Entrepreneurship can be a challenging journey that requires hard work, dedication and perseverance. The path to entrepreneurship may be easier for those with resources and support, while others begin with only determination and passion.
Smoothie King franchisee Skyler Blacknall’s story incorporates both. Drive, determination and passion have always been a part of Blacknall’s life, but the resources and support from an unlikely Smoothie King leader helped put him on a path to ownership. Part of the Smoothie King family since 2018, Blacknall has now opened two Smoothie King locations and is planning a third by end of year. This is just the beginning for the multi-unit operator, as he plans to launch 25 stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, San Antonio, Austin, Colorado and Oklahoma in the near future.
Smoothie King seeks passionate operators that connect to the brand’s mission and vision and Blacknall has fit perfectly with the system. It’s the hurdles that Blacknall has had to overcome throughout his life that has helped prepare him for the challenges of running a multi-unit business.
Eye on the Prize
While Blacknall has now become a successful operator with the world’s largest smoothie franchise, he’s had to overcome several challenging moments. Blacknall’s life changed drastically as a young adult when he lost his mom and brother within six months. Enduring unimaginable heartbreak, Blacknall worked hard to not allow the tragic loss to deter him from his entrepreneurial dreams. Instead, he overcame the loss of close members of his family and manifested success, altering his outlook on life by focusing on the positive, while never losing sight of those that helped him get to this point in life.
A front-of-house employee with Smoothie King at the time, Blacknall was determined to own his franchise. Smoothie King, in particular, attracted Blacknall because of its mission to inspire people to live a healthy and active lifestyle. Growing up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, coincidentally where Smoothie King headquarters currently is, Blacknall realized quickly that the community desperately lacked nutritious quick-service food options and became even more determined to bring additional Smoothie King locations to his hometown. In fact, since Blacknall is a vegan, he found it difficult to find quick food options that met his dietary needs. This is one of the many factors that has motivated Blacknall to open Smoothie King locations in his hometown and in other markets across the U.S. He wanted to align his business dreams with a brand that matched his passion for healthier options.
As he began dreaming up his plans to own a franchise, Blacknall’s leadership skills were apparent to his superiors, as they immediately recognized his attention to detail and charismatic personality. He possessed all the qualities of selfless leadership and was quickly promoted to a multi-unit manager for the Smoothie King corporate team before becoming the store manager for several local locations.
Smoothie King Employee Turned Entrepreneur
To take the necessary steps to becoming a franchisee, Blacknall submitted his first franchisee application, but was rejected, as he didn’t meet the brand’s financial requirements. The very next day Blacknall’s life would be changed forever and in a way he couldn’t have possibly expected.
As Blacknall was working towards an entrepreneurial career, Smoothie King’s CEO Wan Kim was leading the brand through several improvements and was also tapped to appear on the hit show Undercover Boss. On the show, Blacknall was tasked with educating Kim (while undercover) on what it takes to run a Smoothie King location.
Blacknall’s leadership was quickly apparent to Kim, but this wasn’t the first time the two interacted, as Kim met him previously at the brand’s franchisee ‘Discovery Day,’ an opportunity for prospective franchisees to immerse themselves in the Smoothie King brand. Blacknall’s interaction with Kim on Undercover Boss showed the authenticity with which he carries himself, and it was clear that Blacknall deserved an opportunity to pursue his ownership goals.
Kim was knowledgeable of the hard work that Blacknall had put into his goal of owning his own store, fully aware that the only thing holding him back was the required financial capital. On the show, Kim awarded Blacknall with his own Smoothie King franchise location, which helped to jumpstart his entrepreneurial career.
Blacknall began running his first store in June 2020, and has already opened his second location. Blacknall is now preparing for the opening of his third store, which is scheduled to open before end of year.
With plans to open 25 Smoothie King locations, Blacknall continues his close-knit relationship with Kim. Blacknall is appreciative that he has the luxury of talking to Kim whenever he wants or needs – no matter the time, place, or how big or small the reason. Blacknall believes that Kim’s mentorship has been instrumental to his career success and looks forward to continuing to build the relationship throughout his tenure with Smoothie King and beyond.
Blacknall strongly believes in the motto, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” This has allowed him to overcome several challenging moments in his life, while maintaining a positive attitude. That’s helped put Blacknall on the path to entrepreneurship and his career is only getting started.