Through it all, these entrepreneurs haven't lost sight of what they see as key to their phenomenal growth--that franchisees play a vital role in the success of any operation. Perhaps it helps that they've seen the business from both sides, since their father was a bagel shop franchisee. "We run our business like a family business, I guess because of the way we were brought up," says Aaron, 31. "When it comes to franchising and dealing with franchisees, [we look at it as] these are people who are putting their livelihood in your hands. They've saved up enough money to get into business for the first time on their own, and they've chosen you. So for me, it's a compliment they're giving us, and making them successful is a goal I want to achieve."
Latin America and Asia continue to show the most interest in the Yogen Früz concept and are experiencing tremendous growth. Take one of Yogen Früz's franchises in Venezuela: The store is so busy, it's probably the only frozen yogurt shop in the world that offers valet parking to its patrons. "The city closed us down because of the amount of traffic [the customers] were creating," says Aaron. In response, their franchisee hired eight valets to alleviate the congestion on the crowded one-way street.
Looking ahead, the brothers expect to grow through diversification and more acquisitions. They envision a new concept for the future, one that takes co-branding to a much higher level: Imagine a shop where franchisees can house all their parent company's frozen desserts under one roof, ultimately offering a wide enough range of treats to satisfy every individual who enters the store. "As we continue to add more and more world-class brands to our family, it gives our franchisees the opportunity to pick up other concepts they can offer within their store," says Michael. "It's this whole idea of co-branding and nontraditional growth that we're seeing so strong in our industry today."
While countless fads come and go, the Serruya brothers long ago banked on the idea that frozen yogurt was here to stay. By trusting their instincts--and believing in the unlimited potential of the frozen dessert market--they've achieved what few so young have, and in such a short period of time. For three entrepreneurial brothers who dreamed of going into business together, destiny certainly has not left them out in the cold.
Yogen Früz Worldwide Inc., (905) 479-8762, fax: (905) 479-5235