By Megan Harman
A new frozen yogurt chain that takes a futuristic spin on the traditional froyo concept is breaking into the Canadian market with ambitious growth plans.
San Diego-based Reis & Irvy’s, a chain of robotic frozen yogurt dispensers owned by Generation NEXT Franchise Brands, Inc., has partnered with Froyo Vending Canada, Inc. to launch Reis & Irvy’s Canada. In April, the Canadian franchisees announced a large-scale franchise agreement, which will see the frozen yogurt chain gain a hefty presence in Edmonton and Calgary.
Reis & Irvy’s ‘Froyo Robots’ are fully automated, 15-square-foot machines that dispense frozen yogurt and process transactions independently. Customers can customize their order, choosing from a variety of different frozen yogurt flavours and toppings. Each order takes approximately 60 seconds to dispense.
Since the robots do not require a staff attendant on site, aside from refills and cleaning, the concept could disrupt the so-called froyo market considerably.
“It’s a robot – it does all the serving itself, so you don’t need someone there 24 hours a day,” says Brett Beninger, president and CEO of Froyo Vending Canada. “It’s quite simple, and it’s really on trend.”
Reis & Irvy’s launched in the U.S. market in 2016. It has since grown to include more than 180 franchisees across the U.S., and has pre-sold more than 1,000 units.
Under the Canadian agreement, Froyo Vending Canada serves as the exclusive master franchisee of Reis & Irvy's Froyo Robots in Canada for five years, with an obligation to purchase a minimum of 500 of the robots over that period.
Recently, Froyo Vending secured a major franchise agreement, in which entrepreneur Barry Ehlert will have exclusive rights to all Reis & Irvy’s locations throughout Edmonton and Calgary.
“I love this product,” says Ehlert. “The brick and mortar frozen yogurt and ice cream retail industry in Canada is ready for this kind of unattended and very disruptive vending technology.”
In total, Froyo Vending Canada has pre-sold approximately 110 Reis & Irvy's Froyo Robots in Canada, with 30 of those locations set to be operating by July. The first locations are expected to open in late May and early June.
“We’ve had some success in the west, and now we’re just starting to push out east,” says Beninger, who notes that the company has made inroads in many provinces across the country.
The chain targets high-traffic locations such as amusement parks, hotels, movie theatres, shopping malls, airports, colleges and universities. The product appeals to consumers of all ages, Beninger says.
“We’re looking for locations that average about 1,000 people per day in foot traffic,” he says.
Although franchisees such as Ehlert are launching large-scale Reis & Irvy’s operations, franchisees also have the option of purchasing as few as three robots. That presents an opportunity for individuals who are working full time and looking for a second source of income to launch a side business with few overhead costs and a limited time commitment, according to Beninger.
He notes that the robots are programmed to alert franchisees when maintenance is required or refills are needed. “It will do all of that for you, so you don’t have to be present,” Beninger says. “It could be a second income for someone…it’s actually quite a simple business to own and operate.”
The compact nature of the robots, he adds, makes it easy to relocate units that aren’t performing well. “We can pick it up and move it into a better location, if that is the case,” Beninger says.