With five stores in 15 years, South Florida franchise owner loves her ice cream businesses
Cold Stone Creamery® multi-unit franchise owner Ruth Spiegel never thought she’d be spending retirement behind an ice cream counter. In 2002, she and her husband, Fred, were living in sunny Florida enjoying their waterfront home after selling their New York business and moving south.
A call from her son and daughter-in-law, though, interrupted their retirement plans. “We were avid boaters and had retired to Florida. My son and daughter-in-law lived in the San Francisco Bay area and went into a Cold Stone Creamery there. They said they wanted us to check it out. If we liked it and would agree to open one, they said they’d move to Florida. That was the hook!”
Spiegel and her family opened their first Cold Stone Creamery franchise in 2003. Fifteen years later, they own five stores in South Florida. Four of them are in Broward County, and one is in northwest Dade. The second store opened in 2004, they purchased an existing store in 2005, and the fourth store opened in 2006. The fifth store is co-branded with a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory®; it opened in 2009.
As a Cold Stone Creamery franchise veteran, Spiegel has a great deal of wisdom to offer those entrepreneurs who are considering opening a Cold Stone Creamery franchise. We spent a few minutes with her recently to find out more about her experience.
Q: What do you like best about being a Cold Stone Creamery franchisee?
Down here in South Florida, the product works really well. Certainly, in some regions of the country, you have to be creative in managing your business to stay profitable, but in south Florida, if you’ve got a good location, you’re a good operator, and you stay on top of your business, you can increase your probability of growth.
I love the product, and I love the excitement of our customers who enjoy the product. We do off-site catering, and everybody gets very excited when we show up. It’s better than being a mortician, an insurance salesman or a tax collector! It’s a happy product.
Q: What attributes does somebody need to be a success in this business?
I think the No. 1 thing someone needs to understand is what a franchise system is. They need to be very clear about their relationship as franchisee to franchisor. If you understand and embrace it, you can increase the likelihood of growth. If you try to change it, that won’t work. They came up with a great concept, and we bought into it. We’ve known from the very beginning that, essentially, we are part of something that’s bigger than ourselves.
Q: What are the greatest rewards in running your business?
We have a family business; there are four of us. It’s my husband, myself, my son and daughter-in-law. Everybody has their own unique functional expertise. We also have a good team in place. We have a territory manager, who is an important part of the operations. We try to place good managers in each store. My husband’s previous business also was a family business, so we seem to be comfortable with that organizational structure.
I’ve also become very involved in the community and become affiliated with several organizations that have been motivating to me. I’ve met a lot of visible women who are movers and shakers down here in South Florida. When you get involved in the community as a business owner in a leadership role, then you have to have that opportunity. It’s been neat and something that I really enjoy.
Q: Fifteen years ago, did you think you’d be doing this today?
No. I’m amazed it’s been 15 years! But after my son called, we decided to give it a shot. Five stores, 15 years later, and we’ve got a good business. Our story is an indication that you just never know. If opportunities avail themselves — and you’re lucky enough to see them as opportunities — you embrace them.
Q: What makes Cold Stone Creamery stand out from your competitors?
We make everything in the store — our own cakes, cupcakes and ice cream sandwiches. We have control of the quality, which is really important. When I go visit friends, I always bring some Cold Stone Creamery ice cream to them. We went to a friend’s house the other night for dinner, and I brought a couple of the new flavors. And I’m sitting there saying to myself, “Now I remember why we got into this business. We offer an excellent and delicious product.” We are a fabulous frozen dessert concept. And we provide The Ultimate Ice Cream Experience®.
Q: Why is now a good time for somebody to invest in a Cold Stone Creamery franchise?
We are a concept that has withstood the test of time. Cold Stone Creamery started in 1988, and it’s growing internationally at a great rate. The reason it’s growing like that is that there’s demand. Our brand’s product is excellent, and we emphasize customer service. Those are the elements in any formula that help promote growth.
It’s a good time to join Cold Stone Creamery if you’re energetic, hard-working and excited about your product. If you’ve got those qualities, it’s a great time to join.
Q: What has your Cold Stone Creamery franchise meant to you?
In my previous career, I was a university teacher. Owning this business has demonstrated to me that you can be successful in almost any endeavor. If you’re excited, you’re willing to learn about something, and you’re willing to work hard — you can’t get away from the hard work — then you can really enjoy how you spend your time. That’s an important part of it.
We enjoy our crew, and we enjoy implementing new ideas, promotions and initiatives. There’s always something new to train your employees on to make your business more efficient. I continue to enjoy that.
When I think about the alternative, I can’t imagine not being involved in some fun work activity, which is something I’ve always done. I love teaching, I also did consulting, and I love doing what I’m doing now.
Now is the time to open a Cold Stone Creamery franchise
Doing business for 30 years, Cold Stone Creamery has become a national institution, beloved for offering The Ultimate Ice Cream Experience®. Our brand’s super-premium ice cream is made fresh in more than 1,000 locations in the United States and in hundreds of other locations around the world. We are actively recruiting new franchisees to open stores in territories from coast to coast.