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Self-Serve Yogurt Makers Becoming More Popular- Milkshake Maker _____________________________________________________________________________________

By Critera Singh-

The recession has affected everything from consumer driving habits to where people live. Nearly all the news we hear is negative- stores are closing, more people are unemployed, and millions of consumers are falling into debt. One industry that seems to have benefited rather than suffered from the economic crisis is frozen desserts. Yogurt makers are flying out of manufacturer warehouses into shops all over the country. Since 2003, the frozen dessert industry has grown by 16 percent, becoming a $12.1 billion business. Frozen yogurt is responsible for much of this growth. Researchers say that customers perceive it as both affordable and healthy, in addition to being much tastier than it was just five years ago.

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Self-serve machines that dispense soft serve ice cream and frozen yogurt represent a smart entrepreneurial move. At the same time, the International Franchising Association was reporting a 10,000 decline in franchise establishments two years ago, it was also reporting growth in the frozen

dessert sector. Suppliers of pre-made and custom-made frozen yogurt are in high demand these days, experiencing double-digit increases in sales. Single-unit stores represent the majority of new business for many of these suppliers. It costs over $400,000 to open a frozen dessert franchise but only between $3,500 and $25,000 to buy a machine. With several supplies and accessories, any store can become an independent retailer of frozen treats such as frozen yogurt, soft serve ice cream, milkshakes, and smoothies. If workers do not make the yogurt or ice cream themselves, the storeowner orders pre-made products from one of several suppliers.

Customers enjoy making their desserts one-of-a-kind, so accessories like a toppings bar and syrup dispensers are recommended. Once the store is operational, it does not require many employees. Having one person to weigh the desserts and take customer payments and someone else to clean and maintain the machines and keep inventory well-stocked should be sufficient. Buying a few yogurt makers and setting up shop in a local strip mall or downtown area could be the entrepreneurial idea of the decade. A self-serve shop can be a win-win for both customers, who can make treats to their liking, and the storeowner, who is faced with minimal labor requirements. How sweet it is to see an industry flourish in this economy.

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