7 Ways to Make Sales at Your Frozen Yogurt Shop SkyrocketRide this mega-trend for all it’s worth with these sales and marketing tips for the moment.
The frozen dessert with the hip millennial hashtag (#froyo) is the keystone of an industry that, like the persistent battery-powered bunny, just keeps on going.
Indeed, the frozen yogurt industry appears to be enjoying a resurgence. Annual sales increased 21 percent between 2008 and 2013, significantly outpacing the ice cream industry, according to one source. What’s more, a survey from 16 Handles, a New York-based frozen yogurt brand, found that 79 percent of customers preferred froyo to ice cream, and 44 percent said they would give up ice cream for a month before they’d give up froyo.
So what can you do to keep your shop on top amid high competition and ever-changing consumer tastes?
Here are seven cool and refreshing ideas to try.
1. Introduce health-centric flavors, toppings and ingredients
Just as an increasing number of restaurants are adjusting their marketing strategies and menus to reflect their customers’ health, ethical and environmental concerns, froyo brands are answering the call as well.
Menchie’s, one of the world’s biggest froyo brands, claims the milk it uses comes from “healthy, California, happy cows,” CEO Amit Kleinberger told Entrepreneur magazine.
Since many customers eat frozen yogurt because they believe it’s healthier than ice cream, it’s important to offer plenty of healthy-conscious choices, like dairy-free sorbet or fruit-based flavors. Toppings shouldn’t be limited to sugary cookie crumbles and Gummi Bears, either; a wide assortment that includes granola here, a fruit cocktail there, and perhaps some sugar-free chocolate syrup is sure to please all comers.
2. Cultivate a coffeehouse atmosphere
Going out for a treat should feel like a fun outing, an experience for the whole family. You might not serve coffee, but your customers should feel like they’re sitting in a coffeehouse, not an outdated ice cream parlor.
For Daniel Kim, CEO of Red Mango, a Dallas-based froyo chain, designing the ideal modern froyo store meant investing in high-end furniture, Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs. “We’re trying to create the coffeehouse environment,” Kim told FranchiseHelp. “We’re creating an ambiance, a point of relaxation, a meeting place.” Those meeting places even feature live music on occasion.
3. Offer yogurt smoothies and other froyo hybrid items
Froyo is an industry that loves quirky catchphrases and word mashups. Think Frookies! They’re like the Chipwiches of yore, only the filling is frozen yogurt instead of ice cream.
Smoothies, too, are a natural bonus offering if you can invest in a good blender and have the time and manpower to blend made-to-order smoothies.
Menu diversification is important — and can be a lot of fun — but experts caution against veering too far off the original mission. “It’s really not so much about doing things to remain current, but rather, doing things to really understand your target market,” Dan Doromal, director of marketing for Argosy Foodservice,told Dessert Professional magazine.
4. Get right with the community
In the busy, activity-filled world of the average American family, there is one constant: Eating should be easy. Parents shouldn’t have to search high and low for tasty, healthy dessert alternatives for their children. Don’t make them come to you; instead, go to them!
How? By making yourself very visible in your neighborhood. A good start is hooking up with local schools for fundraisers. You could offer to sell your product at a booth at a school event or donate a portion of one day’s proceeds to the school, for example. Another avenue to explore is sponsorship. Advertising at local run/walk events or triathlons is a great way to attract your target market.
Theme nights related to community events can bring in the crowds. If your town is about to have an influx of Comic-Con visitors, for example, you can decorate your shop with superhero or sci-fi memorabilia and advertise a “Cosplayers Night” in trade magazines and websites.
5. Embrace discount sites and apps
Since you own a family-oriented business, you probably know that many of your customers are parents on a budget and looking for good deals. Embracing daily deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial can inspire them to come to you first. Nowadays, small business owners have a large array of sites to choose from, some laser-focused on particular industries and others focusing on a common product.
If you’re looking for savings on your own purchasing — for supplies, equipment, Web design, accounting, etc. — so you can pass along the savings to your customers, the deal site AppSumo is worth checking out, and an app called Orderly makes all those purchases much simpler to manage.
6. Offer contests — especially bizarre, memorable ones
“What would you do for a Klondike bar?” went the old ice-cream treat jingle. You might just think of that classic TV ad as another earworm of your childhood, but it asks a good question.
What would your customers do for frozen yogurt?
Getting creative with contests can get them excited. Invite them to “earn” freebies and perks with gimmicks as bizarre and hilarious as you can dream up. There’s no better example than Mr. Yogato, a Washington, D.C., froyo shop that has a board listing 10 outrageous tasks customers can perform for various rewards. It’s all part of the shop’s mission to go all in when it comes to “fun and goofiness,” according to its website.
7. Reward customers for their loyalty
It’s no coincidence that there are so many froyo shops on or near college campuses; yours might even be one of them. But most of those students are on a budget, and they don’t want froyo to be one of their biggest expenses (after textbooks, of course). Solution? Rewards!
If you don’t already offer a points or punch card program, it’s time to start. Purchasing a POS system that includes order tracking and points calculations is essential. So is developing a system that personalizes the customer’s experiences.
If you go with a points system, you can take inspiration from Canada-based international chain Yogen Früz, where customers start off with 500 points just for joining and can add points according to how much money they spend. Once they rack up 5,000 points, they get free froyo. At sweetFrog, based in Richmond, Virginia, customers get 12 ounces of free froyo after 10 visits.
Free froyo — now that would keep the old battery-powered bunny hopping.