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Smoothie Operators: How Two Chains Are Optimizing, Store-by-store


Leading websites like QSR have noted the smoothies as one of the most promising verticals in the food and beverage industry. Here's a look at how two leading chains are scaling—and fast. 


Smoothie owners have declared a winner.

Operators of leading chains Tropical Smoothie Cafe and Smoothie King have not been shy about their software platform of preference.

As of this blog post, Smoothie King has 239 independent locations using Jolt for food safety, employee management, and recurring tasks. Tropical Smoothie Cafe adopted Jolt as a preferred vendor in 2016, when corporate began using it to push training materials, recipes, and more. Jolt is currently in 99% of TSC locations.

Why is Jolt so well suited for the smoothie business? In short, it provides a single platform for the segment's most critical needs—checklists, labeling, scheduling, and temperatures—at a price that's friendly to franchisees.

Below we unpack exactly which tools Tropical Smoothie Cafe and Smoothie King have used to optimize their stores and improve their bottom line.




 A look at what tools smoothie chains are using to quickly measure, and scale.


Handsome concentrated bearded waiter swiping credit card through the computer terminal in cafe


Digital Checklists

Digital checklists are the first critical step towards optimizing any store's daily operations. Tropical Smoothie Cafe and Smoothie King operators across the country are using this tool to complete and measure the critical tasks of their stores.

Here's how it works. 

Owners outline their ideal procedures in the form of checklists. Once created, these procedures become smart lists that appear to the right employee at the right time. Compare this to a store using paper checklists or spreadsheets,  and you're likely to see a massive  difference in the demeanor of the manager on duty. 

It's a bit inaccurate to call them checklists, even. With Jolt, you can require action beyond simply ticking a box. The app has over a dozen inputs including signatures, location check-ins, even photos of completed work.

This gives management a real-time view of how their stores are performing from anywhere, and that knowledge keeps employees accountable—as if the owner were always in store.

In short, any checklist can give you accountability. That's simply knowing who did—or didn't—complete a certain task. But by requiring a particular action, Jolt changes employee behavior at the ground level.

That's a fundamental problem, solved.





On-the-spot Training

Seasoned owners know training doesn't just take place after hiring. In an industry constantly experimenting with recipes and creating custom orders, smoothie owners and managers need a way to keep employees proficient without cluttering their store with laminated cards and three-ring binders.

Many traditional restaurants use a Learning Management System (LMS) to train their employees. While these are great at measuring initial competence and memory, they're little more than a standardized test on the front end, and fail to make ongoing training accessible.

With Jolt on your store's tablet, employees can access an information library for on-the-spot training or common reference materials. And when that's available to your workforce, interrupting the manager is no longer the first option. 

Many smoothie chains use the information library to push new recipes and procedures. In a single click, multiple locations' recipes can be updated, or any training video replaced with a new one.

Once you have content stored in the library, Jolt allows you to associate it with particular checklists. So the next time an employee needs a brief refresher on a task in their queue, they can access that training through the same iPad they'll use to show the work is done.

In practice, this frees up managers to handle more high-level duties, instead of retraining on the clock. Tying your training assets to checklists is a major operational advantage, most especially when you're expanding locations or concentrating on brand standards.





Custom Labeling

While digital checklists improve employee productivity, owners appreciate the efficiency and instant money savings of custom labeling.

Many smoothie places still rely on handwritten labels, even for critical food safety practices. Not only does this introduce human error, but it's inefficient when compared to a printer that can offer perfect, comprehensive information at six labels per second.

Beyond labor savings, Jolt uses thermal transfer labels, meaning you never buy ink, markers, or colored dots to handle your labeling. Following the likes of Amazon, Jolt established a partnership with Zebra printers to serve their customers as efficiently and affordably as possible.

As of this blog, Jolt offers the most cost-conscious labeling on the market at $0.00248 per label. Most smoothie locations offset the cost of Jolt through labeling alone. 




Temperature Sensors

Given how much money smoothie store owners have tied up in product, automated temperature sensors serve as a critical line of defense against tragedy.

Even with regular, manual measuring, a broken freezer unit can easily cost you five-figures worth of product. Jolt has firsthand experience with this, as our CEO—formerly a Baskin-Robbins owner—lost $10,000 in product overnight when his freezer failed. It was one of the main inspirations for creating the Jolt product.

But Jolt does more than just inform you that a freezer is out of range. The same moment you're alerted by text, Jolt prompts employees with a new checklist of corrective actions to take in the event of a failed freezer.

Not only do sensors keep a constant eye on your temperatures, but when integrated with Jolt, they offer employees the direction needed to rectify the problem immediately.





Scheduling and Communication

Employee scheduling is perhaps the heaviest part of a manager’s workload. The average restaurant manager spends 2.64 hours per week creating employee schedules. If you’re using a spreadsheet, that number jumps to 3.14.

Jolt alleviates this major pain with an intuitive scheduling tool, and communication features that expedite the process of building your next schedule. Employees can use Jolt to swap shifts, request time off, and generally shuffle as needed without manager intervention. Once the dust settles, managers simply approve or deny the requests in Jolt.

As an added bonus, the message blast and announcements features in Jolt make it easy to keep your staff informed of anything outside the normal routine. Announcements can even be set to appear on the time clock, meaning employees must read your message in order to successfully punch-in.






It's indisputable that employees are more productive when there's an owner in the store. Tropical Smoothie Cafe and Smoothie King have applied this simple principle to change their employee behavior and deliver more uniform results.

In a word, they've leveraged Jolt as a tool to change the context between staff and management. By digitizing the daily tasks in their business, owners and managers get a birds-eye-view of each store—a better vantage from which to make critical decisions. Employees, recognizing that transparency, understand that accountability is built into the business, and think more like owners.

Jolt has often been described as a "personal digital assistant manager." One app can handle your employees' tasks, training, schedule—everything they need. And by serving as the touchpoint for all employee needs, Jolt is able to keep real-time analytics of your store and handle the time-sucking parts of managing hourly workers.

Properly applied, it's a win-win for any business whose employees work on their feet. Clearly, Jolt is working for Tropical Smoothie Cafe and Smoothie King.

If recent reports are any indication, we're likely to see competitors follow suit.



Hear what smoothie store owners said about Jolt on our Case Studies page.

Want to learn more about Jolt first hand?  Schedule and demo and we'll show you what Jolt can do for your store.

 Get Demo Now

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About Author

Adam Lambert
Adam Lambert

A Tennessee native, Adam Lambert is a creative writer based in Salt Lake City.

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