6 Types of Customers at Your Frozen Dessert Shop

Understanding your customers will help you serve them better — and boost your business.
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Who’s shopping at your ice cream or frozen yogurt store? Knowing this will help your business. (Photo: Hsiun/Shutterstock)

It’s a hot summer day and the line at your ice cream or frozen yogurt shop is long. The customers are all after the same thing: a cold, sweet treat.

But they’re not all the same.

There’s the woman who’s been waiting in line for 15 minutes and still hasn’t figured out what flavor she wants, for instance, and the man with the sweet tooth who loves your self-serve setup so he can sample every flavor in the store and every topping on your counter.

Understanding what drives your customers can translate to more repeat business, higher revenue and a more solid future for your shop.

Here are six types of customers you might encounter.

The sampler

Before you owned a business you were probably on the other side of that counter at least few times, so you’ve likely witnessed this type in action. She’s been waiting in line, chatting with a friend, and now that it’s her turn to order she realizes — to your server’s dismay — that she can’t decide what flavor she wants. So can she please try a sample?

Nah, that one’s no good, this one’s too sweet, the next one’s too salty, too rich, too chocolatey, not chocolatey enough…you know what, how about another taste of the first one?

The Sampler might annoy fellow customers, but she’s actually an asset to you. Here’s why: She’s now familiar with your offerings and can recommend certain flavors — including your specials and limited-time products — to others.

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Coupon-loving customers can help you market your business. (Photo: weedezign/Shutterstock)

The couponer

A family of seven walks in, looking mighty hungry. They make their selections, and Dad reaches into his pocket. But it’s not cash or credit he’s reaching for. It’s his phone. “Just a minute while I find that Groupon deal…”

Kids eat free. And you’ve just gone from a party of seven bill to a party of two.

Fret not. While couponers might scrimp and save at each transaction, they often buy more frequently. And with the advent of social media, “shared” coupons are now more than a loyalty incentive or revenue generator — they’re a way for customers to market your business for you.

Since customers can earn rewards from sharing your coupon with others, and those others can earn rewards…you get the idea.

Social coupons might not be right for every store or situation, but used properly, they could be profitable for you.

The chatterbox

Running a small business often means you get to talk to people. A lot. Usually, this is just part of doing business, not to mention that engaging with customers is a great way to make them feel welcome and respected. But what you don’t want is for the chatty customer to negatively impact others who are waiting.

Steve Curtin, a business consultant and author of “Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary,” said there are several ways to manage conversations and still keep the line moving. They include:

  • Express genuine interest in the customer. When employees initiate the dialogue, besides appearing interested and engaged, they establish control of the conversation. Doing so may include asking a question such as, “How is your day going?” Most customers will respond appropriately with a brief reply.
  • Summarize the conversation by repeating back the customer’s order. Aside from reassuring customers, this provides a subtle cue that the exchange is winding down. Effective restaurant servers do this well.
  • Conclude by asking a question such as, “Will there be anything else?” It may be helpful to offer scripting to your employees so they don’t sound dismissive. And whatever you do, never say “Next?” to conclude a conversation.
  • Offer a friendly close. Customers who aren’t aware of the delay they’re causing to other customers sometimes need a gentle reminder. A genuine “It’s been a pleasure speaking with you” or “Thank you for coming in today” often does the trick.
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Sometimes, simple does the trick. (Photo: glebTv/Shutterstock)

The Simple Simon

Can you guess the most popular ice cream flavor? It’s not rocky road, or cookies ‘n’ cream, or mint chocolate chip. That honor, despite all the creative combinations and gourmet upgrades ice cream and frozen yogurt have undergone, still goes to vanilla.

There will always be plenty of customers who want the basics. And guess what? There’s nothing wrong with that. While upselling might still work, in all likelihood, Simple Simon just wants what he wants.

The health nut

Attention, froyo shop owners: This one’s for you. The general perception of frozen yogurt is that it’s better for you than ice cream, so many of your customers are likely looking for a healthy-ish treat.

You’ve probably already met them: the couple heading home from spin class, the gluten-free kindergartner whose parents struggle to find sensible dessert options for him, the ladies from the senior center trying to watch their cholesterol. Let them know they’ve come to the right place!

Have plenty of healthier toppings on offer, such as fruit and nuts, and maybe some sugar-free chocolate syrup, alongside the M&Ms and crushed Oreos. Make sure you’ve diversified your yogurt varieties, too: gluten-free, sugar-free, low-fat, fat-free, maybe even dairy-free.

Long lines can make people cranky, especially when they haven’t had their ice cream yet. (Photo: lmfoto/Shutterstock)

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Handing out samples or freebies can help pacify a demanding customer. (Photo: praphab louilarpprasert/Shutterstock)

The grouch

“My spoon is dirty.” “You call this a double scoop?” “This table needs to be cleaned.” “Why is this line taking so long?”

One of these days, you will find yourself overwhelmed by demanding customers. Curtin offers tips for times when simple courtesy just isn’t working.

  • Acknowledge the customer. Make eye contact and nod. A customer may feel anxious if you don’t acknowledge his presence, especially if other customers are also waiting.
  • Smile. Customers can detect tension in your body language. Saying “I’ll be with you in just a minute” with a serious or critical expression on your face sends a far different message than if the same words were said through a smile.
  • Communicate early and often. Most customers will understand delays and other issues if there is adequate communication.
  • Hand out samples or freebies. Often, when customers wait in long lines, they feel helpless and taken for granted. Freebies will help them feel recognized and appreciated.
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