How many froyo machines will you need for your self serve store to be a success?
A lot of people have this question. The amount of machines used in a self serve frozen yogurt store can vary anywhere from 3 to 10.
The bigger franchise stores like Orange Leaf, Pinkberry, Menchie’s and Yogurtland seem to stay around 7 or 8 machines.
The main question is: how many machines will make your store the most profit? A lot of equipment dealers will tell you you need 7 or more machines but in my opinion, limiting the number of machines to 5 or less will end up being the most profitable strategy.
If you are an independent store trying to decide how many machines you will need, here are some factors to consider:
1) Size of location
- For obvious reasons you can’t pack 10 machines into a small space. The machines need about 12″ to 18” between them, and total space becomes a factor considering you need topping counters, register space, back room coolers, sinks, etc.
2) Start up Money
- Depending on how much start up money you have, you might be forced to stick to 3-6 machines in order to keep your total investment under control.
- How many machines does your competition have? Just because you are competing against a nearby store that has 8 machines or, do you really need to match the number of flavors they offer? Will that help with profitability for your business?
The question remains — is it better to go with more or less machines?
Of course there is the obvious “WOW” factor when someone walks into a frozen yogurt store and sees 8 machines with 16 flavors of frozen yogurt. If your store is in a super high volume location then more machines might be your best option. But going with less machines can also be wise for a variety of reasons. 3-6 machines helps decrease the size of your investment, keep your utilities cost under control and allows you to run a leaner operation. Because the frozen yogurt business model is still pretty new, there isn’t even enough data around saying that having 16 flavors vs. 10 flavors means your store will be more profitable.
Because the frozen yogurt industry is so hot right now, competition is getting intense. It’s better to be the person with a debt load that is manageable than the person who that let’s his customer service suffer because so worried about losing a penny to pay his monthly bills. In the long run, keeping things manageable is almost always the better business decision.
Another reason you should consider limiting the amount of yogurt machines you purchase is because of how much more you will need to spend on air conditioning to ensure the machines don’t overheat. If you line up more than 6 machines, you’ll have to spend a lot more on air conditioning. Or you will need a glycol system which can add about $15,000 more to your initial investment. If you have 6 or less machines, you can manage with air cooled machines.
The difference between the two is air cooled machines are fully self-contained.They are only hooked up to their power cord. But they will create more heat inside your back room. Water cooled machines are cooled by water – or a glycol system. They won’t make your store warmer, but they will cost you money in water.
Air cooled machines cool themselves by blowing hot air out and away from the machines. This means more heat in your store. When 6 machines or less are blowing hot air into your location, the heat is pretty easy to deal with. You can either have your contractor put in an extractor fan, which helps pull the hot air up and outside your store, or you can buy a higher powered air conditioner and over power the hot air. Best bet is to clearly discuss this with your A/C contractor prior to construction. A lot of times a split system A/C is the best idea – so that you don’t freeze the people inside your store while trying to keep the back room at a reasonable temperature.
But once you go past 6 machines, going air cooled is a tough call. At the 6 machine or more mark, you still might be able to go air cooled if you have enough space, but it is a little more challenging. So, you’re looking at plumbing 7 or more machines to city water, which means a substantial water bill. If you want to avoid a high monthly water bill, you have a glycol system installed. This is sort of like the radiator in your car and the glycol is the coolant that runs through it to keep the engine from overheating. This isn’t cheap. It can run about $15k or more depending on installation costs and what system you buy. Stores with 7 or more machines almost always go for the glycol system and the high initial investment.
Once you surpass 6 machines, going with air cooled is a tough call. At the 6 machine or more mark, you could perhaps still go with air cooled if you have a lot of space, but it’s a little more difficult. You’re looking at plumbing 7 or more machines to city water, which means a pretty huge water bill. If you would rather avoid a very costly monthly water bill, you have a glycol system installed. Glycol is the coolant that runs through your machine to keep it from overheating. It’s not a cheap system to install. It runs for about $15k or more depending on the company that installs it and what system you purchase. Stores with 7 or more machines almost always go with the glycol system and brave the high initial investment.
Overall, the number of machines you decide to go with will depend on many factors and less machines doesn’t necessarily mean a less profitable store. In many cases, it can mean a more manageable AND more profitable store.
Hope you find this helpful in your frozen yogurt business journey!
Peace, love, froyo.