Jon and Marvin Gurman - YEH! YOGOURT

Date: MAR 6th, 2013

Topic: Interview with a CEO

It is true what they say about the power of TWO. Jon and Marvin Gurman have been partners in business for 35 years. It may be hard for people to physically tell them apart and that however thankfully is where it ends. Jon and Marvin each bring their own skill sets and personalities to YEH! YOGOURT. There is no Robin in this Dynamic Duo they are both Bruce Wayne’s. Jon and Marvin took the solid foundation of their father’s business to new heights becoming a Tour de Force in the Import Apparel arena throughout North America.

Equaling skilled through decades of hard work, they have honed their unique styles of leadership, developed a keen sense for what will be the next trend and learned that long term relationships are what count most in building a successful and satisfying enterprise. They both bring their endless energy, enthusiasm, passion for people and exceptional business assets in expanding their YEH! Franchise dynasty. You can find them visiting their stores daily, chatting with patrons, employees and franchise owners while always trying out and indulging in the latest YEH! Yogourt flavours.

BeTheBoss: Tell us about the YEH! YOGOURT concept.

Jon & Marvin Gurman: We really liked our self serve concept where the customer can choose from an extensive selection of Frozen Yogurt flavors and toppings ranging from fresh fruit to candy, cereals and chocolate. There is something for every ones palette whether our customer has a sweat tooth or looking for a refreshing light healthy snack.

BTB: How and when did you become involved with YEH! YOGOURT.

J&M: We have been ice cream fans since childhood and when we tried self serve frozen yogurt for the first time in the United States we were instantly addicted. The fact that you could eat this everyday without growing a large belly was a bonus. We had frozen yogurt withdrawal so we started to invest some time looking at how we would bring the concept to Montreal.

Fortunately late in 2008 we discovered a trendy “Urban Cool” Frozen Yogurt shop down the street from one of our favorite dinner restaurants. We were floored by the branding and new YEH! would be our entry into the franchising world. After opening 4 corporate stores in Montreal, Quebec we started franchising our store concept in 2010.

BTB: What was your background prior to joining YEH! YOGOURT.

J&M: We have been working hands on in the apparel industry for the last 35 years importing private label, branded, and licensed goods for retailers across North America.

BTB: What are some of the advantages in being a YEH! YOGOURT franchisee.

J&M: We are a family run business and extremely hands on. We have the necessary infrastructure to support anyone wanting to become a franchisee. We assist in the site selection and lease negotiation. We offer professional store design and guidance through the construction period. We work with our franchisees one to one throughout and after they have signed on board as a franchisee with YEH!

We offer a comprehensive 2 week training program at one of our corporate locations. At YEH! a seasoned Manager works along side of you and your team when it is time to open our store. Long before we signed on our first Franchisee we negotiated cost saving supply agreements and continue to look for ways to lower the cost of operations. We have Low Franchise and Royalty Fees. Our concept is easy to execute and requires no previous background in the food industry. We offer ongoing support, marketing and social media awareness.

Our team is food and trend savvy. We are constantly traveling, amassing valuable data that translates into product development. We have the manpower and financial resources to implement additional revenue producing concepts and an open door policy with our Franchisees to improve on our products and services. We have set up an opportunity for bank financing (SBL) for qualified franchisees. Finally we believe we have the BEST TASTING frozen yogurt in the industry.

BTB: Who is your ideal franchisee?

J&M: Our ideal franchisee is one who has an entrepreneurial spirit filled with passion and believes in the product and can work within the franchise framework. We want to work with a franchisee that has a strong work ethic and that appreciates the benefits working with a team to attain their goals. We look to associate ourselves with energetic and personable individuals that are going to be hands on store operators.

We also have several models for those making an arms length business investment and securing managers for multi unit operations and territory deals. If they love the business and they are proud of what they do, that shows and helps drive our growth and success.

BTB: Tell us a little about the Frozen Yogurt Industry.

J&M: When you think for a moment the self serve market has been in existence since the first retail shops appeared hundreds of years ago. We have been conditioned to purchase exactly what we want but not always the luxury of the quantity or choice selection. Self serve frozen yogurt has been tremendously popular in the U.S for quite some time and will experience massive growth in Canada in the coming years.

The self-serve frozen yogurt industry has successfully tapped in to our most basic senses of sight, smell and taste. Having the freedom to create your own concoction of tastes is fun and extremely satisfying. The frozen yogurt industry is one of the fastest growing concepts in Franchising today now that there is a refreshing, healthy snack that is affordable and can be enjoyed guilt free seven days a week.

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

J&M: The importance of branding, having the right franchisee partners to operate their locations and to be flexible to changes in the marketplace. Being in business for 35 years serving exclusively the apparel retailer is a very different than working with people who’s lives you know will be for ever changed the moment they decide to open a YEH! Yogourt location.

What we realize is that every franchisee will directly impact our brand and our goal in building a successful franchise operation. We have learned that as important it is to open up stores it is more important to make sure that every new franchisee that comes on onboard is well trained and capable of reaching their goals while preserving the integrity of the brand.

BTB: Do you have a mentor and is their some one you use for inspiration.

J&M: Our late father Jack Gurman started our apparel company long before we stepped into the business we operate today. He was the one who sacrificed his leisure time and put that initial sweat equity to build the foundation that we were fortunate to have had the possibility to build on.

This is the same for our YEH! YOGOURT business. From our father’s lessons we know that it takes a lot of trial and error to deliver a platform where our Franchisees can be successful. So whether or not he was consciously in the forefront of our minds our business Mentor has always been our father.

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

J&M: Make sure you are entering an industry you have passion for, and something you can see yourself doing for years to come. Research, research, research.

One must ask:

  • do you love the business
  • do you have the skill sets
  • are you financially and emotional able
  • are you willing to work the necessary hours

Once you answer yes to all of the above:

  • research the company
  • make visits to the restaurants
  • taste the food
  • understand the structure
  • consult a professional accountant and lawyer
  • perform due diligence
  • understand the franchise disclosure document and agreement

You have to be ready to put all of your energy and enthusiasm into the store or have a plan in place to hire a strong managerial team if you are looking to become a multi unit investor.

BTB: In your opinion why do you think that YEH! Yogourt would be a great opportunity for someone?

J&M: Not to be repeating ourselves we know what it is to work hard for everything we have achieved. We have a “YOU GO, YOU GET” attitude towards life and business. And these qualities run through the entire YEH! YOGOURT team.

We are extremely trend oriented and will keep Yeh! YOGOURT trending while offering all the support necessary for our franchisees to be successful. Lastly our Frozen YOGOURT TASTE EXCEPTIONAL!