Restaurant industry veteran and area developer discusses Cold Stone Creamery’s Culture and History
Steve England, a Cold Stone Creamery® Area Developer in California, has seen a lot of change in his 16 years with the brand. He speaks with pride about the high level of support Kahala Brands™ provides franchisees, especially during challenging times.
“My goal is to support the franchise community and help them understand the operating procedures that make their businesses succeed,” says England, whose industry experience includes helping open over 40 plus different restaurants across a few concepts.
Cold Stone Creamery franchise now has nearly 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.
England shares how the supportive culture at Cold Stone Creamery intentionally guides franchisees on the path to success.
What gets you excited every day about working for Cold Stone and with franchisees?
I’m very passionate about the brand and our community. It’s always evolving and changing. I learn something new every day. It never gets old. During my years with Cold Stone Creamery I’ve pretty much seen a new generation come in and I’ve had to evolve my approach and how we stay relevant.
How advantageous is it to be part of a franchise system and have that support?
I think one of the biggest things that people need to know is that we are looking out for them.
Kahala Brands has been very good to the franchise owners, helping them with communication, marketing support, research and development,, and with their accounting systems. We try to stay in touch with the franchise community. We probably overload them with information, but again we want them to have that knowledge of everything and anything that we get and keep them informed because they’re engaged in their businesses even more than usual. The franchisees don’t have the time to research all of the most recent developments so we try to put that information in their laps and be supportive. We are also trying to get in the stores more frequently now and support them that way.
How do you help franchisees grow?
There are several things that I really try to work towards to be a good support person. One is to create awareness and help maintain the brand standards in our stores. Kahala Brands has amazing standards that have been key to successful operators over the last 30+ years.
We strive to keep consistency in our community to help the franchise owners stay strong in terms of the standards of operations, all the way from the simplest thing of putting a date on an item, to decor and finishes in a location and signage. You name it. We offer help with it.
I also aim to be accessible any time day or night. We get back very quickly with the simplest things and even the biggest things. We generally hold four market meetings a year to help the regions and have market specific meetings discussing everything from current economic status to changes going on within our company. I think just those things alone are pretty helpful in our community to help them feel comfortable in knowing that if they are in a bind they can come to us for advice. We certainly don’t have all the answers, but do our best to provide them.
Can you explain the benefit of being part of a franchise as opposed to going out on your own?
When you look at the long term, and I have owned a restaurant and I know many people who come from outside a franchise world, independent owners end up going to multiple outside sources for all the information and resources they need to operate. This is all information and support a franchise system provides. Franchisees also have the benefit of a proven brand that can work great. Huge difference.
What was it about Kahala Brands that made you want to work with them?
It’s just different. When I joined Kahala they were still growing Cold Stone Creamery pretty aggressively and were kind of setting their own culture and market. I wanted the opportunity to help with that. One of the things I love to do is work with, teach and show people how to run a business and do it well. I’m able to do that with Cold Stone Creamery.
Is your role more focused on ongoing support or initial training?
The initial training is set forth by our training stores and includes the day to day running of a store, operations, things they will be training their staff and crew on, etc. Information such as market mapping and things of that nature they’ll get when they go to Arizona which is the Kahala Brands technical training center. So they get the ground work there. And then from that point on once they get into the store we support everything from getting accounts set up to all of their accountability systems and day to day operations, guidance, support, resources and follow up that they need to help them be a success. So it’s more of a continued support that we provide.
Are there any typical challenges or concerns that rise with new franchisees or those expanding?
The biggest challenge is getting them to understand the commitment needed to be successful in a small business. Going after that discretionary dollar is tough and takes commitment. We look for a franchise owner who is interested in taking over a store and who is going to really work hard and be diligent. I put them in touch with people who I’ve worked with for many years who are successful. And even with all those steps it still can be challenging. But that is by far the biggest challenge that we talk about — commitment.
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