The Best Location for a frozen Yogurt Store

Picking locations for a frozen yogurt business is very tough the most critical success factor for a frozen yogurt business after having enough capital is location, location, location. I think we did a very good job at the time we where looking. Back in 06 and 07 the economy was still very strong and there where hardly any spaces in the 1000 sq foot range, some of the best locations had no vacancy’s and/or after deciding on a space you find out the city won’t allow you to put food related use in or there is not enough parking or the landlord did not want to negotiate better terms. Both of our locations have allot of parking which is great for easy access, they are in high car traffic areas and there is no real competition close. Plus I located the stores near where I already live and work which was important to me.

The best location would be very dense living area with high foot traffic, easy parking would be a plus but not as critical I would also highly recommend putting the store some place where the weather is hot or consider serving coffee and Tea. (which is a more complicated business model) If you are in area that gets cold you definitely need to have a high foot traffic with allot of people living close by. This is why I think Pink Berry and Red Mango in  Manhattan can survive and thrive in the winter there are over 1.6 million  people in Manhattan there is a very small percentage of people that want to have frozen yogurt on a cold day you have a better chance of those people that like cold food on cold days finding your yogurt store  in an area of 22.96 square miles. The biggest problem with high foot traffic is you need to have more capital (money) to pay the much higher rent for the ideal locations and allot of times it is more difficult to build in those areas (as Red Mango found out in San Francisco when the neighborhood did not want them)

My advise do your home work when looking for a location spend allot of personal time at the desired locations, talk to all the other store owners in the area, talk to potential customers in the area and find out if the landlord and Realtor if there is a traffic study. also being next to businesses that draw people is helpful at our Larkspur location we are close to Bed Bath Beyond and Starbucks In San Rafael we share the parking lot with home Depot and Jack in the box. Most importantly be patient and look at allot of spaces before chosing (at least 100)

Building a frozen yogurt store was very difficult running it has a whole new set of challenges.

                 Running two businesses is a new challenge in my life we probably should have worked out some issues before opening for instance getting suppliers lined up before we opened. We are using www.greenleafsf.com to supply fruit they have been very good and got things going pretty fast.  Greenleaf  will deliver even small items which for a start up yogurt business with fresh fruit has been very helpful of course we still have had to make runs to the local grocery store and Costco for those times that we did not order enough. We are also trying to get the suppliers of our local farmers market to stop on there way and drop fresh fruit off for us we can save some money and support local farms.

April 2

We had a record day today of course we only have two day of statistics it feels really good to pull up to the Larkspur landing location and see people enjoying our frozen yogurt. Our busy time today was the lunch crowd 12 to 2pm we only had one person behind the counter at that time and people where discouraged but most waited to get there frozen treat. So far the top seller is the mocha and Green.

Our first full day April 1st 2008

 P1020445        P1020446 For the last three weeks we have been pushing very hard to open the store and I have had no time to write in the blog I do have lots of notes and will go back through them to write about how many challenges we have had to opening Berry Bliss yogurt. Today was the first day and we are still missing some basic things like a real menu sign. But I feel sometimes it is better to just keep moving forward even if all the pieces are not in place. The yogurt taste great we picked out a cool selection of toppings of fruit, nuts, chocolate granola etc, and will change them based on customer feedback the customers. We have 4 flavors of frozen yogurt now Green Tea, Original  yogurt, Mocha, and Soy

We brought in a little over $130.00 dollars in the first day not bad since we have done no marketing or promotion yet. We do have to get better at explaining the concept to customers especially training employees how to answer questions. Our first few hours of operation was hilarious Milton and Kevin from Performance POS www.performancepos.comthe company that supplied our cash register point of sale system came over to install the credit card machine and make sure it was all working properly. They put up our open sign and started selling yogurt since our first employees where unable to get started until about 2:30. Our larger open banner sign did not get put up until about 4pm supplied by West Coast Signs out of Novato, CA. www.westcoastsignworks.com We still hae allot to do and are actively looking for employees to cover shifts, training and marketing.

I will go back through my notes and share the building of the store and I will continue to share my experiences around operating one store and building the second store in San Rafael Ca.

Frozen yogurt opening date

Opening a frozen yogurt business is tough work, especially when it is your part time job. We are getting really close to opening.   The target date is April first for the first store in Marin.   The location is Larkspur Landing, but we still have three inspections by the Board of Health, fire Department and Building Dept.  This last week we were delayed because the company that was supposed to install the glass for the sneeze guard did not order the glass.  I ended up switching companies to East bay Glass, who said they can get it sooner.   Then they called saying because the edges are mitered it, will take a few more days.

    Taylor company delivered the Yogurt machines on Monday.  They ran us through how they work and how to clean them.   Unfortunately one of the machines made some weird clunking noises and then stopped working.  Not a good sign for a brand new 15,000 dollar machine. Taylor sales rep was very responsive and will have a new part out this week. Cleaning the machines is allot harder then I could have imagined.  They say it is very simple, and takes about 30 minutes.   It took us over an hour.   But I can see after we get the system down, we can get it closer to that 30 minute mark. The machines came with a DVD and manual, but for future employees we need to make a simpler system for them to follow.

Top five reasons I am starting a frozen yogurt business.

 1.  Seamed like a good idea at the time.

 When I first saw PinkBerry in LA September 2006 I was surprised at how popular it was and how good the yogurt taste,  plus it had  the whole organic, low calorie, healthy vibe to it.  This was also before the press started talking about them, and the start of the yogurt wars. Basically I thought this was a good business and I should bring it to Marin county before they do.

2. The yogurt business looked simple to build and simple to run.

Looked, is the key word here.  Everything  had a new learning curve from negotiating leases with property managers and landlords,  to dealing with health department codes, and building departments. To building the store and not driving my neighbors crazy with noise.   (It is still unclear  to me,  how I’m going to operate a retail store.)

3. The appeal of cash transactions.

 I’ve been  involved in the construction business for 22 years, and the thought of having a business that gets paid per transaction is very appealing.   No more accounts receivable, payment terms, or collection phone calls.

4. Having a business that can be run by teenagers.

Writing this does not seem to be a benefit, but the appeal was that the learning curve for  making frozen yogurt is not as steep, compared to the construction business.  Plus, there is the added benefit that employees are less likely to get hurt making frozen yogurt compared to working with heavy equipment, standing on roofs, or working from ladders.

5. Looked like a fun business to get into.

After the Internet bubble burst,  I decided I would not invest in businesses I had no control over,  and I would just put money back into my business, or look at other businesses to start. So rather then pay someone else to go into a crazy venture and risk stock holders money, I decided to invest in my own crazy Ideas.  Plus, one of my mentors George Leonard, always told me, “Life is all about learning, never stop learning” Starting this business is just another learning opportunity.

Current state of my Frozen yogurt business

P1020326 We have been very busy building out 600sq foot store.   It is amazing how much stuff we have had to jam into the space because of all the rules and regulations.  Between building permits, and health department requirements, to California Title 24 requirements, (California’s Energy Efficiency Standards)  But currently we are installing tile in the kitchen area.  We are using Quarry tile from Dale tile.   The health department likes this tile.   I did change the color, which delayed us a couple of days, because we needed to get approval for color changes from the health department. They don’t want you using cheap tile and don’t want too dark a tile (lighter colors are easier to see if it is clean I guess).   The following link has the “accepted floor materials

This also only applies to California/Marin County check your own local codes.

In future post I will go through the whole process of getting permits, approvals and our inspections.

Frozen yogurt blog

This is my attempt to write about the frozen yogurt business, after a friend kept bugging me in September 2006, to check out Pinkberry www.pinkberry.com.   I went to LA and was amazed to see the crack berry craze for this simple frozen yogurt. They had a line out the door, and the yogurt taste amazing.  The first bite is a little tart.  But you get a  choice of healthy toppings, nut,granola, blueberries, mango, strwberries etc.  In LA I was introduced to friends of a friend who was from Korea.   They new all about Pinkberry and told me that Pinkberry copied the concept from a company in Korea called Red Mango. Red Mango at the time, had about 120 locations in Korea, and was slow to get a started in the USA. My new Korean friends invited  me to Korea in October.   I love to travel and thought it would be lots of fun to get out of town, with the excuse of looking into another business.

Red Mango was everywhere in Korea.   They where not as popular as the Pinkberry in LA,  but they where doing a fair amount of business, plus they were all over Seoul. When I got back, I started looking for locations in Marin county Ca, just north of the golden gate-bridge. In this Blog I will try and share my experiences.


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