How To Make Your Ice Cream Or Frozen Yogurt Shop Recession Proof

The good news about the current recession is that it is making people more appreciative of the smaller things in life —  like the pleasure of going out and simply enjoying an ice cream cone with the one you love. The days of ordering $280 Surf and Turf platters along with giant designer martinis have been put on temporary hold. This is bad news for the big restaurants but good news for people who are in the business of providing the specialty treat for the person who has good “taste” but can only afford something small.

Today the focus for the consumer is to spend a smaller amount of money for a unique experience. That is because not too many people have as much money to splurge on the big luxuries in life at the moment. However, they can afford to splurge on the little luxuries in life like designer ice cream and frozen yogurt.

If you are in a frozen yogurt, ice cream, or similar specialty business then you is considered to be in a “hot sector” of business in 2011. This trend towards specialty bakeries and gourmet shops has been heating up since 2006…

Even though ice cream and frozen yogurt are popular with consumers and are said to be recession proof business, this does not mean that you are immune to the effects of the recent economic down turn. There are some things that you can do to make sure that you will not just survive this recession. You will also thrive!

Sell Them a Taste of Luxury

In this business the more exotic, unique and luxurious you can make a simple ice cream cone or yogurt parfait the more business you are going to be able to attract in just one day.

Unique ice cream or yogurt flavorings are the treasures of the dairy world. It is up to you to use your creativity to unearth great tasting combinations that keep your customers coming back for more.

The trick is to go one step further than your competitors ever would. Let’s just say your competitor is selling champagne flavored yogurt. You can go one step further and sell champagne flavored yogurt mixed with real strawberries and topped with a touch of mint. Showing your customer that you know how to go that extra mile can also make you extra profit.

Go for the Most Exotic Touches You Can Find

Everyone knows that if it is rare and if it is exquisite then you can charge more for it. This applies to a fur coat as much as it also applies to cup of frozen yogurt. That is because in a recession customers become more value oriented. They want to get their money’s worth for something that is special.

For instance, you can sell a plain old vanilla yogurt with a vanilla wafer chip on the side or you can serve a vanilla custard yogurt made with frozen bananas and crushed vanilla pods and topped with threads of saffron, crushed toffee and saffron threads. This means that you will be able charge a dollar or more for a yogurt that is a “one of a kind” gem meant to be appreciated and savored as a gourmet treat.

When it comes to frozen yogurt, look for the strangest, yet hippest toppings you can find and also afford. Look to sell Asian flavors like lychee, dragonfruit or mangosteen.

Get on a Health Kick

It is absolutely no secret in the frozen yogurt and ice cream business that things that are organic and chock full of vitamins are going to be selling points with most crowds.  This means that that if you are selling frozen yogurt you should make sure that you have the best frozen yogurt mix that you can afford that tastes healthy and like real yogurt.

There are two types of yogurt mixes on the market – the tart tasting yogurt mix and the sweet mix that tastes more like ice cream. If you are trying to market to a health conscious crowd it does probably a good idea to use the healthier taste tart yogurt.

Yet another idea is to start selling smoothies. Yogurt smoothies that have special vitamin formulas added to them are big business nowadays. You can offer your customers frozen yogurt or frozen yogurt smoothies that are enhanced with every vitamin from A to D.

For those watching their weight it is important to offer a diet ice cream, yogurt, or smoothie that is made with low-fat or skim dairy products. You can even add weight loss supplements to shakes and smoothies such as green tea “gunpowder” (also known as “match”) or freeze dried acai berry powder to appeal to the crowd that needs to peel off the pounds.

High fiber smoothies are also very much in vogue. Be sure to offer toppings or ingredients such as quinoa, flax seed or pumpkin seed so that your customers feel healthy buying that expensive gourmet treats from you.

Topping and mixing your fruits with super fruits are also a good idea. These are fruits that are known to have a very high level of antioxidants in them.  Good examples of antioxidant super fruits are blueberries, blackberries and acai.

The bottom line is that most people do not mind paying a bit more for something they feel is wholesome and good for them; you can market your product to them as being worth the investment in their health.

Lactose-free ice cream or yogurt is also a top seller. You can also try selling sugar-free, gluten-free and nut-free products to attract your customers.

Finally put a poster up in your store window or even underneath the flavors that lists the calories, ingredients and health benefits of what you are selling. Label it all organic and you have a commercial hit on your hands!

Get a Loyalty Program

The great thing about a loyalty program is that it can bring the same customer back to your store again and again. If you hand your customer a card that says that if they buy four frozen yogurts, they can get the fifth one free they will keep coming back.

Of course the best way to inspire loyalty and keep them coming back is to serve up the best ice cream or frozen yogurt in town at the lowest price possible.

Get an Online Presence

If you do not have a website then you are very much behind the times. Most people like to research a business before they visit it nowadays. This is why it is crucial to have a good website that is full of great persuasive copywriting extolling the virtues of your product as well as mouthwatering pictures of your product. Your location, email, phone number and other information should be on that website.

The business website is no longer just a fancy business card floating in virtual space. At this point in time it is a way of creating an intimate relationship with your customers. Your website is the place to describe all of your specialties as well as your Flavor of the Week. People will feel compelled to log in to see what it is, especially if you make it exotic as in “Blood orange frozen yogurt topped with candied lemon peel and walnuts in brandy.

Many businesses are large enough to boast having a blog. A blog keeps your connected with your customer base. Let’s say that you have a chocolate store selling confections made from traditional recipes used in the 1920s. This means that you could have a blog entry called “Vintage Chocolate Tastes” that describes everything you have to offer in full glorious detail. If you are a good writer your enthusiasm about your own product will definitely translate itself onto the page.

Both email newsletters that are sent out by email or posted on your site and blogs really do serve to connect you with your customer more. They also serve to reinforce your branding so that the customer thinks of coming to your business every time they have a craving for the tang of frozen yogurt or a delicious, exotic flavored ice cream cone.

Email Coupons and Newsletters to Customers

Whether you are asking for emails online in a pop-up after a visitor visits your site or at the point of check out in your real life store, it is very important that you request your customer’s email address. This way you can use it to follow up with special offers and information about your products.

An email can be used to offer your customer the loyalty program. You can use it to give them a code or a secret word that will get them a discount when they order at the counter.

You can also use an email to offer them Two-For-One-Deals. This means that if they bring a new customer to the store they can eat for free. Do not see this as a proposition that loses money because if you can hook one customer on your product then they will return again and again to buy from you.

Make Sure Your Customer Service Shines

If your name is not Pinkberry (and even if it is) and you are in the frozen yogurt business then you need to figure out a way to compete. Companies that are bigger than you often offer more toppings, more flavors and lower prices.

One area in which you can completely beat them at their own game is to show them outstanding customer service.

It is absolutely essential that you keep your staff positive, well-trained and energetic. Make sure they treat every single person that walks into your shop or parlour as special. Encourage them to introduce themselves by name and to in turn learn the name of each and every customer.

Your customers should feel free to offer you feedback and in fact, the mark of a good company in the minds of many companies is those that give you direct access to the owner.

You just can’t put a price-tag on that natural salesman working in y our store. Some people just have charisma when it comes to selling. Make sure that you are hiring people that match your branding.

Furthermore you should make sure that your staff is informed by educating them about what is in your ice cream or yogurt. Make sure that they know every inch of your business like you do. There is no bigger turn-off than having to deal with a greasy kid with an attitude who does not look you in the eye while handing you your ice cream. Do your very best to hire professionals that will give the front end of your store the happiest face possible.

Of course you need to offer your employees incentives so they stay motivated. Offer them discounts and bonuses so that they will want to do their very best for you. Let them know that you value their extra effort to get you business.

Give Back to the Community

One of the very best ways to keep those customers back is to build a reputation for yourself that has a likable, honest and philanthropic benefactor. If your customers know that somehow the money they are spending goes back to a local charity then they will be more likely to feel good about giving you their business. Sometimes this desire to belong to a cause that is greater than oneself can supersede the need to have a competitive or lower price point.

It is also fantastic branding to have your business out in the community at street fairs, at fund-raising events and during family-oriented events giving away free product, discounted product and coupon codes. It is also a good strategy to form a sports league of some kind and participate in local games.

You should also do something special during the holidays. For instance on Independence Day serve a Patriotic Sundae made out of red, white and blue berries and ice cream.

In essence, the more attention you can draw to your business by making your presence known, the better known you will be to your customer base. Remember that most people will go to the business “that comes to mind” and not necessarily the cheapest or best place so make sure you make a point of impressing each and every person who tries out your treats with the experience possible.  This will not just make your recession-proof.  You can make millions if you can master understanding the needs and attitudes of the community around you.

Jason Lexell

Need Help with Your Website or Getting Online?

Jason Lexell is a 20-year veteran helping clients to use the internet to find new customers and grow.

Please complete the form below.

Request a callback from Jason

Please enter your details below: