Do more frozen yogurt machines mean more profits?
I'm not so sure. I can see many reasons why limiting
the number of machines to 6 or less will in the end be the most
profitable strategy. Other equipment dealers will hate me for
saying this, but I really believe it. Sure, I would love to sell
you 8 machines instead of 5. But I would prefer that you have a
more profitable business, and open three stores that have 3 to 6
machines each. We both end up making more money this way.
As an independent, the number of machines you go with will be
determined in part by the following factors:
1) Size of location
Obviously, you can't pack 10 machines into a 750 sq ft. space. The
machines need about 12′ to 18" between them, and total space
becomes a factor considering you need topping counters, register
space, back room coolers, sinks, etc.
2) Start up Money
If you don't have enough $, you aren't going with a high machine
number. You might be forced to stick to 3-6 machines in order
to keep your total investment under control.
Who are you competing against? How many machines do they have?
Again, just because you are competing against a nearby store that
has 8 machines, do you really need to match the number of flavors
The question is............is it really better to go with
There is a certain "WOW Factor" when a customer walks into a store
that has 8 machine and 16 flavors of frozen yogurt. And if you have a
super high volume location, more machines might be the best, most
profitable choice. But going with 3-6 machines can also be wise for
many reasons. This number helps minimize your investment, control
your utilities cost and run a leaner store. And because this
business model is still relatively young, there still isn't enough
data out there to tell me that having that 16 vs. 10 flavors means
incremental sales that make up for the added
overhead and investment.
I would rather be the guy with
the manageable debt load and lower overhead than the guy that lets his
fruit toppings go bad because he's so worried about losing a nickel to
pay his bills. When its all said and done, the lean will survive while
the weeding out is happening.
Here is another reason you may want to consider limiting your number
of yogurt machines. If you line up more than 6 machines, you will need
to spend more on air conditioning to ensure the machines don't overheat.
Or you will need to go with a glycol system, which adds about $15k to
your investment. 6 or less machines, you can get away with air cooled
What is the difference? Air cooled machines are fully self-contained.
You don't hook anything up to them, aside from the power cord. But they
create more heat inside your back room. Water cooled machines are
cooled by water - or a glycol system. They won't make your store warmer,
but they will cost you $ in water.
Air cooled machines cool themselves by blowing hot air out and away
from the machines. This means more heat in your store. When 6 machines
or less are blowing hot air into your location, the heat is manageable.
You can either have your contractor put in an extractor fan, which helps
pull the hot air up and outside your store, or you can buy a higher
powered air conditioner and over power the hot air. Best bet is to
CLEARLY discuss this with your A/C contractor prior to construction. A
lot of times a split system A/C is the best idea - so that you don't
freeze the people inside your store while trying to keep the back room
at a reasonable temperature.
But once you go past 6 machines, going air cooled is a tough call. At
the 6 machine or more mark, you still might be able to go air cooled if
you have enough space, but it is a little more challenging. So, you're
looking at plumbing 7 or more machines to city water, which means a
substantial water bill. If you want to avoid a high monthly water bill,
you have a glycol system installed. This is sort of like the radiator in
your car and the glycol is the coolant that runs through it to keep the
engine from overheating. This isn't cheap. It can run about $15k or
more depending on installation costs and what system you buy. Stores
with 7 or more machines almost always go for the glycol system and the
high initial investment.
In summary, the number of machines you decide to go with will depend
on many factors and less machines doesn't necessarily mean a less
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