TCBY franchisee and Fort Collins resident Jenny Brynteson has an unusual marketing tactic that has helped her two TCBY stores (FoCo and Greeley) rank #3 and #4 in sales nationwide – kids.
Instead of textbook marketing strategies like newsletter campaigns and local ads, Jenny has tapped into the local schools through field days, class parties, and fairs to reach young frozen yogurt fans. She says that by helping kids write cards or play games on free TCBY coupons for Halloween, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, foot traffic and awareness of the store has spread steadily helping launch her to the top of TCBY’s sales charts. Meanwhile, kiddos have the freedom to make their own treat with TCBY’s self-serve machines and compare orders after school with their friends.
Below, Jenny discusses how her unique approach to marketing has helped her corner her own share of the frozen yogurt market, while continuing to give back to the community that has helped her thrive.
Q: Tell us a little about your background in business. How did you become an entrepreneur and what education or experiences helped you get here?
A: I grew up in a family of car dealers, with my great-grandfather, grandfather, and father owning and running a dealership that was started in 1922. After we married, my husband joined the team as General Manager while I was occupied raising our four children. I was involved in the dealership on a minimum level during my childhood, but very much enjoyed the competitive nature of the car business. In my primary years, I went to a fledgling school that required a bit of fundraising to support the extra programs required to keep the school running. I was a natural when it came to raising money, and loved the idea of being #1 in sales or fundraising. I cold called to raise money for jog-a-thons, called friends and family on land lines to sell Christmas wreaths during the holidays, and thrived on the idea of being at the top, and often was. I went to college, received a degree in Health and Exercise Science, and loved the aspect of my education that focused on helping people to be their best while building teams.
Q: What inspired you to go the franchise route and why TCBY? What did you have to invest to get started in this business? How did you acquire the necessary capital?
A: I stumbled upon TCBY, and owning a franchise, when we sold our car dealership in 2005 after 85 years. My father was in the habit of taking my children for an evening treat and one evening he brought the kids home from a visit to TCBY, only to give my family devastating news that our local shop would be closing their doors. We were so sad, as the location we took for granted for so many years would no longer be there. As it happened, we had a little money that we could invest from the sale of the car dealership. Over the next year the idea came to us that we should reopen TCBY. My children were nearly out of the house, the market was right, and the self-serve frozen yogurt concept was new and fresh for our area.
Q: Tell us about the marketing strategy that's led you to your current success. How does it work and how did you come up with the idea?
A: Our target market is families, women between the ages of 20-45, and their children. We have chosen to connect to our community by becoming involved in various school functions such as field days, fun runs, back to school events, and run teacher appreciation weeks. We feel that by expressing genuine appreciation and interest in our teachers and the children of our community, we gain an invaluable relationship that builds friendship and trust. These relationships are what we believe are key to our success.
Q: Are there any local resources that helped you in gaining funding, learning to run your business, or getting support and advice?
A: I’ve chosen to be on the Franchisee Board of Directors over the last three to four years and have benefited greatly as I’ve listened and learned from the other members, as well as the women at Famous Brands who work tirelessly at the corporate level to build our company and make the Franchise owners around the country more profitable. My store manager, Shannon, and I have learned together over the past eight years by trial and error, and have gained confidence through our experiences to risk making mistakes and go with our instincts sometimes.
Q: Do you have a support group of women?
A: I have several small groups of women who encourage and support me, and I draw a lot of support from Shannon (my store manger), my wonderful ladies at Famous Brands, and my husband who keeps our books running smoothly when he isn’t working on his own career as an attorney.
Q: What's next for you as you continue to grow as a business owner?
A: I am looking forward to cultivating my relationship with both the Fort Collins and Greeley communities.
Q: What advice can you share for those considering a franchise or starting their own business?
A: We have learned that by giving, we receive. By that, I mean that there is a benefit in being generous. We donate product, give coupons, and are not afraid to delight our customers with special days like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and National Frozen Yogurt Day when we give things away, and show honor and appreciation to our customer base. It always comes back to us when we are genuine and personable with people. If you don’t love people, hire a staff who does to be the face of your business. I’ve met business owners who don’t participate in these national events and are afraid to give too much. I believe it limits their success.
Our Success begins and ends essentially with maintaining a clean shop and training (and raising) a friendly and reliable staff. I credit Shannon for hiring and training a staff who are loyal to us and each other, and who have become a good team while welcoming new employees into the mix. Our retention rate is very good when you consider that we hire mostly high school and college age people. We have had quite a few over the years who start with us at 16 and have stayed right through college! We have a reputation for being a positive work environment and are a coveted place to work.