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Lemonade entrepreneur launches franchising initiative

Rob Sabo

Cheryl Goodwin-Huett Goodi to her husband has a plan to share her special blend of lemonade sipped at special events throughout northern Nevada with the rest of the country.

Goodi’s Fresh Squeezed Lemonade, those over-sized clear cups of lemonade topped with one or two lemon halves, earlier this year began expansion through franchising. The company has added franchisees in the Boise-Nampa, Idaho area and Palm Springs, Calif. Goodi’s also has branched out with corporate-owned locations at Lake Havasu City, Ariz., and expects to open another location in Phoenix by the end of the year, Huett says.

Huett began blending lemonade in 1989 and has run booths at special events fulltime since 1995. Most recently, she had sold ice-cold lemonade at the hydroplane boat races at Sparks Marina and the Reno Gay Pride Festival.

Huett says she decided to franchise the Goodi’s concept based on customer interaction over the years. As the business grew, she saw more opportunities to expand the concept, but time was at a premium after contracting booths at several hundred special events all across northern Nevada each year.

Selling lemonade for a living isn’t kid’s stuff, Huett cautions. Temperatures hovered near 100 degrees by the time she finished setting up her booth for the Sparks Hydrofest after an early-morning start. She uses an old U-haul truck to stage her booth and various restaurant equipment (Goodi’s also sells smoked sausages, hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches and other foods depending on the event and type of foods offered by other vendors).

“It’s very hard work,” Huett says. “There is a lot of equipment involved, and a lot of moving about. It’s a very physical activity, as well as the paperwork of running a business. But it is a good concept for a lot of people who want to start a business without a lot of money.”

Franchisees can get into the business for under $20,000, and Huett says she helps them establish a territory and contracts at regional special events. She also help franchisees purchase the necessary equipment, such as pop-up booths and the required food processing equipment. She trains them in proper food preparation, equipment setup and repair, and the best places to procure several hundred of cases of lemons.

Franchisees pay the company a percentage of total sales. Other expenses involve renting commercial kitchen space for food preparation.

“It is a very low cost to get in,” Huett says, “and we give them everything they need to operate. We don’t leave them high and dry. We communicate with them year-round.”

As Goodi’s grew, Huett added more reliable staff, which has given her more time to focus on growing the business and managing the needs of franchisees.

Current franchisees learned about the business opportunity by meeting Huett at special events. She plans on growing the market for Goodi’s franchisors through her Web site (goodisfreshsqueezedlemonade.com), along with an increased push to use social media. She’s already created a YouTube video produced by SkyTip Media of Reno that explains the business concept and its profit potential.

“You have personnel, you have everything a regular business has, employees, taxes, overhead. But there is not much overhead, especially if you just have one or two booths because you don’t have a storefront,” she says.

Franchisees are added to the Goodi’s Web site, along with a calendar of the special events they will be attending. If the franchising concept really takes off, Huett says she’ll have to add some sales staff to help manage accounts.

“I’m trying to step back a little bit from the physical running of (the booths),” she says, nursing a cup of her special lemonade.