Lighter in texture and containing fewer calories, soft-serve frozen yogurt is an alternative to ice cream, sorbet or gelato. This treat can be bought from grocery stores, some restaurants or specialty shops. Yogurt shops focus on selling soft-serve frozen yogurt along with various toppings and mix-ins, plus items such as soft-serve frozen yogurt shakes and smoothies. If you are looking to start a food business, opening a frozen yogurt shop may be the perfect venture.
Steps for Starting Soft-Serve Frozen Yogurt Business
Differentiate your frozen yogurt business. Even if there are no other soft-serve yogurt businesses in town, you need a selling angle to get customers in the door–otherwise they can just go to the supermarket and get frozen yogurt. For example, you can sell organic, vegan or gluten-free frozen yogurt, or offer toppings and mix-ins that are out of the ordinary.
Register the health and retail permits required to open a food business in your area. Depending on where you live, you may need an assumed name certificate, sales tax permit, food manager certification, food-handler permits or a food enterprise license. Contact your state’s health department and small business development center to find out what business documentation you need.
Pick at least one venue to sell your soft-serve frozen yogurt. Aside from a brick-and-mortar shop, which is the most expensive option, you can operate your business from a food cart, vending truck or trailer. Another option is to rent a spot in a shopping mall food court.
Develop a menu of items to sell. Your featured product will be frozen yogurt, typically vanilla-flavored, with the option for customers to add toppings, such as honey, granola, candies, fruit, flavored syrups, sprinkles or even edible flower petals. In addition, you can sell shakes, parfaits and smoothies made from your frozen yogurt.
Purchase a commercial soft-serve frozen yogurt machine from such supplier as Taylor Company, Stoelting or Acana Northeast. A machine made for home or casual use won’t hold up to the demands of your business. If your yogurt shop is located in a large storefront or you plan to offer several flavors, buy more than one machine.
Buy wholesale ingredients and supplies, such as cups, napkins and spoons, from a restaurant supply distributor. You can save money on equipment and furniture by browsing print and online-classified ads or buying quality, used items. Whenever possible, purchase the toppings and ingredients for your frozen yogurt locally to save on transportation costs.
Offer customers the option to buy a take-out container of frozen yogurt. Some people won’t have time to stop and eat their yogurt right in your shop, while others will simply want to buy some frozen yogurt to take home. You can likely purchase ice cream containers of various sizes to package to-go orders from the same supplier you use for your napkins, cups and spoons.
Earn extra money throughout the year by selling frozen yogurt at public and private events. You can become a vendor at local fairs, flea markets, farmers markets or festivals, or sell it at children’s parties and other events. Network with event planners, event centers and members of play groups in your town to gain such clients.
Promote your soft-serve frozen yogurt business. Make use of online social networks and social coupon sites, especially if your yogurt business will be run from a mobile food unit. You can also launch a promotional blog or website, sponsor family events throughout your city or place coupons and fliers in complementary businesses, such as children’s play centers, children’s clothing stores or movie theaters.