There’s a FROG epidemic invading America! Since 2009, the Southeastern region of the United States has been experiencing an explosion in the population of FROGS. That is, location upon location of SweetFrog, a frozen yogurt chain that is growing by leaps and bounds every day. In this Q&A segment of Views from the Tree, Victor DiPace, director of marketing and branding for the enormously popular yogurt chain, shares some insight about why SweetFrog has been so dominant in the frozen yogurt market, and the meaning behind the FROG.
Victor DiPace (VD)
Director of Marketing & Branding
730 Research, Suite C
Janae Morris (JM): What inspired the creation of Sweet Frog Frozen Yogurt?
VD: A desire to create a business model that would be relatively cost-effective to start-up and simple to run. Since we began operations during a recession, we wanted to make sure the business we chose would be inexpensive for customers so that families would be able to enjoy the product during tough economic times. Our utmost desire was to create a brand that would be synonymous with family and fun.
JM:What do you think is the key to your franchising success?
VD: We have the best brand in the business, led by our frog mascots Scoop & Cookie, and we have the creamiest, most flavorful product in the market served in a family- friendly setting with a dash of the FROG.
JM: If SweetFrog could create any froyo flavor that does not currently exist, what would it be?
VD: Since the flavor is in the developmental stages, I can’t say but it’s delicious!
JM: How long have you been in business?
VD: We began operations in April of 2009 at our first store in Short Pump, Virginia.
JM: Have you considered expanding your menu options or are you dedicated to frozen yogurt?
VD: We have discussed other menu options but have decided to dedicate our efforts towards making and maintaining the best, creamiest and most flavorful frozen yogurt available in the market.
JM: What is the main thing you would want people to know about SweetFrog Frozen Yogurt?
VD: We live and breathe our product. We work tirelessly at perfecting our flavors and delivering a consistently superior product to our customers in every store, every day. We believe in creating an atmosphere in our stores where anyone will feel comfortable bringing their family in to enjoy the SweetFrog experience. We strongly believe in giving back to the community. We do this through community outreach activities featuring our frog mascots (Scoop & Cookie) and their matching frogmobiles. We also believe in the power of the FROG.
JM: What are the overall business goals of SweetFrog?
VD: We are a Richmond-based company, so we want to celebrate this by being the #1 supplier of premium frozen yogurt in our hometown market.We are now in the process of making SweetFrog a top national brand using the same dedication to our brand, our product, families and the FROG to help get us there.We also plan on going international in the not-too-distant future.
JM: What drives/inspires SweetFrog business operations amid the growing froyo craze and phenomenal amount of rising competition?
VD: A strong belief in our product, our brand and the customer loyalty engendered by them. We hear time and time again how much our customers love going to SweetFrog, and listen with rapt attention as they describe their favorite fro yo creations to us in loving detail. That in itself is the fuel that drives our engine.
JM: Does SweetFrog sponsor any events/charities? If so, what kind?
VD:Yes we do.We try to help as many people and organizations as we can, large and small. Our primary focus is children, but we also work with organizations that serve all people. SweetFrog currently sponsors 19 children from Burundi through an organization called Food for the Hungry. Our goal is to sponsor 100 children.We feature them on our website and have issued a challenge to all SweetFrog fans, join in helping these children by sponsoring one yourself. Send us your story and we will publish it on our website.We also do continuing work with the following organizations on various activities, events and fundraisers: American Cancer Society, Special Olympics, Multiple Sclerosis Society, IOU Richmond Interfaith Outreach, Young Life, Victory Games, Starlight Foundation and monthly visits to the Children’s Hospital of Richmond. Outreach is an extremely rewarding aspect of our business. It provides us the opportunity to see our good efforts at work and to meet some of the special people we are able to help.
JM: Is there an occurrence/business blooper you would most like to forget?
VD: I’m sure there is but I can’t remember it.
JM:What do you think sets you apart from other frozen yogurt chains?
VD: SweetFrog has an extremely loyal following. We have achieved that by delivering the creamiest, tastiest product in the industry, our strong FROG brand led by our mascots and our commitment to family values and family fun.We believe in providing families with an enjoyable, memorable experience every time they come into a SweetFrog store.
JM: How did you come up with the name SweetFrog for your business?
VD: Derek, our CEO and founder, wrote out the words FROZEN YOGURT and began isolating letters, which led him to the word FROG. He instantly liked the idea of frogs being part of the brand. Since we are a Christian- based company he was determined to have the name FROG spell this out. He ultimately landed on the phrase Fully Rely On God. He then combined the word Sweet for the yogurt and the Frog acronym to elucidate the Fully Rely On God statement. That’s how the SweetFrog name and brand were born.
JM: What is one of your most rewarding experiences/greatest success stories?
VD:The explosive growth of the business has been great. It’s nice to know people truly connect with our brand and product.This tells us we made the right decision in going with frozen yogurt as a business venture.The most rewarding part of our growth though, is the people we have been able to help through our outreach efforts. As the business has grown, it has provided us with increased visibility, which has directly translated into more opportunities for us to help people, which is what we love to do.