TCBY

Fro-yo girl here. Time for another frozen yogurt franchise report. TCBY (The Country’s Best Yogurt) grew to become the largest frozen yogurt chain in the world during the first wave of frozen yogurt that started in the 1980s. Is it time for TCBY to shine again?

Front View of TCBY

Front View of TCBY

Overview: TCBY started out in 1981 in Little Rock, Arkansas and started franchising in 1982. The chain grew rapidly, reaching 1,665 locations by 1990 and 2,696 locations worldwide by the end of 1996. Stores closed as frozen yogurt became less popular. Today TCBY has over 470 locations worldwide.

In 2000, TCBY became part of Mrs. Fields Famous Brands. Some TCBY locations are co-branded with Mrs. Fields. In 2010, TCBY introduced a livelier, trendier branding, store design and self-serve format. In 2012, they introduced a line of pre-packaged frozen yogurt products available at grocery stores.

TCBY has a broader product line than your typical frozen yogurt shop (scoopable frozen yogurt, soft serve frozen yogurt, frozen yogurt cakes and pies, Beriyo yogurt smoothies, parfaits, Shivers, malts, splits, etc.) and it has years of history and worldwide brand recognition.

I found the TCBY website was a good source of information about franchising. The site places a strong emphasis on training and support. New franchises are sent to Famous Brands University in Salt Lake City, Utah for 11 days of training. They offer ongoing support including their own elearning platform.

Yogurt: TCBY’s frozen yogurt strives to be a healthier alternative to ice cream. It’s sweeter and masks the natural flavor of frozen yogurt. I only saw one tart soft-serve flavor listed on their website, Italian tart. They have soft serve sorbet and no sugar added flavors.

Quick look at the froyo menu at TCBY.

Quick look at the froyo menu at TCBY.

I haven’t had a chance to try their Italian tart. As someone who likes the new wave of frozen yogurt, the lack of tart flavors is disappointing. However, TCBY’s strength is its “ice cream-like” frozen yogurt. For example, the Golden Vanilla flavor that I tried tasted very much like soft serve ice cream with no yogurt flavor. Their famous White Chocolate Mousse flavor tasted more like marshmallow than white chocolate. Their frozen yogurt grocery store line is very sweet and the flavors are traditional and indulgent.

I visited several TCBY locations in different states. The toppings have been typical. The prices have been high and the portions stingy.

Marketing: I haven’t been to any of the newer locations but I’ve seen pictures. The new stores look appealing but the frozen yogurt flavors still seem traditional. However, they are good about introducing new products like Greek frozen yogurt and Super Fro-yo.

They’ve had some appealing promotions, like the win your own TCBY store contest in 2009. I do look forward to the Mother’s Day and Father’s Day free frozen yogurt promotions.

Outlook: On the positive side, TCBY seems to offer superior support to franchisees, attention getting marketing programs, and new products. They’ve sought to adapt to the new wave of frozen yogurt while continuing to offer ice cream like frozen yogurt. They also offer flexibility for owners, including owning single units or multi-units and the store format type (self-serve, traditional, non-traditional).

Success will depend on how many people still want frozen yogurt that tastes like ice cream. There were plenty of people around the world who liked it back during the first wave of frozen yogurt. Some of their older locations in California (pre-makeover) have been closing, so that’s not a good sign. One TCBY store that was put up for sale in 2009 reported revenues of $161,105. I also read that TCBY’s SBA loan default rate is 29%.

The Basics:

·         Total investment needed to open: $140,000 – $397,740

·         Franchise fee: $25,000

·         Royalty: 6%

·         Financial requirements: $100,000 in liquid assets, $200,000 net worth

Grade: C+

You know you love me. X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

For more on all things fro-yo, be sure to visit my blog: http://froyogirl.blogspot.com/

 

 

Toppings Yogurt, Beverly Hills, CA

 

Front View of Toppings Frozen Yogurt in LA!

Front View of Toppings Frozen Yogurt in LA!

Stop by the toppings bar first to get sample cups. The machines have a handle in the middle that allows you to swirl two flavors together. They had a good variety of fro-yo flavors including one no sugar added option, one parve option, and two tart flavors. I saw a sign indicating that they serve kosher yogurt but it was painted over, so I’m not sure if all of their frozen yogurt is kosher.  I didn’t like either tart flavor that I tried. The blueberry tart tasted powdery. The original tart was sour and didn’t have that rich, complex taste that I look for. Both were firm and overly icy. The vanilla yogurt was a better choice as it was creamy and smooth with a mild, sweet flavor that went well with crushed Butterfingers.

 In addition to frozen yogurt, Toppings also has waffles, smoothies and iced coffee drinks. The service was exceptionally friendly.

Four self serve Fro- Yo machines.

Four self serve Fro- Yo machines.

The shop had a cheerful, neighborhood feel with painted flowers, white tables, a black chalkboard walls, a kid’s table, and a shadowbox table with cereal boxes. Many if not most of the customers brought young kids. They have a parking lot in the rear which comes in handy because it’s a busy neighborhood. There’s also free wi-fi.

 

Rating: 3.5/5

You know you love me.  X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

 

For more on all things fro-yo, be sure to visit my blog: http://froyogirl.blogspot.com/

* TOPPINGS YOGURT: 349 S. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211

Yogurt Delite, San Jose, CA

Yogurt Delite, San Jose, CA

 

Fro-yo girl here. There are several Yogurt Delite locations throughout the Bay Area. Each location looks to be around 20 years old with some type of penguin logo. The logos differ. It looks like these locations used to be part of the same chain before (Penguin’s?) but now are independently owned and operated. Yogurt Delite on Meridian Avenue in San Jose was established in 1990 and it looks its age. They still use Styrofoam cups, very old school.

Sidewalk look at Yogurt Delite

Sidewalk look at Yogurt Delite

During my visit they had four flavors of frozen yogurt available (vanilla, chocolate, peanut butter, blackberry). At least one of the four frozen yogurt machines looked to be out of order. For toppings, they only had syrups, hot fudge and dry toppings, mostly candy, cookies, nuts and sprinkles. I didn’t see mochi or fresh fruit. They didn’t offer a tart frozen yogurt flavor. The shop’s offerings felt outdated.

 

photo (2)The décor is no frills. I didn’t understand the “I love ice cream” painted on the wall. My guess is that they were trying to pass off their frozen yogurt as a healthy ice cream substitute, a very 90s approach. Or maybe they used to sell ice cream. But then they should also have an “I love frozen yogurt” painted on the wall.

 

Frozen yogurt prices: Mini $3.50/ Small $4/ Medium $4.50/ Large $5

 

They swirl a bit of fro-yo, add toppings, add more fro-yo and add more toppings. My vanilla frozen yogurt flavor was fine (rather sweet, not rich) and the texture was smooth and creamy but too soft. The price is on the high side and they weren’t generous with frozen yogurt or toppings. I’ve come to expect old school frozen yogurt shops to pile on the fro-yo and toppings.

 Cash only.

View of the Counter top and Fro- Yo Machines

View of the Counter top and Fro- Yo Machines

 

Rating: 3/5

You know you love me.  X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

 

For more on all things fro-yo, be sure to visit my blog: http://froyogirl.blogspot.com/

* YOGURT DELITE: 1597 Meridian Ave., Ste. E, San Jose, CA 95125

Clear Optometry

Clear Optometry, San Mateo, CA

 

Front view of Optometry Frozen Yogurt

Front view of Optometry Frozen Yogurt

 Fro-yo girl here. Clear Optometry is not your typical optometry store. It’s not your typical place to get frozen yogurt either. It’s a luxurious “Refresh bar” inside of a high end optometry store.

They serve up two flavors of fro-yo a day, Blue Bottle Coffee, Ici ice cream, Marco Polo gelato, Sibby’s Cupcakes (cupcakes are available Friday – Sunday) and milk tea. When you get the fro-yo, you must get the homemade mochi in up to 8 flavors. My favorite mochi flavor is green tea. The other fro-yo toppings include candy, cereal, coconut, syrups, fresh shaved chocolate, fresh fruit, etc.

 

photo (17)

Glimpse of the Fro-Yo Machine.

 Unlike most places, Clear Optometry puts the toppings in the middle of the cup and the fro-yo surrounds the toppings. Serving sizes are very generous. The original tart fro-yo is non-fat. The texture is interesting. It’s very smooth and light, resulting in a very refreshing cup of fro-yo. The flavor is quite sweet with little yogurt tanginess. It really hits the spot on a hot day.

 The lounge/seating area is serene, modern and elegant with dark leather seats, hanging pendant lamps, fresh flowers and a mostly white color palette. They have a special room for kids that I haven’t visited.

 If you get your eye wear there, you can enjoy complimentary treats at the Refresh bar.

 

Cash only.

 

Rating: 4.5/5

You know you love me.  X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

 

For more on all things fro-yo, be sure to visit my blog: http://froyogirl.blogspot.com/

* CLEAR OPTOMETRY: 138 E. 3rd St., San Mateo, CA 94401