(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: California Franchisee Peter Kim Talks Candidly About His Experience with Yogurtland
Peter Kim has been with Yogurtland for two-thirds of the company’s life. I asked him about his experiences as a franchisee during the company’s accelerated growth over the past four years.
Getting Into the Business
Back in 2007, Kim, an accountant by trade, had never dreamed of purchasing a franchise. But his wife, who had recently earned her Psy.D., was less than impressed with the earning power of a psychologist who’d just hung out her shingle. She suggested they buy and develop a franchise; a family member took them to Yogurtland for a taste. Needless to say, they found their match in what was then a relatively small company.
When Kim purchased his first franchise in 2008, his store was only the 21st of what today number almost 200 locations.
Back then, Yogurtland didn’t have the large infrastructure and support channels it has now. New franchisees were on their own, and Kim basically had to wing it with site selection. He got lucky. After hiring a real estate agent to scout out locations, he moved in, pretty much by default, into his Miracle Mile store in Los Angeles.
The location, on busy South La Brea Avenue, proved to be ideal. Today, that store is a tempting short distance from a fitness gym, a pilates studio, a yoga center, and a dance school. Just the kind of places where health-conscious consumers gather, who are a lot more likely to grab a frozen yogurt after a workout than an ice cream cone.
That first store took off, earning the highest sales — $1.6 million — at the time. How long did that take? “About a year,” Kim says.
Marketing, Marketing, Marketing
But Kim had to do quite a bit of legwork, particularly with marketing, to gain that early success. Kim and his wife were aggressive, innovative marketers.
They made postcards with coupons and free T-shirt deals. But they didn’t want their postcards “to look like just another piece of mass-marketed junk mail” in their targets’ boxes. So they bought 30,000 stamps, and Kim and his wife actually applied those stamps by hand. The idea was that a piece of mail with a real stamp looks unique, personal. The scheme worked.
The Kims did a lot of “grassroots marketing.” Kim’s wife went to the local school with free gift certificates. They reached out to “each and every business” in their neighborhood, and got business addresses from the local Chamber of Commerce. They sent out “come check us out” letters, and offered coupons for employees. Those employees came to check out Kim’s store in droves.