Lovin’ Spoons is a growing chain of self-serve frozen yogurt stores located in the Southeast. Since the initial store launch in Savannah in November 2010, Lovin’ Spoons has experienced rapid, sustainable growth and brand awareness throughout the region, opening its fourth store within 14 months and attaining a loyal customer base that includes more than 10,000 Facebook fans.
Prior to starting the Lovin’ Spoons franchise, Diane Kahn’s career focused around sales and marketing. Diane worked in radio and TV advertising sales for six years and then founded Travelhost of Savannah in 1989, an award-winning visitors guide tied to a national network of in-room publications. She successfully operated the publication for 20 years before deciding to sell it. Diane is the president of Lovin’ Spoons.
Franchise Chatter (FC): Prior to opening Lovin’ Spoons in November 2010, you spent a year researching frozen yogurt shops nationwide and developing best practices. What did you learn during this year-long due diligence period?
Diane Kahn (DK): While living in Southern California, the epicenter of the self-serve frozen yogurt industry, I observed the best and worst practices in numerous stores there. Following additional research nationwide, I came to the conclusion that the vast majority of stores were cookie-cutter iterations of the same concept. I identified the need for clear differentiation in an extremely crowded marketplace.
FC: How are you positioning Lovin’ Spoons to compete effectively against other frozen yogurt brands in Savannah, and across the country?
DK: Lovin’ Spoons has a vibe unlike any other yogurt store. The 1970s-inspired décor creates a warm and inviting feel that keeps customers of all ages coming back. It always amazes me when I visit one of our stores and I see a 70-year-old man sitting in our vintage VW Bug eating his yogurt! Combining this unique concept with a superior product, superb customer service, a commitment to cleanliness, and unparalleled marketing makes Lovin’ Spoons stand alone.
FC: What are some of the most important milestones in your company’s history to date?
DK: We recently formed a strategic alliance with Freshëns Quality Brands, a legendary company in the yogurt industry, to create and manufacture a new premium and proprietary yogurt lineup scheduled to launch in June. In addition, a critical milestone was the January 2012 opening of our first franchise in Bluffton, SC. Finally, our Savannah store’s Facebook page has gained an incredible and passionate following of more than 10,000 fans in only a year and a half.
FC: Why did you decide to partner with Freshëns, the nation’s largest yogurt and smoothie company, to create your own proprietary line of frozen yogurt?
DK: With more than 25 years of experience in the business, we knew Freshëns had the expertise to help us complete what is already a very unique self-serve frozen yogurt concept – Lovin’ Spoons – by creating a premium frozen yogurt. Freshëns worked with the top flavor houses and a premium dairy to create these proprietary flavors on our behalf. We’re very excited about this partnership because they have taken a wide variety of good flavors and made them great!
FC: How is this new line of frozen yogurt different from your current offerings, and from the offerings of other frozen yogurt franchises? What can you tell us about your 25 new flavors? When will these be available in the stores?
DK: With our new Lovin’ Spoons yogurt, we have taken our popular flavors and cranked up the flavor profiles. These flavors were developed over the course of 10 months of side-by-side taste comparisons and we weren’t satisfied until we exceeded the flavors we previously served. In addition to the 25 new flavors, we have more than 10 additional flavors in the pipeline and will be developing many more in the near future. The new Lovin’ Spoons yogurt will debut in all four of our stores in mid-June.
FC: In terms of cost and ease of preparation, how does your new frozen yogurt line compare to your current one?
DK: The Lovin’ Spoons yogurt is freshly mixed in the stores, giving operators flexibility in their flavor offerings. Through the sharing of some common base elements, the new yogurt is a superior product and offers cost savings to our stores.
FC: Can you name the top 3 factors that contribute the most to the success of a frozen yogurt shop?
DK: Despite being self-serve, we insist on attentive, friendly customer service. Store-wide cleanliness is also a priority of the utmost importance, including keeping the physical store in tip-top shape. Of course, providing fresh, delicious, and tasty products keeps our customers coming back. By consistently focusing on these efforts, Lovin’ Spoons stores experience an extremely high rate of repeat customers.
FC: What can you tell us about the estimated initial investment, royalty fees, and profit potential for a Lovin’ Spoons franchise?
DK: Our highly competitive franchise fee is $10,000, and we offer a tremendous amount of support and established marketing strategies to help our franchisees succeed. The total cost for a franchisee ranges from $350,000 to $550,000. Royalties are the standard six percent of net sales, and our marketing fund fee is two percent of net sales.
FC: What are your growth plans for Lovin’ Spoons over the next 2 to 3 years, and beyond?
DK: We are now rolling out a rapid growth plan for Lovin’ Spoons, initially focusing on the Southern section of the United States. Our alliance with Freshëns is also providing us with unique franchising support that will significantly aid our expansion plans.
FC: How do you see the frozen yogurt industry evolving over the next five years, and what are you doing to keep Lovin’ Spoons ahead of the curve?
DK: Self-serve frozen yogurt offers a healthy and fun treat for all ages, and we feel it is here to stay. The alliance with Freshëns allows us and our franchisees to capitalize on their many years of experience in the frozen yogurt industry. The unique Lovin’ Spoons vibe appeals to all ages and both genders. Each store has an authentic vintage VW bug for customers to sit in and enjoy their yogurt. In addition to our inviting atmosphere, only Lovin’ Spoons carries our proprietary product of the highest quality, as well as a marketing support plan that makes our concept the one to watch!
FC: Is there anything else you wish to share about Lovin’ Spoons?
DK: As the founder of Lovin’ Spoons, I purposely remain involved in the day-to-day operations of the entire business, often working in each of the stores. This customer-facing exposure provides a unique opportunity to provide future operators with hands-on, in-store experience to help them succeed based on the needs of our loyal customers. We have developed an almost cult-like following, and engaging with the customers in my stores provides insight into what we are doing that our customers love so much. This is a rapidly growing industry, and in order to stay ahead of the curve we have to constantly work to improve our business, generate new customers, and keep our customers coming back.