Why a former network engineering professional felt compelled to leave that career to become a multi-unit owner with Cold Stone Creamery franchise
Prior to franchising with Cold Stone Creamery, Josh Cook had spent two decades working for Verizon as a network engineer. In 2015, Cook sought another opportunity that would allow him more flexibility so that he could spend quality time with his family. Although business ownership wasn’t at the top of mind for Cook and his wife, a neighbor was looking to sell the Cold Stone Creamery franchise he owned and operated, which was located just five minutes from their house. As first-time business owners, the Cooks knew they didn’t want to start from scratch, so investing in a brand that would help them chart a successful path to business ownership was paramount.
Our 32-year-old brand delivers the Ultimate Ice Cream Experience® through a community of franchisees who are passionate about ice cream. With nearly 1,000 locations globally, our smooth and creamy ice cream is handcrafted fresh daily in store, and is then customized by combining a variety of mix-ins on a frozen granite stone. With our iconic ice creamery, franchisees benefit from a relatively low cost of entry, as well as a business model that can be easy to scale, works to maximize profitability and provides ongoing support and training over the long-term.
The Cooks found this to be true after opening their first store in central Florida in 2016. Four years later, they have scaled to seven locations and have plans to expand in the future.
“I retired from Verizon in 2018, at which point my wife and I owned three stores,” says Cook. “We then decided to purchase two additional stores, bought another store, and recently opened a 4th new store this year in Riverview, Florida. Cold Stone’s business model is truly simple to operate and easy to scale. The best part is that although Cold Stone Creamery has been in business for more than three decades, there is still a lot of opportunity for growth, especially in the central Florida market, which I hope to capture.”
Below you will read about Cook’s personal story with Cold Stone Creamery.
Why did you choose Cold Stone Creamery? Did you look at any other concepts?
Cook: As first time business owners, my wife and I checked out a lot of concepts. We didn’t understand what it took to run a business and how much time was needed to make a business successful, so we needed a brand that would support us and show us how things would be done. After finding out about the Cold Stone Creamery location our neighbor was selling, we did our due diligence and everything just seemed to fall into place. We ended up choosing Cold Stone Creamery because it was five minutes from our home, the numbers looked good from a profitability perspective, and they offered powerhouse support. It turned out to be one of the best decisions we ever made.
How was your initial training? Did you feel Cold Stone Creamery provided you with the tools you needed to succeed?
Cook: Absolutely. We trained in a franchisee’s store for two weeks learning about the business model and the day-to-day operations. We learned how to make the ice cream, how to build and decorate cakes, and how to demonstrate our value to the customer. Additionally, we had business training in Arizona. There we learned about marketing and received financial coaching, which is important in the winter because ice cream sales slow down then.
One of the things I really like about Cold Stone Creamery is that they have a really great national marketing program, and marketing is an area that I feel I am not strong in. Knowing I’m part of a franchise system that has a great marketing team and platform comforts me because they are able to compensate for that.
What makes Cold Stone Creamery such a good, scalable business?
Cook: I’ve always been a person who’s been interested in growth and expansion. The thing about Cold Stone is that they have developed great systems and processes, and they are unique in their category. People can go buy ice cream anywhere, but they come to Cold Stone for an experience. Not only do we make our ice cream fresh, but we can also customize the ice cream however you like it. Additionally, they have favorable food costs. As long as you operate within the boundaries of their systems and processes, your stores can be profitable and you can scale.
Would you recommend Cold Stone Creamery to other entrepreneurs looking for a business opportunity?
Cook: Absolutely. You have to have the right mindset to prosper in this business. I talk to many entrepreneurs about it and I let them know Cold Stone is a hands-on business. One of the big things you want to do is try to be the mayor of your community. By that I mean you really want your store to be the focal point because that is how you really generate revenue. This also ties into being a good leader and cultivating a culture where your crew feels empowered and are continuously trained. For example, I can’t personally be in all of my stores at one time, however, my crew helps me be the mayor in the areas where my stores operate. So, as long as you’re willing to dedicate yourself to the business and brand, I highly recommend Cold Stone Creamery.
What are you most proud of?
Cook: The first thing I’m proud of is being able to retire from corporate America, which has given me a much more flexible schedule. I have an eight and a six year old, so getting to spend time with them has been phenomenal. Secondly, we’ve done really well increasing the revenue in the existing stores we have purchased to the point where the profitability has gone up enough that I can spend even more time with my family because I don’t have to be in store all the time.
Why can now be a good time to invest in a Cold Stone Creamery?
Cook: Cold Stone Creamery is a franchise that can allow you to have a flexible schedule, be your own boss, and can give you the potential to earn a living for yourself and your family. Having said that, it all comes down to being dedicated to the business and wanting to work with the company. If you’re willing to do that you can earn a good living. Additionally, Cold Stone’s brand name recognition is very strong. This means that when you open a new location, people will come in the door. In regards to business, there are very few costs you have complete control over. But compared to other brands, you can control your food costs very well at Cold Stone.
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