There are many things to consider when thinking about starting your own frozen yogurt business. Frozen yogurt is a huge trend across the United States and around the world that has grown immensely in the last decade. If you think this business is right for you, consider the top ten most important steps in creating this business.
1. Make a Plan
Decide on the type of frozen yogurt store you would like to open. There are two options for frozen yogurt shops these days. Self-serve stores have their machines out in the open and customers dispense their own yogurt and choose their own toppings. This store typically goes with the pay by weight pricing and has become the more popular option in recent years. Full service stores have their soft serve machines behind a counter and employees create the frozen desserts for the customers. This option is typically priced with set prices for each size cup. Consider creating a business plan with all your ideas and strategies that you want to follow. Here is a great resource on how to create a business plan.
Once you have a general plan for your business, you must decide if the area you want to open a store in actually needs a frozen yogurt store. You may want to open a store close to where you live but if there are already three frozen yogurt shops in a five mile radius, you may want to consider another part of town. Every business should be meeting a need for their customers, whether it be a food or service. You want to look for an area to open that isn’t already saturated with frozen dessert shops and could be bettered by a local frozen yogurt store.
Once you’ve decided on a general area that you like to be located in, you need to start looking for a lease. The most popular and profitable places for a frozen yogurt store to be located are in busy shopping centers, near a movie theater, or other high traffic areas. Start by looking for open leases in your area. You may want to work with a real estate agent to make sure that you can secure the best lease possible. Without a physical location secured, moving forward with any of the other steps is pointless. If the lease falls through or you can’t secure one, you may be stuck with inventory that you can’t return.
Next decide how you are going to pay for the major start-up costs involved with starting this business such as equipment and inventory. Talk to your local bank about getting a small business loan. Many banks will require a business plan to be presented before they will grant you a loan. Do your research any make sure you have done the proper preparation to get financing.
The next step is to start shopping around for soft serve machines. Start by doing your research and comparing the machines in the market. Here is a helpful blog article on tips to purchasing a machine. This blog is helpful to get started with comparing the major brands. Take your time with this step and don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions. Most importantly, do your own research. Call up all the companies you are interested in to get quotes and specification sheets. See if there is a foodservice trade show coming up near you or other events where you can see the machines in person. Go with the machines and company that you feel most comfortable with. You will also need to shop for equipment such as freezers, refrigerators, and toppings bars. Some soft serve machine companies will offer a package deal with the extra equipment but you made need to outsource these for a better deal.
Frozen yogurt mix is a huge decision because it will determine the taste for your store. There are many mix companies in the market that you can source from. The two main options for mix are dry or liquid mix. Dry mix typically ships in a bag and you will mix it with either milk or water depending on the recipe before pouring the liquid into your frozen yogurt machine hopper. The other type of mix, liquid, typically ships frozen and is thawed out before going into the machine. This blog discusses the pros and cons of both liquid and dry mix.
The next step is to apply for business permits. This is a great resource to find out which permits you will need in your area for your frozen yogurt business. Now is also a good time to research what kind of insurance your business will need. This step will differ by state so make sure to do your own research and enlist outside help if needed.
By now you will probably have come up with a name for your business, but you need to start thinking about a logo and colors. Work with a graphic designer to create a professional logo that can be printed on your cups and displayed around your store. Branding is a key step in the marketing process that will help create loyal customers who recognize your brand.
Next determine the layout for your store. You may have to work with a contractor to make changes to the building you are leasing. Most self-serve frozen yogurt stores have their machines behind a wall so that product can be refilled without disturbing customers. Machines can also be rolled away from the wall openings for cleaning. Be sure to create an inviting environment in your store that customers will want to hang out in. Think outside the box to create an atmosphere that is a destination. In addition to table and chairs, you can add couches in the corners for larger parties to gather in a comfy spot.
The last step is to purchase your additional inventory. You will need cups, spoons, toppings and any other ingredients and supplies for your specific menu. Your menu should be something you think about extensively in the planning process. Once you know what you products you need, start shopping around for foodservice companies to source from.
Opening a frozen yogurt business is not something you should venture into lightly. People see how many shops are sweeping the nation and assume it is an easy business to get into. Frozen yogurt stores are like any other small business which requires your time, commitment and resources. Make sure to do plenty of research each step of the way and enlist professionals if needed.
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