Before you even consider investing in a frozen yogurt franchise, take the time to learn what it really takes to succeed in this business. Click here.
(Ambrosio’s note: This is the interview that a lot of us have been waiting for. Yogurtland has been at the top of my wish list of franchises to feature ever since I started blogging. Aside from my own personal love of their product, I know there’s a lot interest in frozen yogurt franchises in general, and Yogurtland in particular. Larry Sidoti does not disappoint. He shares with us what differentiates Yogurtland from everyone else in the category. Now I understand why their flavors truly stands out. Enjoy!)
Curious About Yogurtland’s Average Unit Sales in 2010? Want to Know the Operating Profit of Their Affiliate-Owned Stores? Click here.
Larry Sidoti started a juice bar concept called Juice it Up in 1995. He held various positions throughout his 13 year run with the company. Larry left in December of 2007 after building the company up to 165 stores.
From January 2008 to April 2009, Larry served as the Vice President of Development for Mrs. Fields Famous Brands, where he was responsible for all development activities including real estate, construction, and franchise development for Mrs. Fields and TCBY.
I joined Yogurtland 2 years ago. Yogurtland was just starting to establish itself as a real player in the frozen yogurt industry. I saw an intriguing concept with some serious brand power and tons of potential.
Yogurtland is an exciting brand that just resonates with consumers and elicits a reaction you don’t see very often. I wanted to be a part of building a dominant brand while re-defining the frozen yogurt category.
I was intrigued by the company’s aggressive growth plans and impressive business model. I quickly bought into our CEO Philip Chang’s vision for the company.
2. Why should someone interested in owning his or her own business consider a frozen yogurt franchise?
Our business model speaks for itself. It is one of the best in the food service industry. Our track record of success is unparalleled. The Yogurtland brand is one of the best known brands in the category. We have built a solid infrastructure consisting of an experienced team of food service professionals.
Our frozen yogurt flavors are formulated in-house and completely proprietary to Yogurtland. Just ask anyone who has experienced Yogurtland — the response will tell you all you need to know.
The bottom line is, as an entrepreneur, you select a business model you believe will meet your sales and profit objectives. Yogurtland has proven that its business model delivers and often exceeds expectations.
Yogurtland is the original self-serve model. We created and defined the self-serve experience.
Yogurtland is well positioned both internally and externally and goes to lengths that our competitors will not go to. We strive to be great at each and every part of this business and when we achieve our objectives, we raise the bar higher.
Our emphasis on R&D and product development is one of our key points of differentiation. Nearly all of our competitors are using the same frozen yogurt provided by one or two sources. Each of our flavors is formulated in-house by a tremendous group of R&D and Product Development specialists.
We want to make sure we are delivering the highest quality and best tasting product at the best price coupled with an exciting and interactive experience. That is a difficult strategy to compete with.
4. What qualities do you look for in a prospective franchisee?
We look for prospects that possess a passion for this business and for our brand. If you want to give yourself a legitimate shot at success, you better believe in what you are doing. We want to ensure that we are culturally and philosophically aligned. We want to ensure that we have similar values and objectives.
From a professional perspective, we look for strong business backgrounds and a high business IQ. Obviously food service and retail experience are preferred but not mandatory.
In a nutshell, we look for business professionals that are culturally and philosophically aligned with us and share our company’s values.
We have a specific criteria and formula we apply based on a number of variables. I cannot really go into much detail on our process for competitive reasons.
6. Based on your observations, what concrete steps do your most successful franchisees take in order to build and grow their businesses?
Our most successful franchise operators are first and foremost brand warriors. They hire right and instill passion in their staffs. They inspire their teams to take ownership of their jobs and responsibilities, as well as the store.
They pay close attention to details and over emphasize the customer experience. They exceed expectations in key areas of the operation including customer service, educating consumers, product consistency, cleanliness, and presentation.
We have one franchisee that has 98% employee retention, treats his yogurt machines like children (talks to them every day), and tests product every two hours to ensure consistency. Short of talking to the yogurt machines, several of our operators exemplify this rabid passion for Yogurtland.
Yogurtland has gone to great lengths to develop and solidify the company’s infrastructure. We have assembled an experienced support team that encompasses every facet of the business, including leadership, real estate support and procurement, design and construction, training, operational support, marketing, purchasing, logistics, research and development, as well as product development.
Each support team is interconnected and aligned with the company’s vision and objectives, which in turn is critical to achieving system-wide “buy-in.” This flows back through the franchise community and to the company, ensuring that we are delivering the most effective support and value-added services to our franchise partners.
Our ongoing operational support team is constructed in such a way that they provide business coaching and guidance in critical areas of the operation. The team visits and meets with our franchise partners once per month on average, which is much more frequent than industry standards.
8. What would you tell a prospective franchisee who wants to know about the profit potential of a Yogurtland franchise?
Again, our business model speaks for itself. You can dress up a franchise or business opportunity all you want with deflections from what is truly important to the franchise candidate which is “am I going to make money and am I going to achieve the desired return on investment.” At the end of the day, the bottom line is the driving force.
Yogurtland is the industry leader and produces the highest average unit volumes in the industry. We have over 140 operating stores and a five year track record of success.
We actively and aggressively open corporate stores along with our franchise partners. Not only do our stores sport healthy bottom lines but we believe corporate operations keep us intimately involved in the day to day business, affording us the credibility to effectively support our franchise partners.
I would also encourage candidates to speak with our operators. What a clear picture they paint.
I am constantly jumping between operations and development activities. Fortunately, I am surrounded by outstanding people.
On any given day, I could be meeting with prospective franchisees and/or existing franchise partners, visiting stores, structuring deals, evaluating proposed sites, problem solving, assisting and supporting my teams and my favorite activity — sampling the creations of our product development team.
10. Is there anything else that you’d like to share about Yogurtland?
There is a lot of noise within the industry as frozen yogurt brands proclaim themselves “the best,” “the fastest growing,” etc. Based on what? Compared to what?
Since the day Yogurtland created this segment of the industry, we have exceeded the expectations of our franchise partners by exceeding the expectations of our customers.
Our CEO and founder Phillip Chang created an innovative way of experiencing frozen yogurt. This interactive experience was followed up with a brand promise of delivering great tasting and truly proprietary frozen yogurt flavors, using the highest quality ingredients, offered at the lowest price point.
Yogurtland puts the whole package together from the internal structure out, to deliver one of the most compelling business opportunities in the food service industry.