Business Overview

Frozen yogurt businesses can offer anything from smoothies to parfaits with an infinite amount of toppings and flavor combinations. A frozen yogurt business may also offer specialty drinks, such as gourmet coffee or Italian sodas.

Who is this business right for?

Owners should have experience both with making and selling frozen yogurt. A specialty recipe and production methods ensure customers get a quality product. Owners should also have a good idea of the specialty flavors and toppings customers want. One neighborhood may want the classics, such as strawberry, cherry, and chocolate. Other neighborhoods may want to see more inventive flavors, such as bacon or churro.

What happens during a typical day at a frozen yogurt business?

To entice customers and keep them coming back, an owner should focus on the following daily activities:

  • Ordering ingredients and non-food supplies
  • Mapping out a budget
  • Providing customer service
  • Scheduling employees
  • Updating company website
  • Maintaining web presence
  • Overseeing quality control

What is the target market?

The best client is someone who lives close to you, so you can develop a core base of customers who come to depend on your menu. Your clientele don’t necessarily need to be health nuts, but they may be people who are either watching their weight or looking to make more conscientious choices about their eating habits.   

How does a frozen yogurt business make money?

Owners must set the prices for each menu item to cover business expenses and create a profit margin. People who are looking for fancy frozen yogurt are willing to pay a little more for quality flavors. Your prices will have to factor in all of the costs of the business (not just the cost of the ingredients.)

What is the growth potential for a frozen yogurt business?

A frozen yogurt business has a lot of room for growth, but certain areas may be difficult to expand in. For example, a market like Los Angeles is saturated with a variety of specialty frozen yogurt businesses. However, businesses can penetrate even the most saturated market by offering an experience customers can’t find anywhere else. This may be through new flavors, incredible customer service, or even through fun decorations.

Getting Started

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful frozen yogurt business?

Anyone hoping to get started in this business should have a decent amount of experience working in different positions in food service. This should include both customer service roles, as well as management. Entrepreneurs should also have a good idea of what their competitors are offerings, so they can highlight exactly why potential customers should switch their allegiance.

What are the costs involved in opening a frozen yogurt business?

When it comes to equipment, you’ll need an industrial mixer, which can cost up to $15,000. A cash register can cost up to $1,000, and a display case can cost up to $7,000. A set of tables and chairs can run anywhere from $200 to $800. If you choose to franchise a company, such as Menchie's, you can expect to pay about $375,000 total. This covers everything though, and includes ongoing advertising benefits from the parent company for as long as you're open.

What are the steps to start a frozen yogurt business?

Once you're ready to start your frozen yogurt business, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:

STEP 1: Plan your Business

A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are:

  • What are the initial costs?
  • Who is your target market?
  • How long it will take you to break even?
  • What will you name your business?

Choosing the right name is very important. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.

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STEP 2. Form a legal entity

Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your security guard company is sued. Consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.

STEP 3. Register for taxes

You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.

STEP 4. Open a business bank account

Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.

STEP 5. Set up business accounting

Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.

STEP 6. Obtain necessary permits and licenses

Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.

STEP 7. Get Business Insurance

Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.

STEP 8. Define your brand.

Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.

STEP 9. Establish your Web Presence

A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.

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Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.

Where can I find a business mentor?

One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.

Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.

What are some insider tips for jump starting a frozen yogurt business?

Consistency is one of the first things to master when it comes to frozen yogurt. Your menu items should taste exactly the same no matter when they're ordered. Liquid mix (as opposed to dry) is generally the best way to ensure consistency.

Innovation is normally the second thing to consider. You’re looking at the popular flavors of today, and how you can incorporate them into your business. For example, when Starbucks introduces a new product like the Unicorn Frappucino, you should look for ways to work in your own similar offering to capitalize on the craze. Consider offering unlimited free samples as a way to get people interested in your flavors, and never let a customer complaint go unanswered (either in person or online).

Growing Your Business

How to promote & market a frozen yogurt business

Word of mouth will definitely be a major factor in how successful you are, but part of your success is also tied up in the location you choose. Being in a heavily trafficked part of the neighborhood will help immensely. Hold a major party for your Grand Opening, and take the time to get to know the people around you. Their requests will determine how you conduct your promotions and marketing.

You can also do standard advertising, such as internet, print, or television advertising. Keep your social media pages up to date, and give people incentives for following you on Facebook or Instagram. Post fun pictures, and keep people updated about any specials and discounts you're offering.

Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.

How to keep customers coming back

Attracting people is rooted in just how delicious your product is. Check out your competition and determine what you can do differently to keep people coming back. Constantly seek customer feedback, and respond to the most pressing concerns — whether they’re about the food or not. Terrible or even inconsistent service from employees will kill a new business quickly.

How and when to build a team

You’ll want to build a team well before you’ve opened the store. Ideally, you’ll want employees who can stick with you for the long-term, but depending on where you are and the wages you offer, this can be a tall order. Look for people who genuinely enjoy customer service, and who want to make each visit a special experience.

Legal Considerations

State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a Eco tour business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.

Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

In addition, certain local licensing or regulatory requirements may apply. For more information about local licenses and permits:

Maintain Personal Asset Protection

Don’t think that just forming an LLC, or any other type of business, will save your personal assets in case of a lawsuit or other matter by itself.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

Two of the simplest steps that will protect your business, and yourself, are to:

Open a business bank account

  • This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.

  • It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.

Get a business credit card

  • This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
  • It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
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To learn more about maintaining your LLC's corporate veil, read our guide and protect your personal assets.

Certificate of Occupancy

A frozen yogurt business is generally run out of a storefront. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO).  A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.

  • If you plan to lease a location:
    • It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
    • Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a frozen yogurt business.
    • After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
  • If you plan to purchase or build a location:
    • You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
    • Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your frozen yogurt business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.

Food Regulations

When selling food, you will need licensing from a local health department; all establishments serving food are required to pass a health inspection. Tips for faring well on a health inspections

There are federal regulations regarding what can and cannot be added to, sold as, and processed with food. Attached is a resource from the Food and Drug Administration detailing the process of starting a food business: How to Start a Food Business

Earning Potential

How much can you charge customers?

Typically, you can charge customers about three or four times the cost of the ingredients. So if one frozen yogurt serving costs $0.50, then you can charge the buyer around $2. If you’re in the major cities like LA or NYC, then you can likely charge closer to $4 or $5. You can also charge by the weight, which will include both the frozen yogurt and the toppings.

What are the ongoing expenses for a frozen yogurt business?

Those opening their own frozen yogurt business may have to budget for the following expenses:

  • Equipment repairs
  • Employee wages
  • Permit renewal
  • Supplies/ingredients

How much profit can a frozen yogurt business make?

Frozen yogurt had a revenue of $1.8 billion in 2014, and many people actually prefer this product over ice cream or gelato. Your profits are made up of the costs left over after you purchase ingredients and pay your employees. The exact amount you make will have to do with how well your run your business. Normally, about ⅔ of the revenue you make will be spent on ingredients and wages. Your leftover funds will be put toward rent costs and purchasing new equipment. If you sell 50,000 servings of frozen yogurt throughout the year at $3, then you can expect there to be about $50,000 to go towards rent and equipment.

How can you make your business more profitable?

Consider offering gourmet coffee to your customers, or setting up your own stand or food truck at different events (e.g., farmers markets, sports games, etc.) You can also offer specialty cakes, smoothies or pastries as well. Also, plenty of kids would love to use your space for their birthday party, so consider offering packages for parents looking for a unique gift for their children.

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