So Very CherryBerry.
According to counsel of George Bernard Shaw, “the greatest” service one could ever render to any nation or even the world-at-large “is to bring up a family.” An appropriate corollary may be that the greatest service a business can render is to bring families together. Such is the goal driving growth of a hugely successful franchise enterprise founded by a husband and wife team who once served as police officers in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Together, they have redefined what it means “to protect and serve” – in this case, service comes in a blend of frosty flavors to be savored by consumers and entrepreneurs alike.
A little more than three years ago, Dallas and Robyn Jones struggled with a quandary. As a married couple and devoted parents of five children, equally devoted to serving the community of Tulsa through their work as police officers, Dallas and Robyn received unfortunate news that city budget problems would soon prompt the layoff of professionals in the police force. Unsure of what they might do to cope, but determined to continue providing for their family through some means, they began to explore different business models. With a tenacious entrepreneurial spirit their efforts ultimately led to the launching of a business that has quite literally blasted off in a way so few could have ever anticipated.
Fred Sabatini, the Chief Operating Officer of a franchise featuring frozen deliciousness brilliantly branded as CherryBerry, shares the very merry story. “Robyn and Dallas had taken a vacation and were looking into what types of business they might start when some friends had recommended that they look into the frozen yogurt industry,” explains Sabatini. “They visited a few places and liked what they saw, but they also believed something was missing at all of those places… and that they could do it better.”
Sabatini says the couple noticed that at one shop, the clientele might be comprised of older adults, while at another location; customers would be comprised by a younger composite. From the Jones’ perspective, these environments needed to be modified in such a way to bring different generations together, to bring families together for an experience that wasn’t simply about frozen yogurt, but fostering fellowship of families. To be sure, there wasn’t anything remotely casual in their considerations. As police officers, the Jones knew too well what calamitous consequences often occur through the fracturing of family culture. As much as they were compelled to create a business by opening a self-serve, frozen yogurt café, they put measurable care in crafting an environment that uniquely catered to families coming together.
In describing the CherryBerry culture, Sabatini refers to it as something of a cross between Walt Disney World and the family den. “There is lots of energy, happiness, fun, smiles and bright colors, but at the same time, customers can feel like they’re sitting in a living room den… playing games together, watching TV together, and yes, actually ‘talking’ together! CherryBerry is a place where young children and the young-at-heart of all ages have a place to connect!”
Robyn Jones actually designed the interior of the first CherryBerry located in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. The space was complemented by customized-colored floor tiles, brightly colored, oversized couches and spacious seating and walls graced by equally oversized television screens where sporting events and children’s programming could easily be viewed. And departing from previous police practices, loitering was encouraged here.
That first location generated more than $700,000 in revenue in its first year. The Jones earned more income than they ever had before, and were fully content to maintain a one-shop operation, yet news of their success had begun to spread.
They were soon approached by other police officers, as well as family, friends and investment interests. As much as I scream, you scream and we all scream for ice cream, this frozen yogurt self-serve brand exacted equally excessive exclamations and want of inclusion, all of which, combined to prompt the Jones to develop a franchising model that has met with resounding success.
They opened six units in 2010, but by the end of 2011, this expanded to encompass more than thirty locations. Today, an astounding feat by any measure, there are more than 130 locations throughout the world while another 180 are under contract for development- a true, blue CherryBerry bonanza.
A CherryBerry Opportunity
In creating a family place complemented by flavor profiles so alluring to all generations of consumers, Sabatini says the company has spared no effort to develop a business model equally alluring to entrepreneurs. In fact, since customers ultimately serve themselves through the varied dispensers of flavored frozen yogurt, he says business operations couldn’t get much simpler. The company has partnered with the frozen yogurt manufacturer known as Honey Hill. Based in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Honey Hill has long been distinguished for having the highest quality in serving some of the sweetest sensations in a wide-range of frozen yogurt varieties that are the “real deal” in a healthy, full-dairy, probiotics alternative as opposed to those operations that rely on powdered-varieties of less quality and less taste.
The company sources frozen yogurt machines from The Taylor Company, a long-respected and leading provider of engineered innovations that aid the food service industry throughout the world. CherryBerry corporate also maintains the full composite of the colorful fixtures and materials necessary to provide a turnkey business solution once a site has been located.
Flexibility is a key component of the franchising model; whether an entrepreneur is interested in a single store location, multi-unit location or purchasing the rights to develop an entire geographic region the CherryBerry model is ready to go! Depending upon the size of the area an entrepreneur wants to develop the investment can be as low as $219 thousand dollars. Twenty-three states have been purchased in the past 12 months but there are still prime states available Sabatini says the company looks to connect with people who have backgrounds in business. The person could have franchising experience, retired from another job or simply interested in launching a new business, as long as the candidate is coachable and capable of following the operational systems CherryBerry employs, the candidate could thrive in the business.
The process begins with call to Cherry Berry Corporate or online inquiry through their website at www.cherryberryyogurtbar.com.
A follow-up meeting takes place in Tulsa where candidates have an opportunity to become familiar with the corporate staff and simple operations. Once contracts are in place, the new owner undergoes training at CherryBerry University where every aspect of operation is covered. Again, since the yogurt bar functions as a self-serve, Sabatini says most of the business processes are a matter of customer service and maintaining cleanliness. CherryBerry is literally a “poster-child” for franchising states Sabatini as he quotes Napoleon Hill ”For a business to be successful there must be a need or want for it in the market place and then it must be profitable, simple and duplicatable.” He says CherryBerry scores a homerun on all fronts.
CherryBerry assists candidates with site selection as well as build-out of locations, serving as a liaison between the location owner and general contractor. Corporate staff is available for assistance at any time in the process, and are on hand to provide help throughout the grand opening of any location.
Franchisees also benefit from ongoing marketing and advertising support, owners are furnished with new marketing kits every season as well as virtual support through the auspices of the brand’s online presence, individualized web pages and a fully integrated mobile site.
Frozen yogurt may be CherryBerry’s fame, but there’s a lot of technology backing up their efficiencies too. The company has invested in financial data mining technology that allows store owners to rapidly assess key financial metrics of their own location and compare/contrast that with other locations as well as with the industry as a whole. The technology helps identify deficiencies that can be responded to quickly in order to maximize profitability and identify best practices. Other technological investments are being made in the deployment of Social Media tracking software which allows owners to tap into virtually thousands of “secret shoppers” only the beauty is they aren’t secret, they’re real! The company is also rolling out creative TV spots that owners can customize for their local markets.
Owners can routinely have their operational practices assessed through CherryBerry Check-Ups. Corporate also hosts an All Owner Success Conference once a year to pull together all the top performers in one place at one time. The event is one of the best in the industry as owners from all over the world learn, socialize and visit with vendors
In the immediate future, Sabatini says the CherryBerry team is fully engaged in overseeing development of the expanding franchise. Some of that success has been achieved by opening in markets formerly underserved such as North and South Dakota. As Sabatini says, “Even if it gets cold in those areas, there are still plenty of people who appreciate frozen yogurt and families that want to take their kids out for a treat.”
That’s not just an American want either. CherryBerry has expanded to the Middle East, with openings slated in places like Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Dubai where three Cherry Berry yogurt bars are under construction. One will open at Dubai’s famed shopping mall which is known as the largest in the world.
As business expansion rolls along, so too is an entirely new offering in a sort of CherryBerry Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang. Actually a full-sized refrigerated-semi adapted into a colorful frozen yogurt machine on wheels, dispensers have been embedded on the truck’s sides and Sabatini says the company is testing out the potential of these on-the-go operations. CherryBerry currently maintains two such mobile units, and Sabatini says when the trucks have arrived at football games or the recent Tulsa State Fair, they proved to be very popular with kids as well as all others. This year will mark the first full year of their operation, but Sabatini believes with the potential of pulling up for special events at schools or traveling to work places where employers might treat staff to a special CherryBerry kind-of-day, the mobile units have potential to drive further success.
As an industry, frozen yogurt emerged on the scene in the 1980s and went on to capture almost ten percent of the dessert market. Those numbers started to decline in the 90s until 2003. With greater societal focus on health and dietary nutrition, frozen yogurt has become increasingly popular over the last decade. Annual sales now figure to some $200 million and analysts anticipate that number to rise.
By continuing to create environments that focus on family fellowship, by constantly monitoring their performance while developing new flavor profiles, Sabatini says CherryBerry is poised for greater growth and brand recognition.
“Our slogan is ‘Best on Planet,’ and that’s a bold statement, but we really want to be the best frozen yogurt business on the planet,” says Sabatini. “We have the best partners, the best business model, the best corporate staff and development team, and we’re poised to compete with anybody out there.”
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