It’s a sweet ending. A decadent indulgence. A tasty treat. As a potential investment, dessert franchises can offer up sweet rewards. Here’s a glimpse into four delicious franchise opportunities that prospective franchisees can get ready to sink their teeth into.
Founded in 1945 in Glendale, California by Burton Baskin and Irvine Robbins, Baskin-Robbins has been scooping up sweet indulgences in Canada since 1971. Today, 96 locations across Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, and Alberta serve a variety of soft-serve and frozen treats.
Worldwide, more than 7,800 shops in 50 countries serve 300 million customers each year. Founder Irv Robbins’ philosophy, “We sell fun, not ice cream,” is still a hallmark of the brand today.
A strong global brand with decades of experience and a focus on continual product development, the franchise offers many benefits to prospective franchisees.
Initially, the concept offered 31 flavours, one for every day of the month. Today, a recipe roster of 1,300 options graces its flavour library. In fact, the Pralines ‘n Cream flavour was created by Irv Robbins and his wife Irma in their home kitchen in 1970.
Since then, the Baskin-Robbins culinary innovation team has launched many new products, including gourmet cakes, eye-catching seasonal ice cream cake designs, and frozen yogurt and light ice cream options. The variety allows the franchise to maintain a strong market presence when things cool in slower seasons. Any day of the year, there’s something for everyone, whether it’s a celebration cake or a sweet reward for a job well done.
Prospective franchisees are detail-oriented, creative thinkers who can take initiative and successfully blend a strong work ethic with great communication skills. A comprehensive three-week training program is followed by regular ongoing training, group meetings, and unparalleled support from the corporate office when needed.
With many years of sweet success, Baskin-Robbins’ sage advice to prospective franchisees looking to find their own sweet spot includes: research an opportunity before making a commitment, do the due diligence, and speak with franchisees in the system. Once on board, set some realistic goals, grab a spoon, and dive in.
It’s hard to resist the sweet aroma of a crepe. First established in 2004, Crepe Delicious grew to more than 50 locations across Canada and internationally, from Kuwait to Malaysia. “It’s the result of working hard and seeing who is behind the brand to achieve results,” says Elik Farin, COO. “We are the biggest crepe franchise in the world. No one is doing crepes and gelato the way we are doing it.”
Stylish, appealing store fronts exude opulence, but Farin is quick to point out that high standards and quality doesn’t mean an expensive price tag. With competitive construction and equipment costs, Crepe Delicious is one of the lowest build-outs in the market. More than 90 per cent of locations are situated in prime shopping centres. “This is not an easy task,” says Farin. “We did our homework and built relationships to develop our concept in high-traffic areas.”
The healthy, easy-to-prepare menu is versatile and unique, from savoury crepes filled with fresh vegetables, lean meats, and cheeses to sweet indulgences, like dessert crepes and a signature gelato, made on-site. The menu is versatile, from breakfast to dessert.
The franchise is easy to operate, with no heavy equipment, which helps facilitate financing and approval for those looking to make an investment. “Sometimes, people want to be their own boss, but they are afraid. They are not by themselves with a franchise.”
Farin says prospective franchisees should come to the table with a collaborative mindset. It’s also important that the franchisee be a people person who can successfully communicate with the landlord, clients, and the franchisor. “If they can do this, they will make it big time. They need to know how to smile and engage. They need to wake up in the morning and understand that today is the day to go make it happen.”
Farin’s advice to franchisees? Understand your passion and what you want to do, and know who is behind the franchise and what they provide. “It’s easy to sign a franchise agreement, but you need to understand, are they training you well? Helping you find a site location? Offering up-to-date operations manuals? These are the important components a franchisee needs to look at.”
Cool, silky soft serve dipped in a crackling chocolate coating – it’s a nostalgic childhood treat.
La Diperie Founder Sam Arif, and now in partnership with MTY Group, is taking the dipped cone to a whole new level. With a variety of pure Belgian chocolate flavours and toppings to choose from, the combinations are endless.
Now in business for the fourth season, the first La Diperie opened in the Plateau in Montreal. The company began franchising just two years later. “We offer a good quality product, and we put a lot of emphasis on that, and I think people recognize the quality and the value they get. I think it plays in our favour,” says Arif.
With locations in Quebec and Ontario, Arif hopes to expand further into Ontario and Western Canada. Simple to operate, the budget-friendly, turnkey investment is easy to set up and maintain. “We offer good preparation and support, and clients that come to eat ice cream are happy people, so it’s a happy environment,” says Arif. “It’s fun.”
Though the focus is currently on street locations, the franchise hopes to expand its focus to later include a mall presence. “We consider our business to be a destination, so people will go the extra mile to come to us, but on the other hand, if you are right in their path, like at a mall, they will stop by and try.”
La Diperie cultivates franchisees from a variety of backgrounds, from the investor to families to couples that are semi-retired. Training both in class and on site helps ensure each franchise location maintains consistency, an aspect that’s important to La Diperie. “Whether a client is in Montreal or Toronto, we want them to have the same experience. There’s the size and the shape of the cone and a lot of little things that people might not think about, that are important to us.”
Arif’s advice to potential franchisors? Be involved in your business 100 per cent, don’t rely on your employees, and know everything from A to Z. Remember, you are the face of everything.
Brothers Aaron and Michael Serruya opened their first Yogen Früz location in 1986, and today, more than 1,400 locations in more than 46 countries serve up their healthy, guilt-free indulgence every day. “At the time that we opened our first yogurt store, no one in Canada had ever taken yogurt and made it the front of the house. We were the first to make it a stand-alone concept,” says Aaron. The franchise lived through several waves of the frozen yogurt craze, and each time, it came out stronger and better than before.
What allowed Yogen Früz to stand the test of time? For one, mall locations in a climate-controlled environment result in no potential downturn in service. In fact, the coldest months of the year are often the most successful.
With feet planted firmly in the global market, the team can successfully anticipate trends and roll them out in Canada long before they make their way across the water.
The streamlined process, born from years of experience, allows Yogen Früz to be the lowest turnkey cost in the market. The proprietary machine mixes more than 100 flavours, and yogurt is made fresh for each and every customer. Inventory is carefully controlled, and each bar of yogurt is portioned and accounted for, resulting in zero waste. In slow periods, even the fresh fruit toppings are frozen for later use, to be mixed into yogurt bars.
The company recently turned its focus to becoming more sustainable by building greenhouses to serve the seven biggest metropolitan cities in North America. Not only will the initiative provide access to seasonal fruit year round without the expensive price tag, it will reduce the carbon footprint and get food from farm to table in a way that feels good for the consumer and the environment.
After 31 years in business, it’s adapting with initiatives like this one that have allowed Yogen Früz to remain a top competitor. “There’s no way we’d be in business if we hadn’t adapted to what the market is asking for,” says Aaron. “When it comes to adapting, if you are not on your game, you won’t be in this game for 10 years.” Recently, they’ve also noticed a demand for vegan products, so the stores now offer non-dairy alternatives, something Aaron says is working well and is sure to grow.
Expansion plans include incorporating street locations where they can co-brand with offerings that complement their frozen yogurt presence, like coffee. “We are trying to secure companies where we feel we can help grow a new category for them, and we can help increase their store sales, while helping us penetrate a community we might not be in today.”
When awarding locations, Aaron says owner-operators always make the best franchisees. “We believe the customer service level is greater. It’s their livelihood and their customer, and as an owner, they want to make sure all their customers leave happy.” He adds that during start-up time, when things are often uncertain, owner-operators can control labour costs by working in their stores and building a stronger community presence. “You have to have staying power, and owner-operators have that.”
With time-honoured practices that are tested and true, Yogen Früz can position franchisees for the ultimate success, as long as they come to the table ready to work for and grow with the brand. “It starts at the franchisee level and it ends at franchisee level. It’s my number one priority with everything we do.”
By Gina Makkar