The Inside Scoop

Grand Opening and Beyond

May 14, 2004: The Grand Opening

In her drive to have a truly profitable grand opening, Frerich had done a lot of local marketing beforehand to get the word out about her new premium ice cream store that was going to sweeten the neighborhood. As a result, customers were lined up waiting for their first taste of Cold Stone Creamery. "To see the smiles on their faces as they experienced the ice cream I had experienced in San Diego over a year [earlier], and to see them have the same reaction that I did-it reminded me of why I did it all," says Frerich. "It made it all worthwhile."

Even with the air of excitement on opening day, the event wasn't without its problems. At the last minute, the walk-in freezer stopped working-it went into defrost mode and didn't come back out. With lots of ice cream already prepared, Frerich did not want to lose all that product-and profit-on her grand-opening weekend. Thankfully, she was able to call her area development team for advice on what to do. "So we worked through it, and as crazy as it made me, looking back, we had a great grand opening-it almost exceeded my expectations," she says. "You don't know what's going to happen-and things are definitely going to go wrong-but it's how you choose to react to them that can be the difference between a great day and one you don't care to reflect on."

Early 2005 and Beyond: Back For Another Scoop

Her first store has been so successful that Frerich has plans to open two more Cold Stone franchises in 2005. She hopes the Madison and Summit, New Jersey, stores emulate the success of her first store, which has already exceeded Cold Stone's average unit volume of $375,000 annually. Clearly not at the end of her Cold Stone journey, Frerich is embarking on an even bigger adventure in adding new stores to the mix. "Whatever happened that challenged and stressed me out in store number one can only help me [in preparing] to open my second and third stores," she says.

Profitable, yes. Fun, yes. Stressful, absolutely, but from Gina Frerich's perspective, franchising was the right way to go. She reveled in the training, got serious about the building, inspired her crew to greatness, and turned what could have been an opening-day disaster into a rousing success. Her advice to other potential franchisees of any concept? "You have to get in there and dig in. Be passionate about it, learning everything you can every step of the way," she says. "Don't settle for anything other than being the best, because it's that drive and determination that keeps you going when you're looking at yourself in the mirror wondering why you even got into this in the first place."

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This article was originally published in the January 2005 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The Inside Scoop.

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