A longtime love of the brand made it the obvious choice for this entrepreneur when he began to explore small-business ownership opportunities
When Josh Davis and his wife built a home near Amelia Island, Florida, they had plans to build a family — and a business. While exploring their options, they came across an existing Cold Stone Creamery ice cream franchise, and given their history with the brand, they leapt at the opportunity to own it.
Why did you decide to become a Cold Stone Creamery franchise owner?
My wife and I first went to Cold Stone Creamery when we were in high school. We would talk about how great it would be own a franchise. Fast-forward 10 years, and we had the opportunity to purchase one already in operation in a nice area on Amelia Island in 2017. It had been open since 2004, so it was very well established.
What do you like best about being a Cold Stone franchisee?
Getting to know the local community through the store, being a member of the community and being able to give back. We get to know the people in the community that our kids go to school with that we would normally not get to meet.
What attributes should a Cold Stone franchise owner have?
This is a difficult concept to operate from a distance. To be successful, you need to be in the day-to-day operations. You need to dig in and know the process and train your crew properly. This business requires a more hands-on approach.
You’re in Florida; what would you say to someone who wants to open a store in a colder climate?
Cold Stone Creamery is all over the country, so you don’t have to be a warm climate to be profitable. You’ll probably have a higher sales volume in a warmer climate, but there’s definitely some northern locations that are high-volume stores. You’re serving ice cream whether it’s warm or cold outside, so people are going to come out for it when they want it.
What does your typical day look like?
When we first took over, we were open seven days a week. We were so focused on the business — we wanted to get in there and make sure things were being done the right way and really establish a culture of dedication to the brand. You have to be the example for the crew, so they’ll want to be involved and have more of a stake in it. We thought it was important to be there every day, to make sure things were done right, to be the example for the rest of the crew. As we got through our first year of business, we started to take Sundays off, and we only work until 4 p.m. on Saturdays — so we basically take a day and a half off.
We go in every day at 9 a.m., and we prep. We start making ice cream if it’s an ice-cream-making day. We’ll make waffles, do all the things needed to prep for the day, and then we work there into the evening and when our kids are out of school.
My wife is the general manager, and she handles the operational side and does all the cake decorating. I do all the business development and marketing.
What does Cold Stone Creamery do as a company to help you succeed?
I like to think of the relationship as them doing the things that we don’t have the ability to do, like initiating prices for our products and handling national marketing. Those are the things they help us with, and they act as the gatekeepers to the brand. They’re vetting potential franchise owners and keeping the brand strong that way.
Also, Cold Stone has been around for 30 years, and when we bought into it, we knew that it was a mature brand with a strong supply chain. The problem you run into with newer concepts is they don’t have well-negotiated or strong supply chain distribution channels. Prices fluctuate, and it’s hard to keep your costs under control — and sometimes it’s hard to get product. If you’re selling hamburgers and you can’t get the buns, that’s a problem. So that’s a big deal and another one of the ways they help us. A lot of people don’t like to factor that in, but that’s what you get with a mature brand.
What would you tell an interested potential franchisee?
Do your own market research and understand what an ice cream business is — and what it’s not. I would also say that it’s not a brand that you buy and then manage it remotely, so if that’s your intention, I wouldn’t encourage you toward Cold Stone.
If you don’t want to work for somebody else, and you like the idea of being in a business where you get to know your community and of being part of a business that people enjoy going to, then I would say it’s a good opportunity.
But the bottom line is that you’re not just going to get in there and have an “if you build it, they will come” situation. You build it and then you get in there and grow it. And work it. It just doesn’t happen overnight.
What are the greatest rewards in owning a Cold Stone?
Being an important member of the community. We chose to settle here for a reason. We have young kids that go to school. Their teachers say, “Your parents own Cold Stone, that’s really cool.” What else can I say? The brand carries a lot of weight. We are a valued member of the community.
What makes Cold Stone different than competitors?
First is the quality of the product. We can say we make almost all of our products in the store. We make it — we have the quality control locally; you can taste it. People know us by our quality.
Second is the experience. If you live by the Cold Stone mission statement, and you do those things that are part of the culture of the brand, then customers have a phenomenal experience and they come back.
What’s next in your Cold Stone journey?
We are in the process of opening our second location, which will be co-branded with Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. We’re really excited. We’re looking at opening in early summer in Yulee, Florida, just north of Jacksonville. It’s about eight miles west of our existing location.
We will be near I-95, and we’ll be able to get signage on it. We’re at the gateway to Florida, so everybody coming into the state that way will pass our sign. That’s pretty cool.
Cold Stone Creamery franchise now has more than 1,000 stores in the United States and a
presence in nearly 30 international markets. We still have optimal territory available for new franchise expansion and development. Based in Scottsdale, Arizona, Cold Stone Creamery is owned by parent company Kahala Brands™, one of the world’s fastest-growing franchising
companies with a portfolio of 28 quick-service restaurant concepts.
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