Freddy's Finds a Fabulous Franchise

Retailer’s newest venture mirrors his own chain’s credo
bowl of Dippin Dots

Jeff Warnick needed something absolutely fabulous. He was determined to find a franchise that mirrored his credo: providing “fabulous fun” for his customers.

Warnick, chief financial officer for Las Vegas-based Fabulous Freddy’s, a chain of eight stores, found it in a Doc Popcorn/Dippin’ Dots co-branded franchise venture. He debuted the concept in his St. George, Utah, store last March.

Warnick’s customers include many kids who frequent the chain’s full-service, sensory-inspiring car washes. And the new franchise has more kid favorites: Doc Popcorn delivers fresh-popped, kettle-cooked popcorn, while Dippin’ Dots offers flash-frozen ice cream, sundaes, floats, shakes and “quakes,” a proprietary novelty item the chain offers.

“We have a nostalgic vibe, including complementary full-service fuel,” says Warnick. “Our mission is to provide a fabulous experience whenever someone walks through our door.”

By coincidence, that’s what Doc Popcorn/Dippin’ Dots is all about, says Rob Israel, franchisor and co-founder. “Fabulous Freddy’s partnership provides the first opportunity for us to create a ‘store-in-store’ concept in a c-store,” he says.

Fabulous Freddy’s inside sales rose in April and May thanks in part to the addition of the franchise.

Warnick hopes this venture can blend two fun product types into one unified 500-square-foot program. “We like the simplicity of the model—there’s not many layers to oversee. It was plug-and-play,” he says.

Already, Warnick has learned valuable lessons on how to be franchise-focused.

  • Let past inform present. Fabulous Freddy’s once owned an “It’s a Grind” coffee franchise that didn’t pan out and had separate ventures where the chain leased space in some stores to Dunkin’ Donuts and Roberto’s Taco Shops. Warnick said the experience allowed the chain to sharpen its franchise focus.
  • Attain ROI. Freddy’s inside sales rose 7% in April and May over the same period in 2015 and market-basket performance also has been accelerated, thanks in part to the franchise.
  • Build incremental business. Some of Fabulous Freddy’s customers tended to stay in their cars during the car wash. Warnick says those customers entered the store more often thanks to the presence of the franchise. “The goal was to get those wash folks inside,” he says.
  • Pick a solid and aggressive franchise partner. While Fabulous Freddy’s paid a startup fee plus royalties for Doc Popcorn/Dippin’ Dots, Warnick considers it reasonable. “We got into this venture at an early stage, where terms and conditions were favorable. We were the second retailer to open this franchise in the United States,” he says.
  • Identify the right test-pilot store. The St. George store is in “a very family-friendly town, and we’ve been there for several years,” Warnick says.