Tropical Smoothie Café CEO Mike Rotondo knows quite a bit about going after what he wants. After all, he has helped grow the café concept in the past six years to make it one of the most successful franchise brands around. But a letter from a young middle school student imploring him to open a café in Bismarck set him on his heels. So Rotondo came to Simle Middle School today to meet the young student Christine Freund, along with several hundred of her closest friends and teacher, to learn how a 6th grader could learn to be so persuasive.
“I receive inquiries all the time from potential vendors and fans but this letter was special,” Rotondo said. “This young girl did her homework, researching competitive activity, consumer demand, and opportunity. I needed to make the trek to meet the young woman who I hope to one day have on my development team!”
Rotondo noted that while he visits many cities since the brand is opening on average two cafes a week, this trip brought him face-to-face with one of the brand’s ultimate fans in a market where no cafes currently exist. “While smoothies put us on the map in 38 states, I hope it’s enthusiasm like Christine’s for our complete better-for-you menu line up that continues to grow our concept.” He even invited the 6th grader and her class to have lunch on him, the brand’s busiest daypart, when a café does eventually open in the market.
Freund wrote Rotondo as part of an “argumentative” English writing assignment for Jamelle Clements who is wrapping up her first year of teaching sixth grade. Students were given the driving question of, “What business would you like to see open in Bismarck?” They conducted their research and found three pieces of evidence as to why Bismarck would be a good location for the company they chose. According to Clements, students needed to state their ‘claim’ and back it up with their evidence. They also had to think of the ‘counterclaim,’ which was composed of two evidence-based reasons why the CEO of the company might say NO to building in Bismarck. The students then turned their research into a business letter addressed to the CEO.
“As an English teacher, my goal is to get my students to acquire a love for writing. For anyone to love to do something, I feel there has to be a purpose and an audience,” Clements said.
“Bismarck is growing rapidly. We have plenty of places where the city is expanding that would give you good options for where to build your restaurant,” Freund wrote in her letter. “The closest Tropical Smoothie is in Fargo, ND, which is more than two and a half hours away.”
Rotondo was so persuaded by the letter, he came to the school on Monday and met with Freund, Ms. Clements, the entire 6th-grade Assembly, along with representatives of the local chamber of commerce and Bismarck Public Schools.
And, yes, he is now pursuing conversations with potential franchisees to bring Tropical Smoothie Café to Bismarck, ND.
Founded in 1997, Tropical Smoothie Café is a fast-casual restaurant concept inspiring healthy lifestyles across the country, with over 484 locations nationwide. With snack and meal options for any time of day, Tropical Smoothie Café serves smoothies, salads, tacos, wraps, sandwiches, and flatbreads. The rapidly growing franchise has received numerous accolades including being ranked on Entrepreneur’s 2015 Franchise 500, 2015 Fast Casual Top 100 Movers and Shakers and Nation’s Restaurant News’ 2015 Top 200. Tropical Smoothie Café is seeking qualified franchisees to expand throughout the United States in markets such as Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Charlotte, Philadelphia and Columbus, Ohio, among others. For more information, visit www.TropicalSmoothieFranchise.com.