5 reasons not to open a Rita’s

This is no ordinary ice cream franchise. In fact, it’s not an ice cream franchise at all.

Two hands on either side of the photo hold Rita’s Italian Ices in Rita’s branded cups, touching the rims together as if in a toast, against a chalkboard background.

The franchise life is not for everyone. But there are ways to tell whether it might be the right life for you. Rita’s, as we said, is not just some ice cream franchise. It’s an amazingly unique franchise opportunity with 400+ units nationwide and growing, a concept that sells Italian ice and frozen custard. It’s a concept like no other.

There are a lot of compelling reasons to choose Rita’s. And there may be some compelling reasons not to. In fact, here are 5 reasons you just might NOT want to invest in a Rita’s Italian Ice franchise:

You don’t want a fun, happy business. People come into Rita’s for treats. Treats are fun. Treats make people happy. So instead of dealing with spreadsheets from the accounting department and daily meetings about incremental progress on some project you don’t care about, you could be running an exciting, feel-good business — like ice cream, only better — that puts smiles on people’s faces. Every day. And people are happy to see you. Every day. And you don’t ever have to earn a bonus for someone else again.

You don’t want simple operations. No restaurant experience? No problem. Why? No cooktops. No ovens. No complicated recipes. No inventory-control and food-waste headaches. Frozen custard you don’t have to mix up. Water, fruit and ice — does it get any simpler? Not much. It’s so easy you’ll literally be hiring teenagers to run the place.

That’s easy to scale in the off-season. A seasonal Rita’s is a beautiful thing. We know this because the majority of our 400+ franchises are in our core markets in the Northeast, where it’s been known to get pretty chilly in the wintertime. A lot of our franchisees use that downtime to operate on limited hours or to plan their next Rita’s opening. Every year, when we hold our Grand Re-Opening Day in the spring, people in those markets line up — sometimes in the early spring snow — for their first taste of their favorite reminder that spring and summer are coming.

You love working in corporate America. No one was ever laid off from their 9-to-5 job, right? Um… Look, we’re not saying people’s businesses never close. Sometimes, they do. But company loyalty and the gold watch retirement have long since gone by the wayside. Rita’s offers you a chance to control your own destiny, take a shot at your own piece of the American Dream. All our efforts to offer guidelines and processes and systems are designed to help you succeed, because we literally can’t do this without you. When was the last time someone at your corporate job told you that?

And you don’t want to be your own boss. There probably really are people who thrive on being told exactly what to do and how to do it. But maybe only because they never got to run the show. With Rita’s, you are in business for yourself. But you’re never in business by yourself. If you love the idea of having a time-tested business model to follow and expert guidance at your fingertips, all while you steer the ship, then, yes, this could be your opportunity. You will work hard your first few years, but you’ll be working toward your own profitability. And you’ll still be able to take your kid to the doctor or attend the school play without having to ask someone else if that’s okay.
A hand holds up a chocolate and vanilla swirled frozen custard in a Rita’s branded up against the backdrop of a Rita’s franchise with people lined up outside the window.

Your startup costs

Initial startup costs range from $175,500 – $435,000, according to our most recent Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD). We offer opportunities for both multi-unit and single-unit owners. Rita’s franchise growth is on track to increase this year, offering entrepreneurs an excellent opportunity to grow along with us. Qualified candidates need $100,000 in liquid capital and must have a net worth of at least $300,000.

Learn more about the Rita’s opportunity

If you’d like to learn more about Rita’s, we’d love to hear from you. Please fill out the form on this page to access our Franchise Information Center, where you can find detailed financial results, a breakdown of startup costs and in-depth Q&As with Rita’s franchisees. You can also discover more about our brand by exploring our research pages.

A better chance for success

Don’t let fear hold you back. Rita’s personal business coaches will guide you every step of the way

For a lot of people, starting your own business is a dream that never comes to fruition. Why? Mostly fear, says Yvette Petroval, Rita’s Director of Field Operations for the East Coast. Fear that they don’t know what they’re doing, that they won’t be able to turn to anyone for advice. Joining a franchise like ours can eliminate that uncertainty.

“I think that the most important element buyers need to understand about joining Rita’s franchise system is that they’ll always have somebody that’s in there with them, that can help them and guide them where they need to go,” says Petroval. “That adds a certain comfort level to a lot of people, knowing that, ‘Hey, I have this one person that I can call, and they’re going to get me the answers that I need.’”

Tennessee Titans player Logan Ryan helps scooping ice on a Rita’s truck at a community event at Eastern Regional High School in NJ.

Your 1st year in business

There’s a popular saying in the franchising world: You’ll be in business for yourself, but not by yourself. That’s certainly the case with Rita’s Italian Ice, and it’s especially true during that first challenging year of running your own business.

Petroval’s role as Director of Field Operations is to supervise four Business Development Coaches, and she also oversees franchisees for their first year with the Rita’s system to make sure they establish a solid foundation and get off to a good start.

What might that entail?

“We want to give them advice,” Petroval says, “and consult with them through all the twists and turns that they might run into on a day-to-day operation. We want to help them open up their business, and then we want to help them expand their business.

“If it’s a franchisee buying an existing store, then I spend my time helping them improve their business practices so that helps them, in turn, improve the bottom line.”

Rita’s marketing tips that drive business

The Business Development Coaches who work under Petroval help new franchisees with strategic planning and problem solving, paying particular attention to the challenges that crop up in daily operations.

As for marketing, it’s all about community engagement, especially in territories that are new to Rita’s.

Efforts include:

Loyalty programs. Business coaches help franchisees learn to use templates and access mailing lists for things like Birthday Clubs and fundraisers, and how to engage on different platforms like Twitter for those customers who opt in.

Samples, samples, samples. Franchisees will go out with their coaches for a “Rita’s on the Road” event, where they load up a truck or a mobile unit with samples of product and hand them all out free at various community gatherings — craft fairs, football games, movie theaters. People who try our delicious Italian Ices and Frozen Custard are usually eager to seek out the store and become customers.

In-store events. Franchisees will also learn how to do a coupon drop to bring in customers. A Happy Hour special can drive sales during slower dayparts. If a franchisee wants to discount a particular item, their business coach can help them calculate the profit margin to determine the best pricing.

“They can say, ‘Okay, if you want to do a Happy Hour special and you want to discount something, then this is still what you’re going to make on that.’ We just want to make sure that they don’t ever discount to the point where they don’t make any money,” says Petroval. “Our business coaches teach them that fine line of, ‘Let’s discount it a little bit to bring people in but not so much that it costs you money to do it.’”

Petroval emphasizes that she’s there for franchisees every step of the way for that first year before handing them off to a Business Development Coach. “But even then, I’m definitely always going to be there.”

Learn more about the Rita’s opportunity

If you’d like to learn more about the Rita’s franchise opportunity, we’d love to hear from you. Please fill out the form on this page to access our Franchise Information Center, where you can find detailed financial results, a breakdown of startup costs and in-depth Q&As with Rita’s franchisees. You can also discover more about our brand by exploring our research pages.