Cold Rock Ice Cream and the dessert trends

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Inside Franchise Business: Cold Rock Ice Creamery specialises in the mix-inA dessert business appeals to Australia's sweet tooth, and one of the brands that has a distinct offer in this space is Cold Rock Ice Creamery - customers can add their choice of toppings to ice cream or gelato.

Owned by Franchised Food Company (FFCo), Cold Rock Ice Creamery is “not just about the ice cream – it’s all about the theatrical, customised experience”, says director Stan Gordon.

Customers are offered a range of ice cream and sorbet flavours, then add their choice of mix-ins such as chocolates, lollies, fruits and nuts. This combo is then mixed and smashed together in front of the customer on the “Cold Rock”, a frozen granite bar, and served up in their choice of a cup, cone, shake, take-home pack or cake. 

“With more than 3000 flavour combinations available, it’s the theatre ‘while you wait’ that sets us apart,” says Gordon.

The target market is families, young children, teenagers and ice-cream lovers.

  “We’re all about innovating our offering to make it better. We’re constantly adding new mix-ins and flavours that keep up with trends, like the recent Nutella craze.

“We’re also constantly diversifying the Cold Rock brand with new offerings. A good example is the Super Kosher range we’ve just launched in our Malvern [Victoria] store.

“While we are always on the lookout for new ideas, the Cold Rock ‘Choose it, mix it, smash it, love it’ essence and design of service has fundamentally remained the same since inception … only we keep on making it better.”

Though the brand responds to food-industry trends, it isn’t quick to jump on short-term trends, instead finding a balance aimed at keeping loyal customers happy.

Gordon says that though some franchises engage with the likes of Menulog and Ubereats, "technology such as apps does not play a major role in the business”.

He says the Cold Rock Cake Builder has proved particularly popular. “Customers can create their own custom ice-cream cake in their choice of flavours, mix-ins, decorations and special messages ... We are not aware of anything as sophisticated within our market sector.”

The cost of a Cold Rock franchise is about $250,000, and a Cold Rock Express less than $110,000. 

As part of FFCo, which owns and runs other retail food brands such as Healthy Habits, Pretzel World, Trampoline Gelato and Mr Whippy, Cold Rock offers its franchisees access to buying power. “We work with a number of larger, reputable food, beverage, ingredient and packaging suppliers to ensure we offer our franchisees the best prices possible,” says Gordon.

Of course, franchisees need to be aware of what they are getting into when they invest in a franchise. “There’s no doubt becoming your own boss is an adjustment – but one any new business owner (franchise or not) is familiar with,” says Gordon.

“We are not here to run your business - we can only help you not make mistakes."

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