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Franchise 500 2023
2024 Franchise 500 Rank
#287 Ranked #233 last year
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Initial investment
$310K - $603K
Units as of 2023
1,307 Increase 4.4% over 3 years

Cold Stone Creamery was founded in 1988 by Donald and Susan Sutherland in Tempe, Arizona. Previous to opening the first store, the Sutherlands had been constantly disappointed by prepackaged ice cream in stores and mass-produced ice cream at other ice cream parlors.

Now, over 30 years later, the Cold Stone Creamery name has become an international and household name. In the U.S. alone, the ice cream franchise has over 850 locations. There are also over 300 franchises located internationally. 

Cold Stone Creamery makes their ice cream fresh every day on site. Customers are allowed to add additional mix-ins to the ice cream to make their own unique creations. If customers do not want to make their own, Cold Stone Creamery does have a list of tried and true creations to choose from.

Why You May Want to Start a Cold Stone Creamery Franchise

Franchisees for Cold Stone Creamery do not need to have previous restaurant experience. The right franchisee should have a passion for ice cream and the Cold Stone Creamery products. They should also be assertive and a good team leader.

Opening a Cold Stone Creamery franchise may offer a more predictable outcome than investing in a completely new brand that could struggle to thrive in the already crowded and competitive foods industry.

What Might Make a Cold Stone Creamery Franchise a Good Choice?

One of the unique features of Cold Stone Creamery is that the ice cream is made fresh in the store every day. The Sutherlands were frustrated with the chalk-like texture and taste of mass-produced ice cream brands. They wanted to give their customers fresh, creamy ice cream that was as unique as each customer.

To be part of the Cold Stone Creamery team, you should make sure you're financially ready for an initial investment made up of a franchise fee and other startup costs. In addition, you should prepare yourself for ongoing fees that will include advertising, royalty, and potential renewal fees. Franchisees will also need to meet the company's set net worth and liquid capital requirements.

Cold Stone Creamery has also partnered with third-party financial lenders that can help cover the costs of the franchise fee, startup, and equipment.

How To Open a Cold Stone Creamery Franchise

Before making any financial commitment or signing an agreement, it is crucial that you perform your due diligence and establish if this is the right opportunity for you. As part of your due diligence, you may want to speak to existing franchisees and ask the Cold Stone Creamery franchise team questions.

As you pursue opening a Cold Stone Creamery franchise, you will go through some training. The initial training consists of attending training that may be located at company headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona and participating in in-store training for at least two weeks.

Franchisees will also spend many hours learning everything that goes into running a Cold Stone Creamery franchise. This includes aspects of running the business as well as making the ice cream. After opening your franchise, you will also receive monthly check-ins from support staff. 

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Company Overview

About Cold Stone Creamery

Industry Food
Related Categories Ice Cream, Ices, Frozen Yogurt
Founded 1988
Parent Company MTY Franchising USA Inc.
Leadership Eric Lefebvre, CEO
Corporate Address 9311 E. Via De Ventura
Scottsdale, AZ 85258
Social Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Business Overview

Franchising Since 1994 (30 years)
# of employees at HQ 250
Where seeking

This company is offering new franchises throughout the US.

This company is offering new franchises in the following international regions: Africa, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, Middle East, Europe (Eastern), Europe (Western), Central America, Canada, South America, Mexico

# of Units 1,307 (as of 2023)

Information for Franchisees

Here's what you need to know if you're interested in opening a Cold Stone Creamery franchise.

Financial Requirements & Ongoing Fees

Here's what you can expect to spend to start the business and what ongoing fees the franchisor charges throughout the life of the business.

Initial Franchise Fee Information Circle
$27,000
Initial Investment Information Circle
$310,375 - $602,775
Net Worth Requirement Information Circle
$250,000
Cash Requirement Information Circle
$120,000
Veteran Incentives Information Circle
20% off franchise fee
Royalty Fee Information Circle
6%
Ad Royalty Fee Information Circle
3%
Term of Agreement Information Circle
10 years
Is franchise term renewable? Yes
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Financing Options

Some franchisors offer in-house financing, while others have relationships with third-party financing sources to which they refer qualified franchisees.

Third Party Financing Cold Stone Creamery has relationships with third-party sources which offer financing to cover the following: franchise fee, startup costs, equipment

Training & Support Offered

Franchisors offer initial training programs and a variety of ongoing support options to help franchisees run their businesses.

On-The-Job Training 80 hours
Classroom Training 40 hours
Ongoing Support
Newsletter
Toll-Free Line
Grand Opening
Online Support
Security & Safety Procedures
Field Operations
Site Selection
Marketing Support
Co-op Advertising
Ad Templates
National Media
Regional Advertising
Social Media
SEO
Website Development
Email Marketing
Loyalty Program/App

Operations

Additional details about running this franchise.

Is absentee ownership allowed? No
Can this franchise be run from home/mobile unit? Information Circle
No
Can this franchise be run part time? Information Circle
No
# of employees required to run 10-15
Are exclusive territories available? Information Circle
Yes
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Franchise 500 Ranking History

Compare where Cold Stone Creamery landed on this year's Franchise 500 Ranking versus previous years.

Additional Rankings

Curious to know where Cold Stone Creamery ranked on other franchise lists? Find out below.

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Disclaimer
The information on this page is not intended as an endorsement or recommendation of any particular franchise or business opportunity by Entrepreneur Media. Our listings and rankings are solely research tools you can use to compare opportunities. Entrepreneur stresses that you should always conduct your own independent investigation before investing in a franchise or business opportunity. That should include reviewing the company's legal documents, consulting with an attorney and an accountant, and talking to former and current franchisees/licensees/dealers.
Updated: December 12th, 2022