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(Ambrosio’s note: Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt is a fairly recent discovery of mine. While doing some research on the ‘net, I stumbled upon a personal blog that had a comprehensive list of frozen yogurt franchises, both national and regional. I was very impressed with what I read about Orange Leaf so I wrote about them in a blog post, which turned out to be very popular from day one.
Sensing a lot of interest for more information on Orange Leaf, I reached out to the company and, thankfully, their CEO Reese Travis accepted my invitation to do an exclusive interview with Franchise Chatter. I must say that Orange Leaf is one of the most professional and responsive franchises I’ve worked with for these interviews, and to me, that speaks volumes. This is a terrific interview worth your time and I hope you all enjoy it.)
Curious About Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt’s Revenue Potential (Item 19, FDD)? Click here.
Reese Travis has five years of medical sales experience at DePuy Orthopedics, Johnson and Johnson’s orthopedics implant company (where he was recognized for sales excellence), two years involvement with private equity and hedge fund groups, and one year as an Orange Leaf franchisee. In 2010, Reese and a group of investors bought out the original owners of Orange Leaf, and have since the grown the chain from 15 stores to 97, and counting.
1. What made you decide to purchase Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt?
It all started in 2009 when my father-in-law took me to an Orange Leaf store in Edmond, Oklahoma. I remember him saying “It’s a great atmosphere, great product, it’s appealing to the masses. Let’s buy it.” We did our research and the more we learned, the more intrigued we were, so a group of friends and family put some money together and we were off as franchisees. We quickly opened one store in Norman and another in Lawton with others not far behind.
My partners and I could see the industry growing before us, so we approached the owners about buying the entire company. We knew we were buying a great product that was extremely competitive in the marketplace and we have been expanding our presence nationally ever since. When we started, Orange Leaf had 15 stores and now, just a year later, we are up to 97 stores in over 20 states, with 59 more coming soon.
2. Why should someone interested in owning his or her own business consider a frozen yogurt franchise?
In this economy, people aren’t taking as many vacations or spending a lot of money on entertainment, but they’re still going out as families to enjoy time together over frozen yogurt. It’s an affordable treat and it’s not going anywhere any time soon. For franchisees, that means a reliable business and an investment they can feel good about.
My partners and I chose Orange Leaf because we saw the value in teaming up with a group that was selling a proprietary product in a fast-growing market. Franchising in general is a great option for investors because the hard work has been done for you. Corporate has already put in the time and effort to do solid market research, test what works and what doesn’t and, most importantly, build a good company track record. All you have to worry about is executing a successful business model.
Being an Orange Leaf franchisee is great because it allows you to be a part of a brand that’s bigger than yourself. You get to represent both the brand and the community by having a direct impact on the market without sacrificing customer interaction.
We don’t just call ourselves America’s Frozen Yogurt — we are America’s Frozen Yogurt. We’ve got flavors people recognize and our proprietary product has the same smooth and creamy texture we have all come to expect in an American frozen dairy treat. It’s a healthier dessert alternative that reaches across all demographics and satisfies every sweet tooth.
4. What qualities do you look for in a prospective franchisee?
We screen our potential franchisees very carefully. We are looking for franchisees with a real interest in being hands-on owners who are enthusiastic and community-driven. They have to be passionate about our brand and committed to maintaining its integrity.
5. Can you describe the ideal territory and neighborhood for an Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt franchise?
Orange Leaf is a community-minded, family-focused establishment that strives to be a positive addition to every neighborhood we serve. We have yet to find a location where people don’t want a fun, friendly place to spend time with each other — without spending a lot of money. The self-serve yogurt industry is trendy, but it’s not a fleeting craze. We’ve created a sustainable business model and superior product that is sure to outlast the competition in any market we enter.
The most successful franchisees are motivated by their customers’ positive experience. They see their business as a way to reach out and serve the community more than just frozen yogurt.
Orange Leaf is particularly focused on providing franchisees a model for hosting charity events and fundraisers to boost local morale. I love this company, but it would be for nothing if we didn’t use it to better the communities we serve. We’ve had so many franchisees doing great things, we even started a blog to keep track and spread the word. In Joplin, they passed out free yogurt to storm victims, volunteers, and emergency response teams. In Bossier City, they set up a donation for a tragically ill 6-year-old girl and her family. We are proud of our franchisees for taking initiative and representing Orange Leaf in such a positive way.
7. What kind of ongoing support do you extend to your franchisees to help them become more successful?
We partner with our franchisees from the onset, making ourselves readily available for anything they may need to be successful. Once they’re through the application process, we bring out potential franchisees to Oklahoma for “Discovery Day” where they meet the corporate staff and get a feel for how we do things. We want them to become self-sufficient business operators, but that doesn’t mean they have to be experienced from the start. At Orange Leaf, we focus on the overall experience, so what we’re really looking for is someone who places as much value on the customer as we do. We can teach the spreadsheets and business end of it.
As a franchisor, I get to help franchisees achieve their dreams of business ownership and financial security in a family-friendly environment. I am a businessman at heart and have great expectations for my company, not the least of which is providing franchisees the tools to become self-sufficient business owners and operators. I relate to their position; I understand their wants and needs. It’s more than a company — it’s people. I do everything I can to be available for them and provide the necessary tools for success because I want nothing more than for each franchisee to feel confident and accomplished.
Orange Leaf continues to stay ahead of the curve in the rapidly growing self-serve frozen yogurt industry. We have established a great product, strategic business model, and positive brand recognition. Consumer demand means franchisees have plenty of opportunity to grow their own business and our support system puts them in the best possible position to succeed.
9. Can you describe your typical day as CEO of Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt? What do you enjoy most about your job?
The majority of my work day is spent focused on our franchisees. Whether it’s a prospect inquiring about the company or an existing owner looking for guidance, I truly enjoy interacting and forming relationships. The most satisfying part of my job is watching franchisees fulfill their potential as successful business operators.
10. Is there anything else that you’d like to share with us about Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt?
In five years, we want to be the absolute leader in self-serve frozen yogurt. We have new stores opening almost every week and we don’t intend to slow down. Our team members at the corporate office see our franchisees as business partners and are dedicated to helping them every step of the way.