- 2023 Franchise 500 Rank
#233 Not ranked last year
- Initial investment
$310K - $581K
- Units as of 2022
1,258 4.2% 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.
About Cold Stone Creamery
- Franchising Since
- 1994 (2023-1994 years)
- # of employees at HQ
- Where seeking
This company is offering new franchisees throughout the US.
This company is offering new franchisees in the following international regions: Africa, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, Middle East, Europe (Eastern), Europe (Western), Central America, Canada, South America, Mexico
- # of Units
- 1,258 (as of 2022)
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
Definition: The initial fee paid to a franchisor to join their system
What you need to know: Found in Item 5 of the FDD, this may be a flat fee, or may vary based on territory size, experience, or other factors.The franchise fee is an up-front (one-time) cost that a new franchisee pays to the franchisor. This fee is usually due at the signing of the franchise agreement and covers the right to use the franchisor's trademarks, name, and related business systems.
- Initial Investment
- $310,375 - $580,650
Definition: The total amount necessary to begin operation of the franchise
What you need to know: The initial investment includes the franchise fee, along with other startup expenses such as real estate, equipment, supplies, business licenses, and working capital. This is outlined in a chart in Item 7 of the FDD, showing a range of possible costs from low to high.
- Net Worth Requirement
Definition: The minimum net worth you must have in order to qualify to become a franchisee of this company
What you need to know: Net worth is the value of a person's assets minus liabilities. Assets include cash, stocks, retirement accounts, and real estate. Liabilities include items like mortgages, car payments, and credit card debt.
- Cash Requirement
Definition: The minimum liquid capital you must have available in order to qualify to become a franchisee of this company.
- Veteran Incentives
- 20% off franchise fee
Definition: A discount or other incentive offered to military veterans who buy a franchise with this company.
- Royalty Fee
Definition: A ongoing fee paid to the franchisor on a regular basis.
What you need to know: Most franchisors require franchisees to pay an ongoing royalty fee, which is detailed in Item 6 of the FDD. This fee is typically a percentage of weekly or monthly gross sales, but may also be a flat weekly, monthly, or annual fee.
- Ad Royalty Fee
Definition: An going fee paid to the franchisor on a regular basis to support advertising or marketing efforts.
What you need to know: This may also be called advertising fee, marketing fee, brand fund fee, and more, but the basic purpose is the same-- to support promotion of the brand systemwide. As with the royalty fee, it is detailed in Item 6 of the FDD, and can be a percentage of weekly or monthly gross sales or a weekly, monthly, or annual fee.
- Term of Agreement
- 10 years
Definition: The length of time your franchise agreement will last.
What you need to know: Franchise terms are typically anywhere from 5 to 20 years in length, but are sometimes instead dependent on factors such as the term of your lease. Once your term is up, you may have the option to renew your agreement, typically for a smaller fee than the original franchise fee.
- Is franchise term renewable?
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
NewsletterToll-Free LineGrand OpeningOnline SupportSecurity & Safety ProceduresField OperationsSite SelectionFranchisee Intranet Platform
- Marketing Support
Co-op AdvertisingAd TemplatesNational MediaRegional AdvertisingSocial MediaSEOWebsite DevelopmentEmail MarketingLoyalty Program/App
Additional details about running this franchise.
- Is absentee ownership allowed?
- Can this franchise be run from home/mobile unit?
Definition: The business can be run from your home and/or a vehicle, and it is not necessary to have a retail facility, office space, or warehouse.
- Can this franchise be run part time?
Definition: This business can be run by the owner on a part-time basis (less than 40 hours per week) and/or as a side business; it is not necessary for the business to be open/run full-time.
- # of employees required to run
- Are exclusive territories available?
Definition: An exclusive territory is a fixed area in which you are given the right to operate and in which no other units of the same franchise may be opened.
What you need to know: Territory size may be based on factors such as radius, population size, zip codes, and more. Details can be found in Item 12 of the FDD.
Interested in ownership opportunities like Cold Stone Creamery? Request a free consultation with a Franchise Advisor now.
Franchise 500 Ranking History
Compare where Cold Stone Creamery landed on this year's Franchise 500 Ranking versus previous years.
Curious to know where Cold Stone Creamery ranked on other franchise lists? Find out below.
Ranked #233 in 2023
Entrepreneur’s 44th annual Franchise 500® ranking shines a light on the unique challenges and changes that have shaped the franchise industry over the last year—and how franchisors have adapted and evolved to meet them.
Ranked #90 in 2023
If you're interested in an opportunity with international appeal, start your search with our ranking of the top franchises seeking to expand outside the U.S.
Are you eager to see what else is out there? Browse franchises that are similar to Cold Stone Creamery.
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