(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: New Jersey Multi-Unit Franchisee Michael Haines’ Experience with Yogurtland
For Michael Haines, his Yogurtland franchises have been enormously successful. From Denville to Hamilton to Ocean City, he’s been able to engage and keep New Jersey customers every day.
Haines, who has an M.B.A. and worked in “Corporate America” for fifteen years, had no restaurant or franchise experience when he, his wife Alisha, and her parents, the Friends, decided to purchase their first Yogurtland franchise in 2011. There was an extensive interviewing process, but the Haines and the Friends made the cut.
When I asked him how long it took him to get in the black after their first daunting investment, he replied, “One year.”
Although Haines admitted to Black Enterprise earlier this year that, “as an entrepreneur, you naturally have the desire to experiment or tinker with the brand,” when I spoke with him, he sounded totally aligned with the Yogurtland product and the company’s strategy. He reports that his parent company has been supportive, and he has plans to open more locations.
Steps to Success
I asked Haines what he’s done to make his franchises seem to bolt right out of the starting gate. Adopting the franchises as his own babies and really embracing the “customer experience” strategy have been key.
- Location. Haines’s franchises are in busy shopping and business districts, where foot traffic is high. The Hamilton location is near schools.
- “People Business.” Make sure you interact with every customer as soon as they walk in, Haines says. His employees always “smile, greet customers, thank them, and ask them to come again.”
- Invest More in Labor. Haines has about eight employees per franchise, a number that might be higher than strictly necessary, to make sure all customers are well looked after. Paying more wages is worth it if the stores run extremely efficiently. (Yogurtland has guidelines but no required number of employees.)
- Quick Service. “If there are more than five customers in line, then I put two employees on the register.” Haines says one of his locations in particular attracts a lot of business people at lunch time, who don’t have time to wait 5-7 minutes in line. If they know they can get in and out fast, they’ll be far more likely to keep coming back.