Frozen yogurt treats hint at franchise possibilities

Frozen yogurt treats hint at franchise possibilities

June 28th, 2011 by Ellis Smith in Business Around the Region

Top It Off co-owners Zach Smith, left, and Tyler Forrest talk about rotating 10 different frozen yogurts and 50 toppings every two weeks to keep their customers interested at the Broad Street shop.

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

• Name: Top It Off

• Location: 401 Broad St., in the former Rock Point Books building at the corner of Fourth and Broad streets.

• Products/services: The company offers 10 flavors of gravity-fed frozen yogurt, differentiated from the more widely available pressure-fed yogurt by its creaminess and intense flavor. Owners Zach Smith and Tyler Forrest rotate the flavors and 50 toppings every two weeks, and offer a variety of hot and cold syrups in their art deco-inspired downtown storefront. While they won't give out the secret of where their yogurt comes from, they claim it's nothing like what's available elsewhere in Chattanooga.

• Age: Launched June 10

• Startup investment: $175,000

• Estimated annual sales: $400,000

• Target market: Women 18 to 50 are the primary customer, but Smith and Forrest designed the restaurant not to be overly feminine to appeal to a broader demographic.

• Biggest hurdle: Getting the requisite permits from the city, and dealing with the fact that "everyone gives you different answers" was the hardest part, Forrest said. "Other than that, it was a breeze."

• Biggest reward: Seeing repeat customers bringing in their friends and family to try the frozen yogurt.

• Challenges in the future: They've already had eight franchise requests. As the duo look to franchise their concept, the legal paperwork increases exponentially, they said.

• Lesson learned: "Everybody said we couldn't get it open by June 10, with everything that's involved in the construction and permitting process, but we were well prepared," Smith said. "We opened just four hours late on June 10."

• Five-year goal: In five years, they'd like to own 10 stores and have 20 franchised locations.

- Compiled by staff writer Ellis Smith, esmith@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6315