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Forever Yogurt is a self-service frozen yogurt concept allowing customers to choose from over 80 unique and regularly rotating yogurt flavors and customize those selections with 40 ever-changing toppings.
Seeking to capitalize on the “better for you” dessert trend by selling frozen yogurt containing live and active probiotics, Mandy Calara founded the concept in Chicago in 2010. All existing Forever Yogurt stores are profitable, and the company is seeking to franchise the popular concept nationwide. Currently the brand has a total of 8 locations with 3 under construction.
MO: What inspired you to launch Forever Yogurt?
Mandy: We started in Chicago. The concept of self-serve frozen yogurt was very new in the Midwest. We wanted to be the first ones in the market and felt that the frozen yogurt industry provided a great business opportunity.
MO: How has your background and experience contributed to the development and success of Forever Yogurt so far?
Mandy: I was actually a professional poker player. I apply some of my poker strategy to the way I operate the business as well. I use a proactive and aggressive approach that I apply to the business operations of Forever Yogurt.
MO: If I could grant you a business related wish right now, what would you ask for?
Mandy: Endless funding for the franchisees!
MO: Can you talk about your strategy for building brand awareness and how you’ve managed to create a fanatical following?
Mandy: Our fanatical following started as soon as we opened up our first store. We created a high quality atmosphere where the guest can experience a premium desert. Everything encompasses the Forever Yogurt passion, from the look of the stores to the employees that we hire. Also, we use numerous social media outlets that engage the customer with update information and friendly response.
Another tool that we have accessed is Yelp. Yelp allows us to see and feel how our customers react to the store in general. This allows us to see how our fans feel about product quality, our employees and Forever Yogurt’s personality. With the Yelp reviews, we are able to modify the general structure of our franchise company.
MO: I love that you design each location to specifically fit the feel of the neighborhood where the store is located, meaning that no two Forever Yogurt locations are identical. Can you give an example of a location where you were inspired by the neighborhood and how that was reflected in the design of the shop?
Mandy: The most obvious store would be our location located on Belmont in Chicago. That Forever Yogurt is located next to the second busiest train exit for Chicago public transportation. We originally wanted to put an actual piece of a Chicago train car in the store, but it proved difficult to get into the store. Instead, we build a stainless steel mosaic model replica. The replica actually is the serving station in which guests make their yogurt creations.
The Belmont Forever Yogurt location also features a train tracker that informs guests when the next train will be arriving at the nearby stop.
MO: If you had to start again is there anything that you would do differently?
Mandy: If Forever Yogurt started over, I would put a higher focus on franchise development. I would want an experienced franchise executive who could further our network relations in the franchise industry. This could have saved Forever Yogurt a lot of time with getting into the franchising industry.
MO: What’s your favorite thing to order from Forever Yogurt?
Mandy: I go through moods, but right now I am really enjoying our Orchard Cherry frozen yogurt. I like to top my treat off with raspberry truffles sprinkled on the sides and then top it off with fresh cherries.
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