Interview with Michael Shneer - Master Franchisor of Menchie's

Date: JAN 25th, 2011

Topic: Interview with a CEO

BeTheBoss - Tell us about the Menchie’s concept.

Michael Shneer - Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt is a self-serve pay by the weight concept. We offer over 100 rotating flavours of fat-free frozen yogurt and over 50 toppings including fresh fruit and sauces. The customer takes as much or as little as they would like of the various frozen yogurt choices and toppings, and then they are charged based on the weight. So the customer controls what they are getting and how much they are spending for this healthy indulgence.

BTB - How and when did you become involved with Menchie’s?

MS - In September 2009, someone from California called and told us about this fantastically busy and hot concept that was sweeping the State. I went out to Los Angeles to see the business and was so impressed when I visited the first store and saw a line up out the door. I was fascinated to learn more about why so many people were lining up for this product. It then took us about 9 months to find a dairy in Canada that would be able to produce our frozen yogurt up the high standards that our company required.

BTB - What was your background prior to joining Menchie’s?

MS - I have a B.B.A. and an M.B.A. and have spent much of my career bringing U.S. concepts to Canada so I felt very comfortable in our ability to successfully bring up this concept and to Canadianize it where necessary.

BTB - What are some of the advantages in being a Menchie’s franchisee?

MS - Menchie’s is all about creating a “wow” experience for our customers. A place where the customer has fun and enjoys hanging out. To that end, we are fixated on our brand and the experience as that is what brings the customer back time and again. A franchisee is provided all the components that together, make up the Menchie’s experience.
In addition, and because of the size and growth of our chain internationally, we save the franchisee considerable money on the equipment, on the frozen yogurt and several other key components. We have multiple types of Marketing programs, all of which help support the franchisee in maximizing their sales. A Mom and Pop type of operation would not be able to afford nor provide any of these types of programs.

BTB - Who is your ideal franchisee

MS - We seek a franchisee that is passionate about creating an exciting experience for the customer and one who will be intimately involved in their local community. The franchisee should love the idea of providing a healthy product and be committed to putting a smile on every customer’s face.

BTB - Tell us a little about the Frozen Yogurt Market?

MS - The frozen yogurt category is expected to grow to $28 billion in sales and has been growing at the staggering rate of 15% per year. It has near universal appeal when one considers that 90% of all North American households regularly consume frozen desserts. “Yogurt as a category is clearly the defining food of this decade” said Harry Balzer (as quoted in the Miami Herald), chief industry analyst of the market research NPD Group, who last made that declaration about pizza in the 1980’s and “this is the frozen version of that”.

BTB - What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?

MS - That finding the right location can be a long and challenging process, but that we wont compromise and settle for a mediocre location just to get open. We’ve also seen that its easy for our competitors to buy an inferior powder based product, but we’ve seen that the consumer can discern our much better tasting product made fresh by a Canadian dairy.

BTB – Who do you use for inspiration?

MS - My children are my biggest inspiration.

BTB - What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?

MS - Look at the size and growth of the industry. Examine the size and growth of the company you are investigating. Get into a category that is large, growing and with a company that is the leader in the category. Check with other franchisees in the system about their experience in terms of their profitability and the support they get from the franchisor. Lastly, go watch the business in action and talk to its customers. Is it busy? Do customers love the product? Do they come back often?

BTB - In your opinion, why do you think that Menchie’s would be a great opportunity for someone?

MS - Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt is expanding in across many countries in the world. People love the concept, the product and the experience. It’s unique and fun.That’s why so many famous celebrities come often to a Menchie’s.

This is a huge industry with significant growth still ahead. Our frozen yogurt, with “live and active cultures”, is made fresh by a Canadian dairy and plays favourably to universal health concerns and health trends. It’s delicious, but the fact that it’s fat-free and healthy increases the frequency of customer visits. The product appeals to everyone, regardless of age, income or ethnic group. In fact, our stores are packed even in the middle of winter.

Being in the food business is often desired by many people, but its generally not easy. However, Menchie’s is one of the easiest food based businesses to operate. Its fast and easy to train new employees. Inventory levels are low and they turn frequently. We also believe that the business is “recession resistant”. Menchie’s has been seen massive growth while the economy has been in its worst shape since the Great Depression.