What’s your why?

Rita’s could be what you’re looking for: a happy, seasonal franchise opportunity that gives you a second chance

Colorful words stand up on a chalkboard that say, “If not now, when?”

One of the most important aspects of any career is understanding your why: Are you just trying to keep a roof over your head? Do you want to be the next big thing in your field? Are you motivated by the reward of serving others? Understanding your own motivations may be even more important when you’re considering opening your own business.

With Rita’s, many of our franchise owners operate seasonally because it makes sense in their geographic climate — but also because it feeds their motivation. Some are looking for that work-life balance that’s so elusive in the corporate world and in independent business ownership.

From October through February, they close down their shops and spend that time however they feel is best. Some of them work a different seasonal job, like tax preparation. Some spend the time planning to scale up and add another Rita’s. Some travel to see their grandkids.

For anyone who’s ever experienced burnout, that’s a huge benefit of a seasonal operation. Sometimes you start your career with a strong passion, only to find that motivation fading and changing over the years. A 4- or 5-month break would be a wonderful way to recharge, personally and professionally.

Are you able to go to your boss right now and ask to take winter off? Probably not. Is your why still as relevant today as it was when you started out 10 or 20 years ago? Unlikely.

A happy business

Rita’s is the kind of place that can remind you of your why.

Rita’s mission is to be the happiest frozen treat experience in the world. It is, at heart, a happy business. People are coming into Rita’s for celebratory reasons.

If your job or career no longer feeds your why, then what are you waiting for? Rita’s Italian Ice is surprisingly affordable and easy to operate — you don’t even need foodservice experience. Our two key products are Italian ice and frozen custard, and they’re the basis for all of our marvelous menu creations.

Additionally, with our Italian ices in particular, your food costs are low — basically it’s just water and sugar — so your profit margins are high. There’s no cooking and little food waste. Most of your staff will be seasonal workers — high school and college kids. They’re easy to train because there’s no complicated equipment or complicated recipes.

Are you ready for franchise ownership?

There’s a saying in the franchise business — you’re in business for yourself, not by yourself. We have a stellar franchise support system that you can rely on throughout the life of your franchise. From our Executive Team to your fellow franchisees, there’s always someone there who has faced whatever challenges you’re facing and can help you steer through them.

Rita’s has affordable startup costs that allow you to grow your business and scale up more quickly than you might with other franchises. Our startup investment ranges from $175,500-$435,000 for a standard shop. For those interested in multi-unit development, we also offer incentives. Qualified candidates should have a minimum liquidity of $100,000 and a net worth of at least $300,000.

If you’re having too many days where you just can’t remember why you started this career to begin with, or why on earth you’re still in it, it’s time for a fresh start.

A fresh start that just might begin with filling out this form to request more information about Rita’s.

Why Rita’s is a great family franchise

Our happy atmosphere and simplicity of operations make it the perfect place for your family to work together on your future

Sometimes, running a business is a family affair, and that’s true even in franchising. Among our owners, we have many husband-and-wife teams, parents who work their locations with their kids and other family groupings.

A family-run franchise can help you instill a strong work ethic in your children and provide a safe place for them to work after school and during the summers. It’s also a great way to get them involved in a trade early so they can be an integral part of building your family’s future. When you’re talking about families, of course, not just any franchise will do.

Here are some reasons Rita’s in particular is a great franchise for families.

Simplicity of operations. Food franchises are a popular pick for family-run businesses, but if you’ve ever been involved in the restaurant business, you know it’s really hard work. And it’s not for everyone. But Rita’s is a food business you and your family will love to run. Italian ice is simple to make, and you won’t have to worry constantly about food spoilage and inventory. Our two main products, Italian ice and frozen custard, are the base for all our menu items.
A rainbow of Italian ices in Rita’s branded cups are lined up on a counter. The words Ice, Custard, Happiness are spelled out in white on a green wall in the background.

Happy atmosphere. While it’s true that challenges only make us stronger, there are limits to what you really want to subject your family members to. One of the big advantages to owning a Rita’s franchise is that it’s such a happy business. Customers arrive in great anticipation of our awesome treats, and when they leave they’re even more happy. As a simple frozen dessert franchise, there aren’t a lot of complications — and not much in the way of customer dissatisfaction. Simply put, people love Rita’s. As owners, you get to be part of sharing that joy.

Easy to scale when kids come of age. Unlike some franchises, where you might have to master a complex business model or spend a long time planning for a full-sized, year-round second location, Rita’s has a lot of options. Many of our territories are closed in the winter, which allows you time to plan your next business move. And our flexible footprints give you many options to choose from. Want your oldest child to take over the business but you’re not ready to hand over the keys to the store? No problem. We have mobile units. You can also count on our accessible startup costs to help with your succession and growth planning.

Learn more about our family-friendly franchise

If you’d like to learn whether Rita’s is the right opportunity for your family, 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.

What you get for your startup costs

Rita’s initial investment is more affordable than most restaurant franchises, and the value is excellent when you consider what you’re really getting

Rolled bills held together by a red rubber band are stacked atop silver and copper coins, creating a rocketship shadow on the wall in the background.

Food franchises are sometimes seen as an expensive proposition, but it depends entirely on the scope of the operation and the brand itself. Rita’s Italian Ice & Frozen Custard is a stable brand with a long history that offers a lot of the advantages of a traditional restaurant franchise without the higher buy-in, and you can also count on getting a lot of value out of Rita’s initial investment costs. Our typical startup costs range from $175,500-$435,000 for a standard shop.

The most obvious advantage, of course, is our simplicity of operations. Rita’s serves Italian ices in a large variety of flavors as well as a smaller menu of frozen custard. Both items are made in-shop, and everything on our menu is made from some combination of these two core products. There’s no cooking equipment, no chop-and-prep, no recipes or assembly-line ovens. It’s so simple, a teenager could run it — and that’s often who makes up the bulk of our shop teams!

You also get the advantage of joining a proven, established franchise system. Rita’s has long since worked out the proper capitalization you realistically need. As you are likely aware if you’ve been exploring entrepreneurship, undercapitalization poses a serious threat to many new businesses. With Rita’s, we’ve already thoroughly vetted our startup process and all its associated costs hundreds and hundreds of times — we can help you expertly navigate any challenges you face.

3 benefits included in your initial investment

Equipment and supplies. Imagine striking out on your own and trying to figure out your inventory list and your equipment needs. Suddenly there’s more risk involved in an already risky venture. But with the buying power and vendor relationships of our proven franchise system, there’s less to worry about. We’ve already figured out the best options for all your equipment and supplies. And, because most of what we sell is water and ice, you don’t have to worry about spoilage and food waste.
Three frozen custard cones with a Rita’s branded paper wrap around the bottom of the cone. One is vanilla, one is chocolate-vanilla swirl, and one is covered in rainbow sprinkles. A small bowl of rainbow sprinkles, with some sprinkles spilled out onto the wooden table, rests between the first and second cones.

Training and support. Have you ever been to Cool University? Not *a* cool university; the Cool University. You will when you join Rita’s, since that’s where we send all our new franchisees to learn the tricks of the trade. They wrap up with 40 hours of hands-on experience at a certified training location so they can put in practice everything they’ve just learned. “My vision for Rita’s is to make sure we can consistently execute on an operational excellence that really wows our guests,” says Rita’s President and CEO Linda Chadwick. “We get great high marks for our Cool University and our ongoing training programs.”

Hub-and-spoke business model. If you’re looking for either a way to scale quickly or a smaller footprint to start with, we offer a Rita’s Express unit for an initial investment of just $121,100-$309,900. An Express unit is a self-contained shop with its own production area that works well in alternative locations such as parks, universities, sports arenas, convention centers, airports and more. You can also use a freestanding operation as your base from which to launch mobile units or Express units. That flexibility can help you increase your revenue streams more quickly.

Learn more

If you’d like to learn more about the franchise opportunity with Rita’s, 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 find more information about our franchise 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.

How to gain brand fans in a new market

When you introduce Rita’s frozen dessert franchise in a new territory, our unique products and business model create big advantages. Here’s how to claim your market.

A teenage boy and girl lie on their stomachs in the grass, propped on their elbows, while they enjoy Italian ice in a Rita’s branded cup and frozen custard in a cone wrapped in red and green striped Rita’s branded paper.
You’re not just opening any old ice cream franchise. You’re opening a Rita’s Italian Ice & Frozen Custard, a concept so unique that it clearly stands out from other frozen dessert franchises. Our unique product offering is one of the things that will give you an edge in growing your business.

“Having a Rita’s Italian Ice for the first time is a game changer,” wrote Yelp reviewer Mechelle S. of Roanoke, TX, “in terms of pleasure and enjoyment you get on a super hot July day or any day for that matter. If you have never been here, then you are missing out.”

Opening in a new market

Rita’s has several winning strategies for opening in a new market. For instance, franchisees contribute to a New Store Marketing Program, which funds a customized marketing plan for their shop. The plan may include paid social media, out of home options, broadcast media, SEM, direct mail, digital banner ads, local publications, etc., all targeted at a hyper-local level.

We create a Facebook page as soon as the lease is signed so that we can begin to build awareness through social media within the community. Both our Marketing team and the franchisees have access to post. This page is part of our corporate location structure to ensure a strong branded presence in a new community.

New franchisees begin weekly touch base calls during which we cover a variety of marketing tactics, including:

  • Social media recommendations (including Meet Our Treats posts that walk guests through the menu in an engaging and fun manner)
  • Utilizing a trade area analysis to identify competitors, targets and affinity drivers
  • Engaging with the local chamber of commerce for B2B opportunities and a ribbon cutting/member mixer
  • Distribution of coupons in the community (we provide each shop with 2,500 to start)
  • Catchy visuals at the shop level, including banners, window clings, etc.
  • Sampling at local schools, fairs, festivals and large events (prior to and after opening)
  • The use of our Ice Guy Mascot to promote visual branding and community engagement
  • Ice drops to local businesses and media outlets
  • Hosting a Friends & Family event

Multi-unit franchisee Sean Evans grew up out East, so he didn’t have to be sold on the product. But when he and his wife moved to the Dallas area, they missed their favorite Philly-based frozen treat. Opening a string of locations here just made sense. He and his business partner, a cousin, bought the rights to five Rita’s units in the Dallas area, with the first one expected to open this spring.

Rita’s franchising team has been very patient with the first-time franchisees, addressing every concern and answering every question.

“We’re bringing a great product into a new arena,” Evans says. “So even though we know the product is great, what’s going to make it great for someone else that doesn’t know anything about it? I think you have to be willing to get the samples out there, work hard to get people to experience the product. Even if that means that it might be free at an event.”

Satellite options, such as food trucks, help you build your brand

If you’re thinking of introducing Rita’s in an underdeveloped market, we can help you introduce this unique and beloved product to a lot of people without having to build multiple stores immediately.
Rita’s branded vans, one with a walk-up window and one smaller van, are parked in a perpendicular formation in a concrete lot on a partly cloudy day.

One of the ways you can do this is by building up satellite locations. As a franchisee in a new market, you can treat your first retail location as your base of operations. By opening up satellite units such as a kiosk or a food truck, you can efficiently increase your revenue streams while you spread brand awareness.

Getting involved in your community, attending community events and offering free samples, as Evans notes, is also an effective way to let people know about your business. You’ll also have access to a business coach who can guide you through our marketing materials and determine the best way to share promotions in your area.

Learn more

This will be a big year for Rita’s as we strive to grow our frozen dessert franchises into new and underdeveloped markets. To find out about our brand, please explore our research pages. 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 more Rita’s franchise reviews.

Multi-unit owners offer secrets to success with Rita’s

Rita’s multi-unit owners share what they’ve learned about successfully juggling different locations

A man in a purple tuxedo spins plates on six poles. By Henrikbothe | Wikimedia Commons

Keeping up with more than one franchise can seem, at times, like that old plate-spinning act: You spin one plate atop a pole, move on to the next and the next, and by the time you get your last plate spinning, the first one needs attention again before it shatters to the floor in a hundred pieces. But it doesn’t have to be like that, as Rita’s multi-unit owners can attest.

With the right franchisor, multi-unit owners will have the support in place to help them successfully manage all facets of their business.

Get your systems in place

Franchisee Tom Kowal owns four Rita’s units in New Jersey. Having worked in the business since he was a teenager and having bought his first unit right out of college, Kowal knows the brand inside and out. He emphasizes the importance of a strong management system to juggle multiple locations.

“Because I have four locations and I can’t be in every one at once, I have to have four managers,” Kowal says. “So, somebody is really there handling the daily operations and I’m typically coordinating with my mom or my sister, who’s a general manager, for what has to go on in the day.”

Kowal plans out his orders, arranges for inventory, firms up his marketing schedule and looks at staffing for upcoming events, with the help of his mother and sister. Typically, he has a serious planning session at least once a week.

“Because every day is different and every store is different,” he says. “For instance, our store in Clinton (NJ) is the only store we have along a major highway, so during rush hour we’re dead. Our store in Flemington (NJ) is kind of set in the path of rush hour so they’re always busy at that time, because everyone’s just coming right out of work and we’re right there.”

The franchising support team at Rita’s is with you every step of the way, making sure you’ve arranged for the resources you need to build your successful business as a Rita’s multi-unit owner.

Getting the word out

Sean Evans, a multi-unit owner who is developing five locations with his business-partner cousin in Dallas, grew up with the Rita’s brand back East, so he didn’t need to be sold on how unique the Italian ice franchise is. For Evans, part of his success will be based on how he translates his passion for the brand to a new audience.

“Even though we know the product is great, what’s it going to take to make someone else understand that, someone else that doesn’t know anything about it? You have to be willing to get the samples out there, work hard to get people to experience the product,” Evans says. “Even if that means that you might offer it free at an event. I think you have to really understand that you’re trying to show people how great it is.”

Rita’s provides detailed go-to-market strategies, checklists, and marketing calendars to help franchisees effectively build awareness and attract customers.

Learn more about our multi-unit opportunities

You can also explore more about the Rita’s franchise opportunity on our research pages, or fill out a short, no-obligation form to access to our proprietary Franchise Information Center. We look forward to hearing from you!