promoted Rotondo to CEO.

By 2014, the company had signed 100 franchise agreements and saw sales increase 11.4% year-over-year, highlighting the success of Rotondo’s efforts. Not slowing down, the brand has opened over 500 Cafes YTD and has set its sights on increasing the AUV to $806,920 for the top 50% of franchisees by the end of 2016 and to reach 800 locations by 2017.

When talking about the brand’s future, Rotondo said, “You see a lot of concepts that open a lot of locations and you see their average unit volume flatten or even go down a little bit. We are not cannibalizing ourselves. We are growing smart and we’re growing in a way that is scalable and sustainable.”

Since day one, Rotondo has been committed to helping Tropical Smoothie Cafe Franchise Owners be successful. His vision, solid leadership, and belief in the concept and its people has created a sustainable model that customers love and Franchise Owners profit from. Unsurprisingly, Franchise Owners have flocked to the opportunity helping them grow to a monumental 511 locations.

“We’re at the next step in the evolution of the brand,” said Rotondo. “How do we go from 500 locations to 1,000?”

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