The company’s largest franchise owner discusses his love for the brand and his growing franchise group
It’s been almost four years since Kyle Welch bought his first Cold Stone Creamery® franchise in Chicago. In that short time, Welch’s franchise group, Chicago Scoops, has grown to 42 stores in 11 states. His goal is to grow Chicago Scoops to 100 units.
Welch, already a hospitality industry veteran in his early 30s, recently discussed his background and his business with us.
Q: How did you get started with Cold Stone Creamery?
A: I went to college at Michigan State University and studied hospitality business. I always wanted to work in restaurants, and I wanted to be a business owner. After college, I moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, and worked for a very large restaurant management company. When I worked there, they had about 300 units; today they have a little more than 450 units.
I left there when I was 25 in 2012 to start my own franchise group with Little Caesars®. We actually sold that last year.
My goal has always been to build a large restaurant management company that runs franchises professionally, creates great jobs and harbors great opportunities for people. In 2014, we started Chicago Scoops, and today we own 42 Cold Stone Creamery franchises. We are the largest franchisee in the whole brand.
Q: What do you like best about Cold Stone Creamery?
A: I’ve owned other franchises and worked in several brands. What drew me to Cold Stone Creamery? It’s the Ultimate Ice Cream Experience®. When people come into our store, they come in happy. They are celebrating — an anniversary, birthday, soccer game, a first date, whatever it may be — and they leave even happier because we serve them the best ice cream in the world.
So first, the amazing customer experience really drew me in. Second, we make the ice cream fresh every day using an Italian ice cream machine in the back of the store. Everyone that comes in the store believes that Cold Stone Creamery is the best ice cream, and it’s the freshness factor that sets us apart. Cold Stone Creamery is unlike any other brand.
Q: What would you tell someone who is looking at Cold Stone Creamery for the first time?
A: My advice to anyone looking to own a Cold Stone Creamery franchise is that you have to be willing to treat your business like a full-service restaurant. You have to manage it as a restaurant and make investments in your business in order to grow it. Your primary expenses are food costs and labor, and it’s a fine line between knowing how to manage expenses while still making investments. Some potential owners may think, “I’m going to buy this thing, and it will run itself.” And that’s not true! This is a business with a lot of working pieces that require involvement and attention daily.
Q: How does Kahala Brands™, help franchisees?
A: Kahala Brands is fantastic! They provide upfront training and ongoing support, and they really care about upholding the integrity and standards of their brand. Our brand’s ice cream is not the cheapest ice cream in the world, and we know that. We’re held to high expectations of service and quality, and Kahala Brands puts that first. That was the first thing I noticed that made me comfortable about partnering with Kahala Brands to build a big business. They care so much about their brands.
I think the training that a new franchisee gets is wonderful. Kahala Brands is there for you in the beginning and throughout the process. They are only a phone call or email away. They have a Regional Director of Operations in every region, and the access to help is there. They care; they really care. I think that’s the reason Cold Stone Creamery is such a powerhouse today — because of the way Kahala Brands treats the brand.
Q: How would you advise someone who’d like to own multiple Cold Stone Creamery franchises?
A: Whether you have plans for one or two or 42 or more, we all start at the same place — with a single unit. I started with just one store. If I can do it, anyone can do it!
If you want to grow beyond that, you have to be ready to treat your business like a professional organization. You’ve got to be willing to delegate to and lean on others. You need to make an up-front investment to grow effectively — especially an investment in people. Multi-unit ownership is a wonderful way to build an income for yourself, to grow an organization and to help others.
Q: What does the future hold for you and Chicago Scoops?
A: This year, we’ve already acquired five locations in the first quarter. 2018 will be a year of growth and scale. The ultimate goal is to build to 100 units, be a great partner to Kahala Brands and help serve the best ice cream in the world to all of our communities.
Q: What has Cold Stone Creamery meant to you?
A: Cold Stone Creamery has given me a platform to build my dream business, and I really mean that. The culture that Cold Stone Creamery creates is fun and exciting. It has enabled our company’s leadership team and myself to create a similar culture in Chicago Scoops, and that’s been our secret sauce. That culture that originates with Cold Stone Creamery directly translates to our company; it’s allowed us to build our business and to grow so quickly.
Learn more about Cold Stone Creamery franchise opportunities
For in-depth details about the Cold Stone Creamery franchise opportunity, visit the Cold Stone Creamery franchise research pages or call us at 877-948-1853.