While many businesses have strong traditions they like to follow, one Virginia-based frozen yogurt franchise is going nontraditional with its locations. SweetFrog, headquartered in Richmond, is currently opening non-traditional locations for its brand in some promising places. This year, the brand has added a kiosk at the Fredericksburg Field House and will have its first kiosk ready to open on a military base within the next few months, Director of Franchise Marketing and Development Shemar Pucel said during a recent interview.
“It’s going through construction now, which is really really exciting,” she said.
Franchisee Timothy Barber, who is opening the kiosk on the military base, is also hoping to expand further to other bases in Virginia and Maryland, Pucel added. On top of that, sweetFrog is also continuing its push to go mobile.
“Our mobile trucks are really taking off now,” Pucel said. “We’ve added two new units already and I have several more in the works for the end of the year. So, we’re much more than just the traditional shop nowadays.”
Those two new mobile units are in Fort Worth, TX and Cleveland, OH. They join the three mobile trucks already in use in Richmond. But sweetFrog hasn’t forgotten about its traditional locations. In fact, the company wants to get to 400 opened locations by the end of thisof next year, Pucel said.
“Over the next six months, that’s pretty much the main goal,” the director of franchise marketing and development noted.
SweetFrog is busy holding two discovery days per month that usually have three to eight potential franchisees taking part. Currently, the brand has 342 locations open in 27 states and three countries, including Egypt and eight in the Dominican Republic.
While sweetFrog is well represented in the eastern United States, there are still many opportunities in places like New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts. The company has its sights set on expansion in Minnesota, Illinois, California, Nevada, Arizona and Texas.
“We are making a very strong push to get more and more people in the midwest, the west coast as well as the southwest to open up sweetFrog locations,” Pucel said.
Mobile units and kiosks aren’t the only new things sweetFrog has been exploring. Pucel said the company is always testing new products with the public to see how it might potentially expand its offerings. Recently, sweetFrog has tested both donuts and Rolled Froyo.
Support and Training
SweetFrog has a number of active duty and retired military members as franchisees, as well as families who own a location together. No matter their background, they all have some common elements.
“Our owners are all strong, business savvy professionals who have great managerial skills, are outgoing and like connecting with the community,” Pucel said. “We look for that bubbly, vivacious personality to become owners.”
When franchisees come on board, they meet Director of Training Alan Delano for their initial training in sweetFrog’s corporate training store and classroom in Richmond. Delano walks them through all facets of the business, both front of the house and back of the house. They also receive training in marketing tactics and how to use the various platforms sweetFrog has set up to help their franchise businesses grow.
The company also holds monthly owners calls and an annual three-day convention that is held in different locations each year. Many of the higher up executives also like to get out into the field and the company ensures they are visiting the stores at least once or twice per year.
Another area sweetFrog offers training for its franchisees is how to connect further with their communities. They encourage franchisees to join their local Chambers of Commerce, sit in on Parent Teacher Association meetings, attend fairs and festivals, connect with nonprofits and churches and ask those places if there is any way sweetFrog can help them.
In addition to serving frozen yogurt, sweetFrog holds paint parties, spirit parties, birthday parties, fundraisers, it has a field trip program and it also partners with the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts so the youngsters can get their financial literacy badges.
“We’re much more than just a place to go to grab frozen yogurt and walk out,” Pucel stated.
Along with its community involvement, the brand’s two beloved mascots, Scoop and Cookie, help it stand out. Children love to run up to the frog mascots and hug them, the director of franchise marketing and development said. It also has 121 proprietary frozen yogurt flavors; including cookies n’ cream, cake batter, cotton candyNSA Vanilla and original tart; plus two proprietary soft serve ice cream flavors. The community involvement, along with its comprehensive support network has garnered sweetFrog numerous accolades from various franchising organizations.
Started in 2009 by founders Derek and Ana Shaw, the brand was purchased by Boxwood Capital Partners in 2015. Pucel became involved after CEO Pat Galleher found her profile on business networking site LinkedIn. She was working for another Richmond-based franchise company at the time when Galleher invited her for coffee and explained the sweetFrog concept and its vision for growth to her.
“After several meetings and some hard-nosed negotiation, he convinced me to join the team.”
And now Pucel wants to convince others to join the sweetFrog team as franchisees. Whether as owners of a traditional location, a nontraditional location or a mobile unit, sweetFrog has a franchising opportunity suitable for everyone.