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When Entrepreneur magazine announced the top new franchises for 2013, the frozen dessert sector dominated the top five: Kona Ice, Menchie’s, and Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt took the No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 spots respectively.
That kind of recognition by trade press draws more investors to the Orange Leaf franchise model, according to Vinny Provenzano, franchise development associate for the company. However, the majority of franchise leads are generated by people who visit an Orange Leaf store and are impressed with the concept and operations.
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“Our No. 1 attraction is (a potential franchisee) seeing another store with a line out the door,” Provenzano said. “That’s usually our No. 1 target — someone who saw our concept out there.”
And there are many Orange Leafs to see. Founded in 2010, Orange Leaf has grown to 231 units in 40 states and has become a global brand in under three years. There are another 105 stores currently in development.
And while Menchie’s frozen yogurt beat Orange Leaf out of the No. 2 spot on the Entrepreneur list for new franchises, Orange Leaf is differentiating itself from the competition by catering to a wide range of demographics, from children to seniors, Provenzano said.
Orange Leaf is a weigh-and-pay frozen yogurt franchise typically offering 16 different flavors at a time with some 40 different toppings from chocolate to fresh fruit. Children are naturally drawn to the treat, Provenzano said, and the franchisor attracts ‘tweens, teens, and college students by offering free WiFi service and turning up the pop music in stores on Friday and Saturday nights. Young parents are frequent customers when they bring their children, and seniors are often drawn by the healthy aspects of frozen yogurt when compared to other desserts such as ice cream, he said.
A graduate of the University of Oklahoma with degrees in finance and accounting, Provenzano, 25, started with Orange Leaf as a financial analyst in 2011 before moving into franchise development for the company.
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Finding the Right Franchisees
One thing the company insists on is a strong vetting process to make sure they are attracting the right franchisees, he said. The screening process could take as little as 30 days or up to six months, he said, while the company determines a candidate’s strengths, weaknesses, and challenges in becoming an owner/operator. The candidate will have already visited the company headquarters in Oklahoma City, Okla., and most logistics of opening a store will have already been determined.
“Our franchise agreement stage or final commitment to signing up is much further down the process,” Provenzano said. “We’re going to help them identify the key market they want to be in. Everything is going to be taken care of before a franchise agreement is signed.”
Provenzano said Orange Leaf is looking for individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit who “buy into” the franchise concept, which means creating “a fun, exciting experience for customers” and “giving back to their community.”