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"Energy is the essence of life. Every day you decide how you're going to use it by knowing what you want and what it takes to reach that goal, and by maintaining focus." Oprah Winfrey


Service 101 - How To Be Brilliant

Dear Frozen Yogurt Entrepreneur,
"Business is trouble," a wise grandfather used to say. "And if you don't like trouble, don't get into business." His advice is as down to earth as home plate. After all, what's more troublesome and perplexing in business than customer service? And conversely, what's more beneficial to a company's bottom line? So let's review the fundamentals of revenue-generating customer care. Read 'em and reap:

Remember who really owns your business. Everything you will ever have is currently in the hands of someone else: your customers. In fact, most businesses fail when they lose sight of that reality, and start focusing more on marketing and the stock market than customer maintenance. We'd all be wise to heed a sign I saw in a Wichita, KS restaurant (Angelo's) 10 years ago: "Our business is run for the enjoyment and pleasure of our customers, not for the convenience of the staff or the owners."

To sell is to serve. As surely as service is your invisible product, its sales that feeds the bulldog. Improve service all you want, but if your service strategies are not DNA-ed to sales growth, your profits will surely shrink as small as the period that ends this sentence. There's a lot of ways to say it, but maybe notable 19th century raconteur and restaurateur "Diamond" Jim Brady put it best in 1899: "You can have the best product in the world, but if you can't sell it, you've still got it!"

My customer is anyone who isn't me. Your employees are your first market, and the best supervisors manage with an attitude of gratitude, knowing to never treat a customer better than they treat an employee.

Training is a philosophy, not a department. If service is the nail, training is the hammer. The more you spend on training, the less you spend on advertising. And if you think training is expensive, try ignorance.

Brains, like hearts, go where they are appreciated. Your Mom was right: all behavior is the result of consequences. What you reinforce is what you get. Smart supervisors recognize their performers daily with small, unexpected rewards for jobs well done. Little things like a simple thank you in front of peers, Payday candy bars for team efforts, letting them off early or a "get out of work free" card pays off with employee loyalty and retention. And by the way, you don't have to recognize all your employees; just the ones you want to keep.

Lead from the middle. The best supervisors direct, manage and instigate team energy, not just "productivity". A leader is never "energy-neutral"; you are either giving people energy or draining it from them. Choose: are you (or your managers) a fountain or a drain? Hire nice people. Why? Because training people to be nice is tough. Hire the attitude, train the skill. We've always preached that every time you hire someone you're adding to your marketing team. So next time you're considering a new candidate, ask yourself: "am I hiring to fill a slot, or to make a difference?" It's only logical that the best way to both improve service and tame turnover is to hire the right person in the first place.

Today's consumers are choice-rich and service-poor, so here's your niche for the 21st century: abundant customer care. In summary: Keep it fresh, keep it focused and keep it fun. Oh, and remember to say thank you.


How Hot is the Frozen Yogurt Market?

Mark your calendar: National Frozen Yogurt Month begins June 1. To celebrate, a national frozen yogurt store chain, is serving up the results of its first annual Frozen Yogurt survey. Based on the findings, it appears that throngs of national frozen yogurt fanatics will be celebrating in June—and beyond—as frozen yogurt continues to gain in popularity.

  • Nearly 79 percent of snackers shared that they prefer frozen yogurt to ice cream

  • More than 45 percent eat frozen yogurt at least one once a month

  • Nearly 95 percent consider frozen yogurt to be a better-for-you dessert and snack alternative to ice cream; more than half also cited frozen yogurt as their top choice for dessert over candy, cake and cookies

  • Over 2/3 will pay up to $6 for a serving of premium frozen yogurt

  • Almost 44 percent of those polled said they would rather give up ice cream for one month than go without Fro-Yo for the same time period; similarly, more than 23 percent would rather give up TV for one week.

    Industry advocates are quick to trumpet that frozen yogurt is also a boon to the domestic dairy industry. According to the Innovation Center for US Dairy, snacking foods are a $90 billion/year market domestically, and 51% of snacking occasions have some emphasis on health and nutrition. Other recent stats show that:

    The U.S. produced 30.3 million gallons of frozen yogurt mix in 2011 (Source: United States Department of Agriculture)
    While production in lowfat and regular fat ice cream declined from 2009 to 2010 by 0.9 and 4.9% respectively, frozen yogurt production increased by 8.1% during the same period (Source: Agricultural Marketing Resource Center)

    June is a great time to pay tribute to an industry and beloved product that is helping to put smiles on faces from the young to the young at heart. Celebrate this month in a BIG WAY and keep the customer excitement and momentum continue.


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