From marketing to making people smile, Bob Elmer loves his new career as a Menchie’s frozen yogurt franchise owner
Changing careers is generally not a quick decision, but discovering Menchie’s made the choice a whole lot easier for Bob Elmer and his family. Bob was working as an advertising executive when he found himself at a career crossroads. Shortly after making one large change for his career, moving from Manhattan to Austin, he was asked to pick up his family and move again. Together with his wife, Kathy, they decided moving again wasn’t right for their family. Instead, they started the search for a career move that would be more family-friendly.
“It was the first time since I graduated college that I had the chance to see what I really wanted to do,” says Bob, who graduated from Virginia Tech in 1995. “My dad (Gus Elmer) and I researched several business ideas, and it was my idea to do frozen yogurt.”
Once they had chosen their category, the Elmers were determined to find the very best brand. That’s where Bob’s 12-year career in marketing, branding and advertising came in handy.
“After meeting Menchie’s executive team and going out to the office, we felt they had a much clearer vision of who they wanted to be and who they were,” Bob says. “Their brand perspective and identity focus of who their main consumers were — kids and family — and their execution of that target audience was much stronger than any other franchises we talked to. The quality of their product is superior, as well.”
A Family Affair
Today, the Elmer family owns three Menchie’s frozen yogurt franchises in the Austin, Texas, area, with their first store opening in February 2013 in Quinlan Crossing.
“The biggest change is my wife and I are doing this as a team,” says Bob. Kathy has always been a stay-at-home mom who now divides her time between the kids and the business. Bob is also enjoying the time spent with his father. “My dad is involved with negotiating (real estate) for the other two stores, and I rarely worked with my dad before, and I definitely never worked with my wife,” he says. “It’s a rewarding experience and has enhanced our relationship. I see it getting even better from here. My kids love the free yogurt.”
Corporate World vs. Business Owner
The difference between the world of power suits and mix-it-yourself frozen yogurt is one Bob embraces. “Menchie’s mission is to make people smile,” he says. “In the corporate world and in advertising, it can get to be a drag, whether you’re successful or unsuccessful. So far, we’ve had some good and bad days at Menchie’s, but at the end of the day, people love coming in, they enjoy the experience, and they smile. It’s really nice to be your own boss.”
Success in Austin
Opening his Menchie’s stores in Austin, which had never had a Menchie’s before, has been an adventure. “There were none in Austin, which is a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because we could really own certain areas and have the best product. We had financial goals and believed we could accomplish them, which requires purchasing two to three stores to get on that path versus the one.”
Part of Bob’s recipe for success calls for being close to middle and high schools and getting involved in the community, including such things as school fundraisers and silent raffles. In turn, the community rewards Menchie’s with loyalty.
“Ultimately there’s a big shakeout, and lots of mom-and-pop places will go away. I do believe Menchie’s has the branding power and leadership intelligence to survive that shakeout and to be the one few franchises standing in the end. They have the ability to be the McDonald’s of frozen yogurt. Self-serve yogurt isn’t a fad; it will be around for a long time. The product and the kids and family [clientele] set them apart.”
Bob loves the lack of office politics, being his own boss and feeling that sense of pride when people thank him for bringing Menchie’s into their community. He sees no reason why he shouldn’t continue to build three or four more franchises.
If you’d like to join the happy Menchie’s family of franchisees, fill out this form to request more information or give us a call at 818-708-0316. We look forward to hearing from you!