Overview - Frozen Yogurt Lighter in texture and containing fewer calories and fat, soft-serve frozen yogurt is a healthier alternative to ice cream, sorbet or gelato. Yogurt shops focus on selling soft-serve frozen yogurt along with various toppings and mix-ins, plus items such as soft-serve frozen yogurt shakes and smoothies as a meal replacement.
How to Begin… If you are opening a conventional bricks and mortar store, select and secure your location. Other location options include vending truck or trailer, shopping mall food court or floor space for a standalone kiosk concept. Determine what type of operation it will be. You may choose self-serve (weigh & pay), conventional full-service treats or a hybrid form of the two. Research your local market to identify market niches to appeal to customers and learn about menu offerings and pricing scales.
Step 1 - Design Design the shop around the type of operation you have chosen. It is important to hire a licensed architect /project manager. Have them collaborate with an experienced retail store designer. That team can conceptualize a store built around a theme that encompasses the vision of the concept.
Step 2 – Permits & Licenses Register & fulfill the health and retail permits required to open a food business in your area. File the approval documents with the appropriate municipalities. Depending on where you live, you may need an assumed name certificate, sales tax permit, food manager certification, food-handler permits or a food enterprise license. Contact your state's health department and small business development. They will provide you with a check list of business documentation they require.
Step 3 - Menu Develop a menu of items to offer. Your menu will be based on your operational model. Your featured product will be frozen yogurt. Customers love to add toppings, such as honey, granola, candies, fresh fruit, flavored syrups, sprinkles. Options such as shakes, parfaits and smoothies can be served depending on your operational design. Offer your customers convenience options like grab and go containers of frozen yogurt, yogurt pops and yogurt sandwiches. To accomplish this, you should add a small blast chiller to your equipment list to temper the product after packaging. Procure ice cream containers and molds of various sizes to package to-go orders from the same supplier you use for your napkins, cups and spoons.
Step 4 – Equipment Purchase commercial soft-serve frozen yogurt equipment. The number of machines will be based on: –Electrical service: Available or Upgrade –Operational design: (A) Self-serve (weigh & pay), (B) Conventional full-service treats or (C) Hybrid form of the two. –Capacity or how much production will you require? –Square footage for store configuration
Step 5 - Purchasing Procure the highest quality yogurt product available. Favor options can be a huge point of differentiation in your market. Make sure your product is fresh, easy to obtain and can be delivered in a timely matter. Whenever possible, purchase the toppings and ingredients for your frozen yogurt that are grown and or produced locally. Incorporate those products into your marketing campaign.
Step 6 - Promote Promote your soft-serve frozen yogurt business. Make use of online social networks and social coupon sites. You can also launch a promotional blog or website, sponsor family events throughout your city or place coupons and fliers in complementary businesses.
Tips & Warnings Diversify your frozen yogurt offerings to appeal to what is happening now. The sweet flavors that mimicked ice cream in the 1980s and 1990s have been replaced by fresh tart flavor profiles. Consider offering drive-through service to appeal to busy customers if your operational model has a plan. Some business owners may want to start a frozen yogurt franchise. Advantages include access to customer base, brand identity & popularity, shared marketing & advertizing streams. Disadvantages include paying franchise fees and loss of autonomy in menu and venue design.
Tips & Warnings - continued Frozen yogurt businesses in locations, such as beaches, & parks, may experience dramatic seasonal fluctuation depending on geographic region. Consider opening such establishments on a seasonal basis. Your ROI should reflect your decision. Keep in mind that self-service frozen yogurt establishments can lead to cleanliness issues. Keep customer areas sanitary to adhere to health codes to avoid penalties and law suits.
Yogurt is Making Headlines Frozen Yogurt Seller: It's All About the Self-Serve By: Bud Gunter of Sugar Creek Foods International With frozen yogurt shops proliferating across the country's landscape, an Arkansas-based company that supplies frozen yogurt sees one central trend -- it's all about the self-serve experience for customers. Sugar Creek Foods International of Russellville, Ark., sells its Honey Hill Farms frozen yogurt to more than a 1,000 independent frozen yogurt shops across the United States, and not one of the new shops this past year has been a full-service operation, said Bud Gunter, Sugar Creek vice president and partner. "We have not served a new single store that is full-service. It's all been self-service," Gunter said. Gunter said customers like the self-service style instead of being served from behind a counter because the patron is in control."The novelty is that you can control what you're making," Gunter said. "People like to mix it up when it comes to creating their own frozen yogurt dishes." Source: Nation’s Restaurant News – May 21, 2011