Interviewing Steele Smiley, CEO & Founder, Crisp & Green

Steele Smiley, CEO and Founder of Crisp & Green

Today we interview Steele Smiley, CEO and Founder of Crisp & Green. On his Linkedin profile, Steele describes himself as: CEO, Entrepreneur, Investor, Board Member, Creator, Founder & Builder of Brands Worldwide from the US.

1. How did you enter the franchise business?

In 2013, I sold my boutique fitness studio to international wellness company Lift Brands, a global wellness company that built and managed multiple fitness concepts. I joined the parent company as Chief Officer and led the growth initiative to add over 1000 units in over 20 countries.

2. Where and how did the idea of your concept come from?

I’ve always wanted to launch multiple businesses in multiple industries. In fitness, I taught people that the hour you work out can only be so impactful. During the other 23 hours of the day, is where you can really make a difference in your fitness and wellness goals by making the right food choices. The opportunity that I felt was staring me in the face was food. Evolving my career from fitness to healthy eating was only a natural next step.

Crisp & Green outlet

3. What inspired the brand name?

I wrote down hundreds of names before I decided that CRISP & GREEN was the one. I loved the ring it had to it and I could picture people saying it. I appreciate quality in all aspects of life and to me, a quality salad is just that – it’s crisp, and it’s green!

4. What is the story behind the brand’s logo?

It’s essential that consumers can easily understand what type of business your brand is. The stylized ampersand is a classic symbol that connects the words and the addition of the fork is a recognizable element of dining.

5. What makes your brand different from your competitors?

A great restaurant starts with a fantastic product and great customer service. Those two things are a given. What we do differently is our emphasis on committing to our communities. We have become a wellness resource in every neighborhood we’re in, offering hundreds of complimentary fitness classes a year, all across the United States. We’re not just here to sell healthy food, we’re here to help people live a better life.

crisp and green

6. What are the essential qualities that you look for in a franchisee?

I look for partners who truly believe in the philosophies of the brand, willing to do what it takes to protect and promote the brand with every move they make.

7. How long does it take, on average, for your franchisee to realize their investment?

As a US brand, we are regulated on how we can present financial performance, and only very specific information is allowed to be published.  However, I can say that based on 2020 numbers, our units that were open 24 months or more averaged over $2 million in gross sales, with a bottom line of 15% profit. 2021 numbers will be released in first quarter 2021, with numbers that exceed 2020 performance.

8. What was the major challenge you faced in your career, and how did you overcome it?

In early 2020, the news of the coronavirus started to circulate. I kept a pulse on it and my team and I proactively put a plan into place on how we would battle this if it ended up spreading to the US. As we all know now, it did, and life as we know it changed.

Every single day, my team and I thought of ways to sustain our business and continue to innovate. We decided to not look at COVID as a challenge, but rather as an opportunity.

8.1.What is your best achievement?

I often tell people that my greatest skill is not starting businesses, it’s the ability to put together winning teams. I have a knack for recognizing talented people!

9. How does your business day start?

I run my life like I’m in the military. I believe that greatness starts with consistency, discipline and systems. I have several publications I read every day, I workout twice a day, and I continuously keep a pulse on every aspect of my businesses and my life.

10. What was your best moment throughout your franchise career?

Leading the International expansion of Lift Brands was a very rewarding experience. I look forward to doing the same in the restaurant industry.

11. Where do you see your brand in the next 5 years?

I believe we will be the largest, privately-held, healthy restaurant in the world.

12. Any tips you want to impart to our readers who want to be in the franchise industry?

Invest in a concept where there’s a proven recipe to success driving by a winning team.

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