Tropical Smoothie Cafe® CEO, Charles Watson, talks franchising, technology, and bringing his franchise brand’s culture down to the consumer level.
November 21, 2019
Charles Watson, CEO of Tropical Smoothie Cafe® was a recent attendee at the Fast Casual Executive Summit in Austin, Texas. He sat down to do an interview with Tim Tang and talked about how his brand is innovating to meet the needs of today’s consumers. Here are some highlights of their conversation about his franchise business.
The impact of technology on the restaurant business and how Tropical Smoothie Cafe® is adapting to a changing landscape in hospitality.
“We’re finding ourselves in an environment where people want speed. And they want what they want when they want it, and that’s usually right now. We’re implementing a new point-of-sale system that acts as a hub and enables all third-party delivery, white label delivery, online ordering, etc…”
The role employees play in setting the customer experience in the restaurant.
“I’ll start with the fact that I believe that convenience is king. We must be able to service the guests who want to be on demand.”
In response to a question about the culture of Tropical Smoothie Cafe®, Watson elaborated:
“The mission of Tropical Smoothie Cafe® is to inspire a healthier lifestyle. I lean into that so that our employees can feel good about what they do.”
When asked about developing people skills with a generation used to communicating online,
Watson said this:
“It’s an opportunity for us as managers and Franchise Owners to teach the staff how to greet people, look them in the eye, and ask ‘how may I serve you today?’ It’s our job to teach the next generation. I don’t believe that the people side of our business is dead.”
Looking ahead to twelve months or two years down the road, Watson had this to say:
“Tropical Smoothie Cafe® is in an incredible growth phase. Always number one, what I am focused on, is unit-level economics for our Franchise Owners. Right next to that is our relationship with our Franchise Owners. My job is to serve them. And those are the most important things that I do.”
Tang asked Watson what support his Franchise Owners need from Tropical Smoothie Cafe®.
“The first thing is to be a business partner. We have three tenets in how we serve our Franchise Owners. Show them that we care. Communicate deeply. And drive their economic engine. Beyond that, we need to provide training. Provide product innovation and innovation in general. And provide technology.”
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