Prior to becoming a Smoothie King franchisee in 2006, Sanden was an escrow officer in California. When the economy started to struggle, California was one of the first hit. Her company started cutting back on employees and, knowing she was probably going to leave soon to open her own business, she did something many wouldn't -- offered to leave her position, so she could save someone else's job and save a family from struggling. Sanden grew up with Smoothie King and loved the brand, so it was a no brainer that when it came time to make a move, she would become a franchisee. She now owns four locations in Metro Atlanta and is growing. She continues to grow with Smoothie King because of her passion for the products, which continues to drive her to be the best of the best.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
My mother was a single mom who worked three jobs to keep a roof over my head, put food on the table and allow me to pursue my passion -- gymnastics. Because of that, I grew up as a "take charge" kind of person. In any competition, I had to learn everything about it -- from the way they ran my school's field day to who I had to beat in a relay -- and if I didn't win, I trained harder to do it better. My mother pushed me to be the best I could, so when she passed away from cancer, I made a promise I would exceed her expectations. My upbringing really prepared me to own my own business and now I operate four Smoothie King locations in the Atlanta area. I think if you're going to be a business owner, you need to have a take-charge attitude and be competitive enough to want your business to be as successful as it can be. You can't sit on the sidelines.
How has your previous employment experience aided your position at Smoothie King?
In any job I've ever had, I was committed to working hard and learning everything about my position, which included asking a lot of questions. As a Smoothie King multi-unit franchisee, I understand my business inside and out. But that's only because I acted as if I was a team member when I was learning the business, so I could learn what I would be teaching. I've always given 110 percent and this is no exception.
What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Smoothie King?
I'm so passionate about Smoothie King and being able to do what I love has been the biggest highlight. I've had the pleasure of meeting great people in my stores and watching them transform their lives by becoming healthier. I'm humbled I was able to be a part of that. The biggest challenge is trying to instill my passion in others. We have great employees that are willing to learn everything about the products and the brand, but as I'm sure many small business owners can appreciate, sometimes those passionate employees can be difficult to find.
Why did you want a career as a franchisee?
I didn't seek out a career as a franchisee. Before joining Smoothie King, I was an escrow officer in California, where we were hit very hard by the economy. When my employer started making cutbacks, I decided to quit my job, so someone else wouldn't have to be laid off. I had been considering leaving in a few months to do something different, like own my own business, so the timing worked. I knew Smoothie King because I had been a frequent customer growing up as a competitive gymnast. I decided if I was going to own a business, this was going to be it. My husband is a franchisee with another brand and really sold me on the idea of considering a franchise since I would be a part of a growing brand with a 41-year history of success. And without frying or cooking involved, Smoothie King would be a simpler concept to run than owning a full-service -- or even a quick-service -- restaurant.
What advice can you offer women who are seeking a career as a franchisee?
I'd offer the same advice to any person -- male or female -- wanting to become a franchisee. You have to work hard. While you are part of a proven concept and have the support of the franchisor, including product development and marketing, it's your business and it will only be successful if you put effort into it and build great teams to support it.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I could answer this differently every day. My husband, son and business are all equally important to me, so, depending on the day, I juggle things differently. Whether that means helping my son with school, spending qualify time with my husband or managing my business and staff, I make sure everyone understands how important they are to me and that I'm here if they need me. Of course, entrepreneurs are human! We make mistakes. But I've realized spending time with my husband helps me stay balanced and as my son gets older and more independent -- he's 14 now -- that will help me balance out my day-to-day schedule.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I think the biggest issue is equality. Unfortunately, there are still some industries where women are overlooked and not considered to be authorities in that business or still do not have a presence on senior leadership teams. Fortunately for me, I found a great opportunity in franchising that lets me be a leader by running my own business. Smoothie King has many female franchisees -- and is continuing to recruit more -- and I'm happy to be one of them!
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I've never had a formal mentor, but my mother played a significant role is helping me become the leader I am today, both personally and professionally.
What do you want your Smoothie King locations to accomplish in the next year?
My goal is to help as many guests as possible achieve their goals for living a healthier lifestyle, whether that's eating better, losing weight, exercising more or just feeling better and happier. I want to provide the best customer service possible, so our guests become loyal fans of Smoothie King and continue to come back for our great-tasting smoothies and other healthy products.
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