(Ambrosio’s note: Welcome to this week’s edition of Fro-Yo Files, an exclusive bonus series for Platinum subscribers of Franchise Chatter. Today’s post is the second installment of our 2-part series on sweetFrog.)
Instituting a Franchise Program
Still, sweetFrog has not had any problem attracting potential franchisees. Until earlier this year, all of the stores were either company-owned or turned over to owners through a licensing agreement. Cooley joined sweetFrog in May and has since been building a franchise program that allows the company to have more control over its brand and operations to ensure consistency and standardization. Since coming on board earlier this year, Cooley said he has signed more than 30 franchisees.
“I pretty much qualify prospective franchisees, and make sure they’re a good fit for us and we’re a good fit for them,” he said. “We’re having great excitement. There’s a good amount of people that we’re taking calls from every day with new leads.”
One of the obstacles sweetFrog has faced until now, Cooley admits, was ensuring that its brand remained congruent among its licensed stores. The franchise program will help overcome that obstacle by creating consistency from one store to another.
“We’ve grown so fast, we want to make sure we are supporting our store owners, and that they’re doing the things they need to do on a daily basis,” he said. “As we grow, we’re definitely going to increase the corporate support.”
It currently takes between six to nine months to open a franchise once an agreement has been signed, Cooley said. The company offers expertise in choosing a site and approves all architectural plans for a store. A corporate team works with the franchisee from build out of the store through the grand opening.
Still in the midst of compiling a list of best practices for its franchisees, the company has held round-table discussions on a regional basis, where operators are encouraged to share what is working in their location and raise operational issues that need improvement.
According to the sweetFrog Franchise Disclosure Document, the initial investment to begin operation of a sweetFrog shop is $220,000 to $350,000.
The ideal franchisee, according to Cooley, is someone who has business management experience, with food industry experience being a plus. The company is also interested in signing franchisees who are interested in multiple sites.
The potential franchisee does not have to share the company’s Christian values, but the company is interested in signing people who want to be involved in their communities, by partnering with churches, outreach programs, or institutions like Little League.
“That’s something we pride ourselves on,” Cooley said. “We don’t want people joining who are just for the business part. We want them to be a presence in their community and make their community a better place than it was when they first started.”