How to: Starting a self-serve frozen yogurt business / shop. Part 1

How to:  Starting a self-serve frozen yogurt business / shop.  Part 1

Frozen yogurt is tasty, healthy, and also a desert, or is it dessert?  Just in case you don’t know, desserts have been around a couple thousand years (so have deserts) and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.  So, with people more health conscious than ever, why not make it froyo?  With live cultures, potential for organics, no sugar added and low/nonfat options – it’s the right choice.  Opening a franchise frozen yogurt store or even your own concept is a great choice too, as long as you do your homework and follow a few proven techniques to ensure you end up successful.  We have been researching frozen yogurt franchises and ma and pops for years at the frozen yogurt review, and here is what we feel to be the most important “ingredients” to owning a successful self-serve location:


–          Great tasting product (duh, but you’d be surprised! – or maybe not?)

–          Great location (we will give tips for finding good spots below)

–          Good, no, GREAT atmosphere!

–          Mediocre employees…NOOOT…Great Employees!  (By the way, it’s your responsibility to train them to be great!  We will go over that too if you can read that far)

–          Um, social media and marketing, maybe?  Depends on your intentions, and just how GREAT you are!  We will also make suggestions – there are lots of free tips to succeed that worked great for Steve Jobs!  Think newspapers, magazines, etc.  Why not flatter an unknowing columnist and con, I mean convince them into writing an article on you!


So, this is a good place to start, we will go over these topics in paragraph form in order of bullet.  At the end of it all we will go into even more detail on what and where to you will actually need in the store.  These are just logistics and not as important as the concept, or “foundation”.

Great tasting frozen yogurt product:

Pretty self-explanatory, but cannot be said enough!  Test as many different brands as you can, and pick one with great flavors, and plenty of them.  You want the company to have at least 10 good flavors year round and then a variety of sorbets, seasonal, and low/nonfat and NSA (no sugar added) options.  You also want to make sure the company has good distribution to your store so that you are not let down and run out of product.   Good consistency is produced by good yogurt, a machine no matter what brand should produce good yogurt if the settings are correct.  If the frozen yogurt is too icy it’s usually the setting on the soft serve machine, not the machine itself, or it could be bad product with no stabilizers or poor content.   Anyways, don’t get a bad tasting yogurt in your store that leaves people with a bad aftertaste.

Great location:

The better the location, the more visibility, the more foot traffic, the more sales.  Here are some good tips:  Make sure the sign is visible from the street, and if it’s a 4 way intersection make sure you are able to have a visible sign from each position a car will be stopped (all 4 directions, also make sure the sign portrays that you are frozen yogurt store).  Be close to schools!  Don’t underestimate the desire and manipulative ability of children; they will get their parents to take them for frozen yogurt after school or after soccer practice.  High school kids will also want to go get a snack after school and hang out.  Also make sure if possible that you are close to restaurants, movie theaters, nice places to walk, business parks, and high traffic areas.  Do research to find the closest competition – make sure you have a plan for getting people to come to your store instead of theirs – or, pick another spot.  If it doesn’t make sense to you it sure won’t make sense to them.  Also, you should be able to get a couple months free rent on your lease – get a commercial broker to put a proposal together for you, remember the leasing agent for the space is required to put the land lords best interest before yours!   They should also help with build out costs.

Great atmosphere:

Think hard about how you want your frozen yogurt shop to “feel”.  Get a clear “feeling” in your mind prior to starting anything else.  Hold onto this “feeling” and radiate it in to every decision you make, tell people who you think don’t even care – this creates passion – the best artwork is always done from passion.  Opening a frozen yogurt shop should be fun, and it will be successful.   Make sure all of your furniture, colors, store layout, and design all go together and work in accordance with your theme “feel”.  When everything and everyone is working together in your store it will create an energy that will attract people back to your business, this force is powerful, do not neglect the force!  Each detail should be thought out and not overlooked.  Also, we recommend hiring an architect, or designer, or contractor who has done a frozen yogurt shop before.  They understand how to build out the walls correctly to reach through, get the place set up with the right electrical, air flow, etc.

Great Employees:

Make sure your employees get the “feeling”.  Hire people with passion, who love their job, and who like people.  They will need to interact with people, and if they are happy and give off good vibes then that’s the first thing your customers will notice.  Some people will never have had self-serve frozen yogurt before and will look at all the machines and be thinking in their head “WTF, what am I supposed to do?”  Have your employees ask people if they have been there before, show them where the sample cups are, encourage them to try the flavors, and explain they pay per ounce and get yogurt then add their own toppings.  Make it fun!  Everyone should be greeted.  Also make sure you have enough people so that if someone is cutting fruit, or filling the machines with product, someone is still out front to cashier and greet.  It’s worth it!  Be the frozen yogurt store in the pictures with lines to the curb; don’t just expect to have people casually come in every half hour.   Make sure your employees also understand the value of cleanliness.

Social Media, Marketing, etc:

Facebook page?  Absolutely, it’s free and people will like you, then you can promote deals, new flavors and get people talking about your store.  Do not overlook this simple tool.  Google listing, good places, do we really even have to say it!?!   I went to get a haircut 2 months ago and wanted to call earlier this week to check the hours and couldn’t find their number on the internet, are you kidding!!!  Guess what I did, Google mapped from my phone the next closest place and went there.   Another great idea, get the local newspaper or magazine to feature your store and do a story on you.  People love frozen yogurt, take advantage of it, if you’re the first self-serve store in town get on the phone and pimp yourself out!  They will do a story on it.  Their alternative is to try to make up a story on the local homeless celebrity…  Twitter also works.  Make sure you are listed and utilizing all available free social media and news.  Do deals, and put them on your Facebook page.  If you have a local high school or college then do a mascot theme night, or a sorority night with giveaways and specials.  One of the local frozen yogurt shops does sorority nights and has a lot of success.  Another shop offers delivery on their yogurt!  That is the ultimate treat to college stoners (sorry, but it’s true).

After you have the concept, have the passion, and are fired up to go you need to do the following:

Get a lease on a great spot, get a great build out, get good new machines (service, warrantee, etc.) try to save some money on the machines, there are alternatives out there now and this is a big expense (donper, forte equipment, spaceman usa) – don’t use an import company like palm island trading, you don’t want to get left high and dry with nowhere to get parts or service.  You can save up to $50,000 on soft serve equipment.  Same with refrigerators, topping bar and dispensers, point of sale equipment, etc. (, restaurant depot, and many more)   Get a great logo and name for your store that can be branded, loved, and recognized.  Form an LLC, corporation, or DBA if already have one.  Find the product, have the sales reps help you find other things you need like cups, spoons, toppings, fruit.  If you have a big local distributor like Sysco or US Foods contact them.  They should be able to supply a good portion of your needs and even tell you things you didn’t think of.  Hire someone to make a website.  You can get a good one made by companies like inMotion hosting for a good price.  Or make one on word press (like this site).  Badabing-badaboom!  If you have the passion and can follow some proven methods you are ready to rumba!  Oh yeah, you might need some cash too :)

53 thoughts on “How to: Starting a self-serve frozen yogurt business / shop. Part 1

  1. Hello,

    This is a very interesting article. I’m actually developing a new brand of frozen yogurt shops my self. I was wondering if I could reach the author of this article.

    Thank you in advance,

    0030 6970 999 720

  2. Hi I am interested in starting a frozen yogurt shop in Panama. How do I figure out what is the best yogurt and equipment on the market without having to be part of a franchise?

  3. Honey Hill Farms frozen yogurt offers “become a Yogologist” a class to help new frozen yogurt shops help get started or for exisiting shops who want to see the newest trends, etc. No cost! and no obligation, spending a day with the Honey Hill Farms’ owners – one on one. For more information, contact or sign-up @ Call 800-445-2715 or youtube

  4. We are leader in opening yogurt shops in the World with over 383 stores opened and counting!

    Compass Yogurt is a full-service consulting company specializing in equipment, design, training and products for the yogurt industry. We offer a variety of innovative, proven training and development tools. Let our experience launch your venture to success, profitability and a rapid return on your investment.

  5. Hello,
    I wanted to know where do most frozen yogurt store’s get their furniture from?? I have a shop in Arizona and bought some furniture from IKEA, but it’s not as cool as I’m looking for. Can’t seem to find the website or store to get it!? Thanks!

  6. Hello I want to open up my own frozen yogurt shop but I don’t know where to start I need help on where to buy or rent yogurt machines, mixers for favors, supplies for the shop and furniture for the shop I have been read online on how to start a small business but I feel a little lost lol

    • Hi Linda-
      Renting machines is not an option. You can lease, which is like financing, through a restaurant leasing agency. You should decide how many machines you want, if you want liquid or powder mix, and how much space your store will have and foot traffic.
      That is a good starting point.

  7. Hi,Tom,I would like to find out what is the better and healthier option powder or liquid mix? What companies would you recomend to try out for beginners?

  8. Great article. I just found your site today (Jan 16, 2013). I am wondering if there is going to be a Part 2 and beyond written anytime soon as my wife and I are looking into opening a frozen yogurt shop.

    Keep the great work on your site.

    There is lots here for me to review and digest.


  9. Hello there…
    I am looking to start my yogurt business in the Florida area. I have been approach by a distributor who suggested I do not buy into a franchise because to his opinion that is a waist of money. He stated that I can purchase the yogurt mix from the same distributor as the same franchise I am looking for. He apparently can assist with finding location and distributor and maintenance of the machines. Taylor machines C723. He says he makes money in my purchase of machine rather than me paying 6% of royalty fees.

    He suggested I have the loan and money all approved. I have some money saved up but not totaling the amount to purchase the machines at 14500 and I need about 6!

    I feel a little lost in who I can contact to walk me through between the business plan and the bank. I just need a loan for the machines the rest will come from my savings etc. Any ideas… franchise vs doing it myself?

    Please help


    • Hi Ivy-

      While we will not place a value on franchise nor say whether you should use one or not, we will say that this information is true. You can buy the same product and machines etc with or without a franchise, and you will be able to save on start up costs, and not have to give royalties.

      6 Taylor C723 at $14,500 is $87,000- that is a large investment. If you are starting a new shop you will not be able to be approved for leasing this amount from any public lenders who offer equipment leasing, regardless of your credit. A bank could loan you money if you get a business loan. That is true. I would go speak with your local bank representatives to discuss a business loan. If you do not need a loan, then you don’t need a business plan. So I would suggest looking into purchasing less expensive machines, first, if you have all the other money you need. You can save up to $45,000 by looking at alternative machines. The Taylor C723 is a lower capacity counter top machine that is very similar to a Donper BH7450 model machine or a Forte SS100 – which are both considerably less money. I would suggest you speak with both of those companies. They both have commercially certified machines that are high quality and offer parts and support/service.

      Good luck!

      • Just found your site today. I am also looking into opening a yogurt shop, which will be the first in my country. Dilema between own concept or franchise. Thanks for this useful information :).
        I am also looking into info on the website:
        I am considering buying the “Frozen Yogurt University Start-Up Package” from the above site. Anybody familiar with this package?

    • Hi! Just a suggestion, as Im also looking to open up my own store. The least expensive way to go is opening your own store with your own brand. As far as financing, I would recomment that you contact SBA, Small Business Administration. Chamber of Commerce.Just google your nearest office. They offer loans with approximately 20% down and low interest rates. Having a very good/excellent credit score will make a difference. Good Luck!

  10. We currently own and operate a self-serve frozen yogurt shop in Oklahoma. WE LOVE it! The customers are always in a great mood! Who doesn’t enjoy dessert! It has been a great business for our family! We just found out my husband is transferring and we will be moving soon. We are considering selling the business, if you are interested, please email me.

    • Hello, I’m currently planning start a yogurt business. How much do you ask (price) for the business? I do located in Oklahoma too. Please, send me your requirement information to my email ( Thank you!

  11. Hi,
    First would like to say this is a great website not many people know where to go that is entering this business for advice.
    My family and I are about to open our first frozen self service yogurt shop in our town. We are shooting for May 1st opening. We are going between should bother to sell coffee now or should we wait for the winter months? We do have a local Duncan donuts that not too far from our location. Also please advise what should we do for our grand opening should we give away free cups of yogurt or should we just pass out small samples?. Also are there any othe suggestion you may have to drive business in? We want to be different from the franchise out here.

    Thank you

    • I would highly suggest attending the yogologist class from Honey Hill farms, they offer great advice about marketing! We are in the same boat (opening June 1) and as far as deciding what products to offer and when, I would suggest polling your potential customers and see what they want via facebook or a similar format.

  12. Hello I was wondering were we could get deco and built in around yoguart machine …. In other words the set up items that make it whimsical and fun looking for walls

  13. hey
    I would like to start a self serve frozen yogurt business. I own a pizza store close to univeristy and i have already found a good location with a lot of foot trafic close to few schools. i have the money and i have the location but i dont know how to start. where to find builder for the inside renvation and where to buy the machines or find frozen yogurt indegrents. can please someone help me. 905-921-7001 or

  14. I am starting an independent frozen yogurt shop with $150,000. I am trying to learn about how much to expect in build out costs if anyone can shed some light? I do not want to rely on contractor estimates alone.

  15. I’m currently planning start a yogurt business. I do located in Puerto Rico US. I am lookingfor supplies for yogurt and yogurt bar ( Thank you! 787-528-3344

  16. Very Interesting Article. I am planning to open in Bangalore, India. Kindly assist me regarding the quality of products and whom to contact in India including machinery.
    Contact me on 00965-66907177


  17. I’m looking into an indoor mall food court location for a self-serve yogurt business. I haven’t found any articles written with advice on such a location. Has any research gone into seeing how well such a location generally works? I’m thinking I could roughly expect at least 10% of the foot traffic business to the food court. A huge benefit is since I will be serving dessert I will not be directly competing with the food places offering a meal. I’ll be benefitting from them leaving room enough for my yogurt. Any thoughts on this?

  18. I would like to know how many machines do I need to expend 5 flavors? and how much investment does these means? Do you know of any company that sells these machines in Mexico? I am interested in opening a yogurt parlor..any info for Mexico business?

    • Hi Maria-
      Each twin twist machine puts our two flavors and a twist (combination). For 5 flavors you would need 3 machines. I suggest you look to Taylor if there is local in Mexico or Forte who sells all the Americas for less, but will do Warranty only, no labor in Mexico – but less expensive.

      Good luck!

  19. This is a good article, but a little dated… My wife and I own a shop in TX and went to Honey Hill Training also, it was very good – for some reason they did not have the Forte machines, which is what we use at our store. Bud was really nice and helpful and they gave good information on using machines properly and some other helpful tips when you open the store that you never consider. We opened for less then $150,00 total and purchased 6 machines, 3 door fridge, 1 freezer, cool topping bar, build out 1,500 ft etc. We are doing great so far it has been a nice summer and our town loves it. We will see how it goes in the winter, but we are optimistic since we are very involved with the schools, sports teams, and clubs. We will also be offering warm coffee and teas and some other things during the colder months, though it doesn’t get that cold here. The employees at Forte were extremely helpful in getting started, especially after the sale, which is not common in our experience. The service guys, Kevin and James gave us so much important insite into opening and walked our contractors and electricians through the build out. We felt like we purchased a franchise with the help we got for free from Forte Supply.

    • HI Josh

      Congratus on your new store as well! I am interested in opening a shop in PA and was wondering if I could talk to you about your experience with Forte Supply. Thank you!

    • Josh, Thanks for the info on Forte. I have been looking at them for a potential supplier as I put together a business plan for a new shop in TN. I have talked to both Forte and Donper and were impressed with both, but there is a considerable difference in cost. I also thought about coffee, and am leaning toward a Keurig commercial brewer. With that coffee is brewed by the cup, so there are many more flavor opportunities and less waste. I am also considering a freezer for pre-packaged single-serve Italian ice. I would love to know what fellow yogologists think of these ideas.

  20. Hi

    I am interested in starting yogurt shop in my area. I was wondering if you could tell me how to get in touch with op yogurt distrubutors and how I can get the same yogurt mix from the same distributor as the same franchise. Also, I would like to talk to other franchise owners to get more information. Any advice on how to approach them? Your website is so useful. Thank you! Thank you!

  21. I have seen a lot of yogurt shops opening up throughout my city. I wonder how some are going to make it with all the competition, and paying high rents and franchise fees.
    We have a growing food truck business in our downtown area. Everywhere you look you see a new food truck with new food ideas. I wondered if a FroYo food trailer would work. It could be set up at a good intersection, or move around like some of the food trucks.
    Has anyone done this?
    I thought about adding some other local favorite soups in the Fall and Winter.

  22. I am planning to open 4 frozen yogurt self service shops over sea . I am wondring if I buy all the equipment and machine from supplier like Donper or Forte, the supplier will send one of their technician in case a machine needs to be repaired. any info will be helpful. Thanks

  23. Pingback: Fro-Yo - The New Fast Food PowerhouseMy Beautiful Life

  24. Woooow! this is just the push i needed. I live in Arusha, Tanzania and this town has no idea on what it’s missing. Ever since i had my first taste of froyo in Nairobi, Kenya- I want to open my own shop in my town. So far, the only other place serving is in Dar- 8hrs ride from here.
    the tips on this review and people’s comments are really grounding and helpful; i am yet to contact machine providers and the bank; can’t wait!!
    Wish me luck!

  25. I have purchased Taylor machines for my first location and then purchased Donpar for my second one. What a mistake! In trying to save money, I have waisted it in service and down time. My Taylor machines are 8 years old and when I’ve needed service I get it within 24 hours. With Donpar, (machines only 8 months old), it takes a refrigeration company at least 5 to 8 days to get someone in and they don’t carry all the parts needed as Taylor does. I will definately suggest that you pay a little more up front then pay alot in the back end. Taylor is what I’ll be using for my next location. Remember service service service!

  26. I am preparing to open a self serve yogurt shop in the near future and I almost made a horrendous mistake. I became involved with Yogurt In Love and was excited about all they said they could for me. So glad I decided to do more research and learned about the terrible reputation they have. I have since been in contact with Neil at TurnKey Parlor and am considering using TurnKey for purchasing all of my equipment. However, I am reluctant to go forward with them because although Neil sounded like the “real deal” I really have no information on the company. Can you tell me if this is a reputable company? Also, Neil quotes great prices for Oxford machines, but I have seen no reviews or information concerning that brand. Have you heard of this brand, and if so, do they have a good reputation?

    • Hi Mary,
      thank you for your message! We agree, stay away from Yogurt in Love!!!!
      Neil at Turnkey is a good guy, he has always been fair and provided excellent information and value for as long as we have been in the business. We are also not familiar with the Oxford line, though we understand it is a private label brand. Neil should also be able to help you with information on Stoelting and Spaceman equipment, depending on your budget.
      Good luck!


  27. Hi all,
    I’d like to get into the froyo business as well. I think that I have potentially good location in the outdoor shopping mall that gets built in the city. I’d like to open own brand but would like to find company that is able to help me in the process. Potentially would like to be under 150k store with funds already secured. Any suggestions?

  28. Hi,

    I am opening a frozen yogurt store. How many refrigerators do I need? I am not in a high foot traffic area. I’d say moderate foot traffic (I am expecting between 100-200 customers a day). Any recommendations for refrigerator brands? Also, I am thinking about going with Forte Supply SS 100C machine? Does anyone have any comments about pros and cons for this machine? Any response is appreciated. TY.

  29. I wanted to know if a towns 1 mile population is 8,000 and three mile population is 13,000,10 mile population is 26,000, could the town support a frozen yogurt store. This is in a rural county in Va. The nearest frozen yogurt is 20 miles. Thanks

    • Hi Mike,
      A local bank or credit union may be a good place to get some information, commercial real estate agents will be able to tell you the traffic stores should get, also the SBA is a good resource. We do not have enough information on what the costs are out there and how much you will borrow, etc to give you a good answer. But, I am sure its possible!

      Good luck!

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