(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 first of two parts. Stay tuned for Part 2 to be posted tomorrow.)
Exclusive Interview with sweetFrog Franchisee Tim Boswell
Tim Boswell is one of the first franchisees to sign up with sweetFrog frozen yogurt, which began its franchise program earlier this year. As one of the initial investors, he might not have had all the advantages that later franchisees might receive as the program evolves, but he has confidence in the sweetFrog product. Opened in September, Boswell’s store is one of a half-dozen opening this year in Jacksonville, Fla.
The Franchise is a Jacksonville Juggernaut
During the last few months, the city of Jacksonville, Fla., has been overrun by frogs.
Not the amphibious creatures of Exodus, but sweetFrogs, the fledgling frozen yogurt franchise that has been experiencing phenomenal expansion in the Southern city, much like it has up and down the East Coast.
“It sure gets people looking when they feel they’re being invaded,” says Tim Boswell, who opened a store in Jacksonville Beach in September. He said the number of Jacksonville sweetFrog franchises popping up in quick succession helps build brand recognition and serves to pique customer interest.
“I think it brings up a lot of curiosity and that will bring people in. I think it just helps out; it really lets people know that this isn’t just a little, single mom and pop operation. ”
Indeed, sweetFrog is one of the fastest growing franchise operations in the frozen yogurt sector. Since it was founded by Derek Cha in 2009, in just three years the company has expanded from a few stores in Richmond, Va., where it is headquartered, to some 150 stores in 19 states. By the end of 2012, the company expects to have opened 200 stores across the country.
The Jacksonville market serves as a good snapshot of the company’s growth as it rolls over the competition like a juggernaut. Three sweetFrog stores opened in the city within a few weeks of each other during 2012 and another three are in various states of completion, expected to be open by the end of the year.
SweetFrog’s Newly Launched Franchise Program
Until earlier this year, all sweetFrog stores were either company-owned or licensed operations. But with a new head of franchise sales, the company has launched a full-fledged franchise program and Boswell was one of the first to buy into it. In some respects, he has felt like a guinea pig, he said.
“SweetFrog is so new that I was actually maybe the first franchisee,” he said, admitting that he might have had fewer advantages than franchisees who sign up today because the program was still evolving even earlier this year. “I can’t say that they had everything in place; but they were doing their best and have come a long way in providing the assets to help you, the training to help you. It’s been kind of exciting to become part of this process.”
Boswell said sweetFrog provides an owner’s manual which is helpful in learning about the business, and he believes training procedures have improved since he signed a franchise agreement last spring. Although he spent time at one of the corporate stores in Richmond learning about the yogurt machines, much of what he got was on-the-job training once he opened his own store, he said.