Rita’s Franchise Review: Harry Jones of Suwanee, GA

Professional caterer finds Rita’s catering has been key to his success

As the longtime owner of Katie’s Catering in the Atlanta suburb of Suwanee, Georgia, Harry Jones is no stranger to the foodservice business. So when he was looking for a side business around 2007 and attended a Rita’s Italian Ice Franchise seminar in Atlanta, it seemed like an ideal choice. Today, Harry owns a Rita’s near his catering business and is the president of the Franchisee Advisory Council. In this Rita’s franchise review, he talks about his journey to ownership and what it takes to succeed.

HARRY JONES

What was it about Rita’s that made you think this would be a good fit with your primary business?

The product itself is just outstanding, and that’s really what we got hooked on. The Suwanee shop was the first Rita’s shop in the state of Georgia, and it’s still the only shop in the state that’s owned by the original owner.

I know one of the things you do with your Rita’s is a lot of catering. How has that affected your business?
Yeah, we do a significant amount of catering for Rita’s. We specifically go out and target the market in terms of Facebook posts, and on my Katie’s Catering menu, the back page is dedicated to Rita’s. So we do a lot of flyers that we pass out at all of the lunches we do.

It’s incredibly easy to add this revenue stream to your Rita’s if you have the systems in place going into it, so you have a game plan and a pricing structure. Rita’s really did a tremendous job this year of setting guidelines and standards. They actually hired an outside consultant for the first time to look at what everyone’s doing and to put a standard catering practice in place. And so for the first time ever, you literally can use the tools that Rita’s provides and grow your business to suit that catering participation.

Do you have an estimate of what percentage of revenue your catering provides?
So far, year-to-date, our catering represents 5% of my total bid.

Have you been doing catering all along with Rita’s or is it a new line for you?
We have. That literally was my background. And so I think we always thought that being in an outlying market, you have to do what the customer wants if you’re going to be successful. So, when we had an opportunity to do catering in-shop or people wanted us to come out to their location, we figured out how we were going to make that happen. It’s my responsibility to try to make sure that my shop was successful. Especially in an outlying market.

What kinds of events do people hire Rita’s to cater?
We’ve done everything from anniversaries to doctors offices.

How do you feel right now about the direction of the brand?
Overall from a marketing perspective and an operations perspective, I think this is the best that I’ve seen it in 12 years.

The senior leadership team really has a vision of where they want to go and how they want to get there. Linda Chadwick, the CEO, comes from a franchising background. She understands that for Rita’s to make money, the shops have to make money.

I understand you’re the president of the Franchisee Advisory Council. Can you tell me a little bit about how that council is structured and what you do?
The board itself is made up of nine franchisees that are elected by their peers to be the representatives of the franchisees to the franchising company. But we’re also advisors to the company. When there’s new marketing material or something new in operations, they don’t just change it. We are kind of like the beta testers; we get the first look at it. That way we can tell if we need to add or enhance something to make it work better for franchise owners, and corporate will listen and take our suggestions under advisement.

How much interaction do you have with other franchisees who are not on the council? How much chance do they get to provide feedback?
As much as or as little as they want. We have an intranet, a CoolNet franchisee website, and all of the FAC’s phone numbers and emails are listed on there.

So, if someone has an issue or a problem, all people have to do is pick up the phone and call and let me know, hey, this is an issue, this is a problem. It would be difficult for us to call 575 franchise shop locations and ask them how things are going, but if they have a question or a problem, they should pick up a phone and call someone.

What kind of experience does someone need to be successful with a Rita’s?
I don’t think you necessarily have to have any specific type of experience. I do think you have to be able and willing to work hard, though. I am a firm believer that Rita’s is a hands-on business, not an investment business.

When you first start off, you have to work in your business. No matter what your business is, if it’s consumer-related, people want to know that the owner’s there.

From a customer perspective, what is it that draws customers to Rita’s? Consumers have a lot of choices when it comes to frozen treats. Why Rita’s? Why do they come?
I think there’s two main reasons. The primary one is the product’s terrific, and the No. 1 reason why my shop is so successful is that we have a tremendous team of young women and men who treat the people how they want to be treated. So they get terrific service, and let’s face it, the consumer is always going to go where they get something they want and they’re treated right.

What would you say makes Rita’s a good investment as opposed to another brand?
Again, I have to go back to the product. The product itself is just terrific.

And knowing what you know now, if you were just starting out today, would you still become a Rita’s Franchisee? If so, why?
Yes. I would. People love dessert, right? So they feel like it is a reward when they treat themselves and I think that of all the other dessert companies, I really, truly believe that we have the best product in the marketplace.

Is there anything else you think a prospective owner should know?
You have to be hands-on, and I think it’s important when you open a business, no matter what the business is, it’s imperative that you keep your build-out costs in line.

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 website.

Rita’s franchisee found ‘love at first bite’

Lawyer Maria Finley who opens first Rita’s franchise in state of Louisiana featured in local newspaper

Two women, one in a pink dress and another holding a toddler, read a “Coming Soon” sign in the front door of a new Rita’s. Signage above the store reads, “Rita’s Italian Ice | Creamery.”

Attorney Maria Finley was a new empty-nester who was ready to move away from her hometown of Baton Rouge and start a new chapter in her life in Washington, D.C. That was before a Rita’s Blue Raspberry Italian Ice stopped her in her tracks.

As Finley told “The Advocate,” one bite was all it took to put her on a whole new path. Today, she is the proud owner of the first Rita’s franchise in the state of Louisiana. “The Advocate,” which featured Finley recently, wrote in part:

Four summers ago, Maria A. Finley, a Louisiana attorney, packed her things and was prepared to move to Washington, D.C. Her children had all grown up, and she was ready for a fresh start.

After touring Georgetown University with her son and his friend, the trio visited a Rita’s Italian Ice. For Finley, it was love at first bite.

“I got the blue raspberry and I tasted it, and I mean, literally within two or three minutes I called my realtor and said, ‘Take my house off the market. I’m coming back to Louisiana and opening a Rita’s Italian Ice franchise,’” Finley said.

With that blue raspberry, Finley picked up on something a lot of people have known about Rita’s for more than three decades — it’s delicious.

What Rita’s offers franchisees

Italian ice and frozen custard are our two core products, comprising part of virtually everything we sell. That helps keep our food costs really low. Our simple business model gives franchisees the opportunity to run a profitable business, and our mobile units and catering offer additional streams of revenue and a simple way to expand the business.

Rita’s is a happy business, where guests come in excited with anticipation and leave even happier than when they arrived. With no cooking involved, it’s easier to find, train and retain labor — and also easier to scale up quickly.

Her seasonal franchise is open year-round

As for Finley, she’s loving her new life as a Rita’s franchisee. She opened her shop in October 2018 and added a mobile unit in May. While many Rita’s franchisees in the northeast close their shops during winter months, in Baton Rouge, where January’s high temps average around 60, there’s no need to completely shut down in winter. And the community is loving it. “The Advocate” wrote:

“The response has been wonderful,” Finley said. “The secret is to get it in their mouths. And that’s part of the excitement that makes me so happy to have brought this franchise to Louisiana — practically every person I see taste it gets this amazing look on their face.”

Finley is well aware that Louisiana’s frozen treat of choice is the sno-ball, but she doesn’t make it a point in comparing the two.

“If somebody wants a sno-ball, they’re going to go get themselves a sno-ball,” she said. “I just try to get people to taste our Italian ices that we make fresh in the store almost every day. I don’t knock sno-balls, but we are definitely an alternative when someone wants a frozen treat. I just leave it up to them to decide after that.”

Own a Rita’s franchise

Find out how you can become a Rita’s franchisee by exploring our research pages or filling out the form on this page. We look forward to hearing from you!

Rita’s franchise review: Seizing the opportunity in Dallas

Dallas franchisee Sean Evans missed his favorite East Coast brand, so he decided to open up a few of his own in his new hometown.

Dallas has more sunny days than rainy and more hot days than cold. It’s the perfect place for Rita’s Italian Ice to have a large presence. But when Sean Evans and his wife moved from the East Coast to Dallas to be closer to family, he couldn’t help but notice: “Where in the world is Rita’s?”

Now, he and his business partner, a cousin, have signed on to open five shops, with the first location expected to open in early 2019. In this Rita’s franchise review, Evans shares his story.

What were you doing before Rita’s?

My background has been in retail management. I worked for Foot Locker for 20 years; two of those years I worked my way to store manager, and then eight, almost nine years as a manager. Then I spent 10 years as a district manager. So that’s where I kinda got my multi-unit management experience, so to speak. I covered the D.C., Maryland and northern Virginia areas for that company for 10 years, and then we moved to Texas in 2016 to be closer to family.

So, how did you learn about Rita’s?

Well, being from the East Coast/Mid-Atlantic states, Rita’s is a well-known brand there. So when I got here to Texas I just noticed I didn’t see Rita’s. I came home one day and I was talking to my wife and I said, “You know what I haven’t seen since we’ve been here for the last five months?” It was around springtime that it kind of hit me. I was like, “I want some Rita’s.” So we laughed about it and said, “It’d be nice to have one.” And we kind of went on with life.

About four months after that my uncle, who already lives here in Dallas, simply asked me a question. He just said, “Hey, if you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you want to do?” And I gave him my observation about Rita’s, you know, that I hadn’t seen it but that it’s a great product I think would do well in Texas. I think you could open them all year round. I mean, we just had an open conversation about it. Then within a day, little did I know that my uncle already knew that I had a cousin who was interested in investing in the opportunity and loved the idea that I had presented. And he just put us together, and we’ve been walking down this Rita’s road ever since.

We then started to inquire with Rita’s and learned that Rita’s wanted to grow their brand in this part of this country as well. Things started to move forward. So here we are with the rights to five locations.

Four children stand on the grass in the sunshine, with the third girl on the left holding a Rita’s branded cup of frozen custard.

Warm, sunny days and Rita’s Italian Ice are a match made in heaven. That’s why our brand is such a good fit for Dallas.

How closely did you look at the direction of the brand and the leadership? You knew as a consumer you loved the product, but what makes Rita’s a good investment?

One thing that really stood out was the personal touch that Rita’s had once we started to reach out and try to talk to someone. The invited us to tour the headquarters down in Philly. Because for me, Rita’s was easy, but for my cousin — he remembered the brand from when he was younger because he grew up in Philly. But he had kinda lost touch with the brand.

So I believe that the approach they had for someone just trying to find out about the opportunity was fantastic. That gave us peace of mind that the relationship was genuine and that they were really invested in the brand having success. That was big for us. That took us from knowing the brand as consumers to experiencing the brand through a different lens.

What are some of the most valuable things they do to support you?

This is our first franchise opportunity, so we’re really learning as we go along. Every question we’ve had, they have answers. It is a good feeling when the landlord represents something or the broker represents something that, with our infant eyes in this arena, we may not know or catch, but then Rita’s has been on our side and saying, “Hey, you may want to make sure you take a second look at this.”

It’s not just about getting your initial fee and here’s your location and you’re off on your own. At one point, we were doing conference calls every other week. They’re very patient, very partnership-driven to make sure that we feel supported as the franchise owners. So that is a very satisfying feeling when you can feel like the corporate side of the franchise is also in your corner and not just trying to take your investment and wish you the best.

Were there any objections or concerns that you had going in that they were able to help you overcome?

One that comes to mind was the decision of doing one unit vs. multiple units. Because again, being first-time franchise owners, and even though we had my background in operations and there’s marketing background from the other side, one of the big things that we were deciding on was, do we want to do more than one? Or do we want to just do the one and see what happens? That kind of thing.

But through our partnership and conversations with Rita’s, they came up with different scenarios on how it can look if you decide to do multiple units. You know, it wasn’t like five at a time and boom there you are. It was more like, do the first one and then space them out six or nine months apart, and then go after the next one.

A lineup of products in Rita’s branded red-and-green cups.

What would you say draws customers to Rita’s? What makes people love it so much?

I think it is the intentionality of how close they can come to your favorite flavor. You know, whatever your taste buds are telling you that this flavor is gonna taste like when you order it, when it comes to you in that cup, it’s there.

What’s your personal favorite menu item?

For me, it started off as lemon. And then it branched out into blue raspberry. But I’m gonna tell you mango is now my favorite Rita’s flavor. And I didn’t even know that mango was Rita’s leading flavor. It wasn’t until I got to Texas that I realized mango was my new favorite.

Learn more

You can explore more information about our franchise opportunity on 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!

Rita’s Franchise Review: Tom Kowal of Central New Jersey (Hunterdon County)

Multi-unit franchisee turned Rita’s into a family enterprise. See how he grew from fresh college graduate to multi-unit owner.

Rita’s branded cups of Italian ice

Owning multiple Rita’s franchises may be the smarter investment.

Tom Kowal owns four walk-up Rita’s Italian Ice units: a stand-alone in Clinton, NJ, that he purchased in 2006; an end-cap location in Flemington, NJ, which he acquired in 2011; and his third and fourth locations in Whitehouse Station and Stewartsville, NJ, which he has owned since 2014 and 2015 respectively.

“You really enjoy economies of scale at this level,” Kowal says. “Your payroll’s pretty low, your cost of goods is pretty low, and when it comes to food, it’s less perishable than most items. The shelf life is pretty good and you could get up and running with minimal overhead.”

Read about how Kowal got his start, and what’s next, in this Rita’s franchise review.

How did you first learn about Rita’s and how did you first come to this idea that you might want to be a Rita’s Franchisee?
It was kind of a family thing, I guess you could say. My aunt and uncle actually owned a shop in Bridgewater, and when they were going to build their Bridgewater shop, which is their first shop, it was 2003 and I was in college. Over my Christmas break I was like, “Look, I don’t have a summer job. If you want help I could help you out.” And they said, “Yeah, why don’t you come with me to this Rita’s six-day franchise training school” and I said alright. And the plan was they were going to get built out in the summer and I would come home for summer break and help them run the shop. As we know, construction delays happen and they couldn’t get up and running for the summer.

I went to the shop in Flemington, which I now own, to talk to the then-owner and said, “Hey, I have this training, can I help you out?” and he said, “Sure.” I started there making $5.15 an hour, which was minimum wage back then. After some time, he gave me the keys and I became a manager. Once my uncle and aunt were up and running, I went between the two shops helping them both and then the same thing the following year.

How did you make the leap to ownership?
Senior year comes around I don’t know what I want to do, like every other senior graduate. That winter, my mom saw an ad for the Clinton Rita’s for sale in a local newspaper. I’m thinking, hey, I’m 21, how am I going to buy a Rita’s? And my mom said, “Well if you don’t go talk to them, you’re never going to find out.”

I basically walked out of college and within a couple of weeks we closed the deal. I knew that doing one shop with a loan wouldn’t sustain the quality of life that I wanted, so I started looking at multiple locations.

Is your family involved in your Rita’s operations?
My mom and sister are both heavily involved in the business. We also have a stationary cart in a Little League complex and we have a mobile trailer. So we can do events at skating rinks. It really all builds on itself.

So are you able to meet your business goals with the units that you have now?
We are able to meet our business goals with each individual store. Every year we determine where growth opportunities exist and focus our efforts with a new strategy and a new set of goals. Our shops reached mature levels but we believe there is always room to grow and increase sales. This year we are discussing an adding another shop to our business portfolio.

What do you like best about being a Rita’s franchise owner?
It is a fun job. I mean, you’re dealing with people in a fun atmosphere. For the most part they’re not coming in with any issues. They’re coming to enjoy themselves, and you’re providing a way for them to do that. Making people happy is always awesome, even though there’s a lot of work involved and a lot of people underestimate that.

What does corporate offer in terms of support? How do they help you with your franchise marketing strategy?
They are pretty committed to helping out the franchisee with support. I also have had some really good Franchise Business Consultants who’ll do anything they can to help you. Their goals and their bonuses are all tied to our performance, so they’re incentivized to help us work toward our goals.

Do you talk to other franchisees out there. Do you get support from your fellow owners?
Yeah, everyone around me. We are a community of franchisees and are like a family to one another. It really comes down to, “Hey, I forgot to order this” or “I ran out of this other stuff, can I borrow a case or a sleeve of cups” or whatever and we try to help each other out because I’ll rub your back if you rub mine.

Rita’s provides a lot of support at all levels to their franchisees. We have an online forum exclusive to Rita’s for communicating with other franchisees.

What kind of person do you think would be successful as a Rita’s franchise owner?
I think somebody who’s outgoing and understands people and somebody that really just has good moral character. You’re dealing with people all the time, and you want to have just the right head on your shoulders to deal with them. Make sure you’re focusing on your guests, making them happy.

So if it’s the middle of summer, what does your typical day look like?
For me now, because I have four locations and I can’t be in all of them at once, I have to have four managers. So somebody is there handling the daily operations and I’m typically coordinating with my mom or my sister, who’s a general manager, for what all has to go on in the day. Planning out orders, inventory, marketing stuff, do we have any events coming up? Looking at the week as a whole if we can, up to the weekend. Because every day is different and every shop is different. The shop in Clinton is on a major highway, so at rush hour we’re dead. For the shop in Flemington, rush hour is busy because everyone’s right out of work and we’re right out where they are.

Two hands hold up three Rita’s branded cups of Italian ice against a backdrop of green bushes with a pink hibiscus blossom on the upper left-hand side.

Superior product and a proven business model make Rita’s a win-win for consumers and investors alike.

What is it that’s bringing customers into Rita’s? Why do your customers love Rita’s?
It’s definitely the product. Frozen custard is not the same as soft-serve ice cream, it’s superior.

How?
So, soft serve ice cream you can make in many different ways. Whether it’s a powder and water concentrate and you mix it together, or just using a liquid premix that maybe has high sugar, low butterfat. Whereas frozen custard has a higher level of butterfat so it is richer, it is creamier. Custard has a little bit of egg in the process to give it the custard flavor. The Italian ice flavors are simple and delicious and the kids come back because they love it, especially our Swedish Fish and Cotton Candy flavors.

We just have a decent combination of frozen treats you can make out of our ice and our custard that everyone can enjoy.

Tom, if you were just starting out today, knowing what you know now, would you still become a Rita’s franchisee?
Yes. From an investment standpoint, I’d still do a Rita’s because I think the investment is still worth it.

Learn more

If you’d like to learn more about the growing Italian ice business 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 more Rita’s franchise reviews.

Rita’s Franchise Review: Rob Tarr of Fairhope, AL

Coast Guard veteran and former nuclear engineer shifts gears to an exciting new career as Alabama’s first multi-unit franchisee

A mango and watermelon Italian ice in a Rita’s branded cup is surrounded by wedges of watermelon and slices of mango.

Frozen treats of every kind are welcome in the Alabama heat, which is why Rob Tarr decided to become a multi-unit developer for Rita’s Italian ice.

As a self-described military brat, Rob Tarr grew up all over the country, never really attaching to one particular place. Alabama became a frequent destination for Rob and his family when Rob’s parents retired in the beachfront community of Fairhope, AL. “Every time we’d come down to visit, our love for the Georgia-Alabama area grew steady and strong with each visit.We love the people here. It’s a great place to be,” Tarr says. “So we invested in some property. “And every time they visited, his wife, Debra, who grew up in the Philadelphia area where Rita’s is based, suggested a Rita’s franchise would fit very well in the area. In 2014, the couple decided to stop dreaming and take action, opening their first location in Foley, AL. Two more followed, in Fairhope and Gulf Shores, AL. In this Rita’s franchise review, Rob Tarr talks about the journey – and his vision about what’s next.

What made you decide on Rita’s?
From our point of view, it made sense. It’s a very good-quality product, and to be in a beach resort community, especially in the South where it gets pretty hot, an Italian ice and frozen custard franchise screamed a need for the area and for us a very solid investment.

Tell me a little about what you were doing before joining Rita’s, and a little about your military experience before that.
I was working in the nuclear industry. I was a Safety System Engineer. Previously, I was in the Coast Guard, from 1984 through 1996, where I did some law enforcement and some vessel safety boardings. I was also an officer, so I led groups of people, sometimes up to 30 people at a time, in different tasks.

Have the skill sets you learned in the military helped you in your role as a Rita’s multi-unit owner?
Yes, they have. I had to lead groups of people to complete certain assignments or missions when I was in the military, and now I’m running a company where we’re up to about 50 employees in the summertime. Essentially, I’m transferring that leadership training into multi-unit operations and small business management.

A Rita’s cup of frozen custard is covered in rainbow sprinkles on one side and chocolate sprinkles on the other.

When your wife was talking about how Rita’s would be such a good brand for the Fairhope area, did you ever consider other brands?
No, not really, because we were so drawn to the brand of Rita’s itself. We felt like, because of the quality of the product, we didn’t want to look at anything else, and we just weren’t interested in other brands. Rita’s quality was enough that it made us want to go that route.

And how have the stores gone over in those communities?
We’ve identified that there are some challenges to doing something like this. We’re going into a new market and trying to expose the public to a new brand. But we’re overcoming those, and our sales have been increasing steadily.

How have you been introducing the wonders of Italian ice and frozen custard to Southerners who may not be used to those things?
Our marketing campaign involves a billboard, but the biggest bang for our buck is that we’re also operating at condominiums on the beach. And so we sell our product poolside on the beach in Gulf Shores. That’s been a great way to introduce people to our products, especially when you’re sitting on the hot beach, and a cool Rita’s treat is right there near you. It’s very refreshing.

What are some of the valuable things HQ does to support you, both as a franchise owner and as an Area Developer?
They do a very good job with supporting us in operations and marketing. We always have everything we need, as far as operations – if we have a problem with our system or equipment, we have plenty of people ready to help us at a moment’s notice. The other thing is, the marketing team does a superb job in helping us with the direct marketing with the displays, billboards, brochures and handouts that we have at our stores. They have a lot of selections for how we can market our business.

Are you open year-round in your locations?
We do close temporarily at the beach for only about one month. Our store front locations operate year-round and stay open.

What does your typical day look like? Are you spending time in each store, or are you focused right now on the development of more Alabama territories?
Yeah, I do spend a little bit of time in the stores and more time out in the field engaging with communities and determining development opportunities for new markets. I work closely with the corporate folks on educating onboarding franchisees. I love sharing what I know about opening a new store. I recently welcomed our two newest Alabama franchisees that are on track to open their stores in the summer of 2019 in Huntsville and Tuscaloosa by the University of Alabama. We are working hard to generate leads and welcome more franchises in Alabama. Then, we can really leverage our marketing efforts and brand exposure as a group.

My personal feeling is, Alabama is a goldmine for a franchise, because we have a cool, quality product for a very hot climate. Franchise interest in Alabama has significantly increased, and several prospective single- and multi-unit franchisees are working through the process to become Rita’s franchisees. There are still great territories left, so if anyone is interested in opening their own Rita’s, they should go to www.ownaritas.com.

What kind of person do you think would be successful with Rita’s? Are there certain characteristics you look for? Are veterans a good fit?
What we typically find are people who are looking to start their own business that is a solid investment. You don’t have to have business experience, because the franchise provides extensive support. That’s one of the benefits to franchising. We just want somebody who is outgoing and enjoys putting smiles on kids’ faces. That’s the best way to put it. It’s fun to watch people come in and try it for the first time and see their faces light up. So if you like putting smiles on people’s faces, this is the business for you.

And yeah, I believe veterans do very well in this kind of environment, because they are typically hard-working, driven and well-trained to be professionals. Also, veterans get a 50% discount on their initial franchise fees. That’s a very big savings. That’s very beneficial.

How large do you hope to grow your own unit number?
Our goal is to have 15 stores.

Since you and your wife are both working in the business, are you meeting your business goals or on your way to meeting your goals right now?
We are growing and thriving and are excited about the onboarding of Rita’s new CEO, Linda Chadwick, and the direction the company is taking. We’re close to launching many Rita’s in this area.

Is there anything else I haven’t asked that you would want prospective franchisees to know about?
It’s a growing market, it’s a growing franchise, and now is a very good time to get in.

Read more Rita’s franchise reviews

If you’d like to hear more from our owners, check out other Rita’s franchisee reviews on our blog. 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!