(Ambrosio’s note: Welcome to this week’s edition of Fro-Yo Files, an exclusive bonus series for Platinum subscribers of Franchise Chatter.)
Fro-Yo Files: Interview with Menchie’s Franchisee of the Year Vijay Vaswani
Menchie’s, the family-focused frozen yogurt giant, continues to attract new entrepreneurs. Franchise Chatter speaks to first-time franchisee Vijay Vaswani about his early success with his El Paso location.
The Road from Custom Jewelry to Frozen Yogurt
Vijay Vaswani is new to the franchise world, but not to retail — or to hard work and success. Before joining Menchie’s, he worked in retail from age 13 in his family’s business, and became a gemologist and designer of custom jewelry, in Southern Florida. After creating a piece for an NFL player, word spread, and he soon had famous clients, including Michael Irvin and several Miami Dolphins players. But a few years ago, as the economy plummeted and the price of gold and diamonds skyrocketed, business began to lull. Vaswani, who is someone who “needs a little more action and turnover,” grew “bored waiting for customers,” and began to look around for other opportunities.
“I’ll never forget the first day I came across the self-serve concept,” Vaswani says. “It was phenomenal.” In 2006, he began to research the frozen yogurt industry. But the timing wasn’t right, and when he revisited the idea of opening a frozen yogurt store in 2008, it was too late: “The market was already saturated in Southern Florida.”
So Vaswani left the jewelry business and he and his wife moved to her parents’ town, El Paso, Texas, where the market was relatively open. The move to a different climate and culture was a bit difficult, but Vaswani had been growing increasingly dismayed with Southern Florida. “The landscape is pretty, but they don’t have pretty personalities there,” Vaswani says, dryly noting the region’s rampant “road rage.”
It was easy for Vaswani to choose Menchie’s, which “was a really good fit.” He was concerned at first about entering the industry, wondering “how long frozen yogurt would last” and whether it was just another “hot fad.” Plus, opening a store is “not cheap.” But he felt confident when he met with Menchie’s executives. “I totally got their vision,” he says; “it complements our vision.” Their “marketing just made sense,” and he appreciated their “work culture,” which he feels is rare these days. “I don’t see this anymore, where employees treat customers like family.”