Yumz Gourmet Frozen Yogurt
The first person to hear about Thelander’s concept was his wife, Lori, who came onboard as co-founder. The Thelanders then enlisted the help of John Barnes, with whom Thelander had worked previously and who has an extensive marketing background, and Yumz Gourmet Frozen Yogurt’s unique concept took off.
The Yumz group knew they were facing serious competition and set out to differentiate their brand by offering gourmet frozen yogurt as the base product. “We really felt that without great taste, nothing else would matter,” Barnes explains. “We partnered with a dairy that was able to provide us with high-quality yogurt that tasted almost like ice cream.”
Next was variety. “We said, ‘variety is king,’” Barnes explains. “We wanted customers to have so many options that there would be thousands, maybe millions of combinations that people could make, so they’d want to come back over and over again.”
To showcase the multitude of combinations available, Yumz Gourmet Frozen Yogurt came up with the “Coolest Combos™.” At the company’s website, anyone can enter their favorite yogurt and toppings combinations and name their creations. The Coolest Combo winner of the year for 2012 was the Yumberry Cheesecake, created by Samantha Glazer. Her creation consisted of strawberry, cheesecake, cake batter and raspberry pomegranate frozen yogurt, topped with strawberries, cheesecake bites and strawberry boba balls.
At each of its eight stores, a touch-screen computer is part of the decor to allow guests to peruse the many combinations created by other customers.
Yumz Gourmet Frozen Yogurt is focused on making sure clients have a positive experience, both with the quality of their frozen yogurt and with the service they receive at the stores. “I am proud of the fact that we’ve established a place where people smile when they come through the door and they smile when they leave,” Thelander says.
To ensure a unique experience, the Yumz team is carefully selected for their outgoing personalities and willingness to engage with every guest who comes through the doors. “If our employees engage with the customers, the customers will come back,” Barnes explains. “So we start out with the cream-of-the-crop and put them through our unique training program that’s designed to WOW the customer and elevate employees to be the superstars of the frozen yogurt world.”
This attitude extends to the selection of Yumz franchisees. “We want to attract the kind of people who are going to be enthusiastic about the concept,” Thelander explains.
The founders of Yumz Gourmet Frozen Yogurt are so committed to ensuring the success of franchisees that they are personally involved in the development of each franchise. “You get some things with Yumz that you don’t get with other companies,” Barnes explains. “You get personalized attention from us and, since we are a small company, you can open a store for $250,000 to $300,000, instead of the half-a-million dollars required by other franchisors.”
The personalized assistance starts at the beginning of the process. “We help the franchisee out through the entire process,” Thelander explains. “From dealing with the general contractor while building the store, to decorating, training and, of course, the grand opening of the store – we are part of every step because we feel that personal touch is key.”
Thelander and Barnes want the stores that carry the Yumz name to become profitable as quickly as possible and they also want to make sure the stores are part of their communities. “Being connected to the community is very important to us,” Thelander notes. “We’ve done a number of Big Brother, Big Sister events, local blood drives, food drives, etc.”
The company encourages each new Yumz owner to find ways to help the community at each individual location. “One of our franchisees had set up a reading program in collaboration with the local library when she opened the store,” Barnes remembers. “A certain amount of books read would give you a free cup of Yumz.”
Yumz is expanding at a steady pace throughout the United States. “I don’t know that we’ll be the biggest,” Barnes notes. “But we try to make sure that each one of our stores is successful. We give each one of our franchisees the help and training they need to succeed.” The company already has commitments to open 45 new franchise stores by the end of 2013 and should reach 100 stores by next year.