Weekly Business Profile
Olo Yogurt Studio
Type of business:
We sell frozen yogurt and happiness
3339 Central Ave. NE, Suite C
Albuquerque NM 87106
Number of Employees:
Why did you choose this business?
I love the self-serve frozen yogurt concept! After graduating from UNM, I moved to California for grad school and I found myself indulging in froyo at these self-serve stores every chance I got. Frozen yogurt is a healthy and wholesome treat and allows customers portion control—characteristics that are difficult to find in our current fast food market, never mind dessert options. I thought Albuquerque could really use a great frozen yogurt place so we set out to deliver just that in 2010. It was important to us to remain independent because we believe being part of a chain would limit our ability to do new things and to make choices that were important to us. It was also our goal to become a meaningful part of the community we opened our store in—and being limited by someone else’s idea of what worked in some other state just didn’t fit with our goals.
What is your educational background?
I earned a degree in biology from UNM in 2006 and a master’s in public health in 2009. The rest of the ownership team spent their time getting degrees in computer science, management information systems and an MBA. We’re a pretty diverse group! Since we are a food business, we take health and food safety very seriously—my science and health background is quite useful and comes in handy when stressing the importance of food safety as well as explaining how the live and active bacteria cultures in our yogurt function!
What significant changes have you implemented recently?
This spring we rolled out our custom loyalty program called Olo Libre! Technology is a huge part of our identity and we could not live with ourselves if we took the route of the simple punch card that every other store seems to do. We wrote custom software to allow our customers to earn points and rewards using just their phone number at checkout. Rewards are emailed to them automatically and they have the option to show the reward on their mobile phone to redeem. They can track all their purchases online. It’s been very successful.
What successes in the past year are you most proud of accomplishing?
As exciting as it was to see our Olo Yogurt cups used in an episode of “Breaking Bad,” the highlight of the past year for our business was making a clean sweep of the local awards circuit—first place in the Alibi’s Best of Burque, ABQ the Magazine’s Best of the City and UNM Daily Lobo’s Lo Mejor awards.
What do you offer that the competition doesn't?
Hopefully a lot of things! We offer a large selection of daily hand-cut fruits, even though it costs a little more to provide. This spring we awarded our first “free frozen yogurt for life” prize to one of our lucky customers! That was a lot of fun. In addition to our charitable giving efforts, we tend to focus our differentiation on developing a store with a personality. We have awesome employees and encourage them to not be boring. One thing we are really proud of is that we offer a 401(k) with employer match for all of our employees. We haven’t come across many businesses like ours that do that.
What are your growth goals?
Our company growth plan is tightly guarded, but I will say we do have plans to add another location in the short term. We are not millionaires who have money to burn or to open five stores all at once, so our growth is much more calculated. We have to make sure we can retain our identity and keep doing the things that are important to us in terms of brand-building and community involvement. Since we are not part of a franchise, we don’t have the pressure to expand at the pace that some of those companies expect.
What contributions to the community are you most proud of?
Olo does monthly fundraising partnerships where a percentage of gross sales for a day goes directly to a partner nonprofit organization. That has worked so well, we are currently booked up through March 2013! In addition to the monthly partnerships, we’ve been able to help a lot of different causes through cash, product or gift card donations. Charitable giving was one of the key pieces of our business and we’re really happy to be able to give back. We also try to source a lot of our toppings locally. We’d rather support small businesses than national brands when possible.
What neighboring businesses do you tend to frequent?
Stilo, Bailey’s, Slice Parlor, The Flower Shop, Aqui, Heart and Soul, La Montañita. Becoming a contributing member of the Nob Hill community has been rewarding. It’s such a great neighborhood to own a business. I feel very lucky.
Who has inspired you?
My grandpa turns 90 in August. He was the original entrepreneur in my family. He owns a ranch in Mora and has owned a number of other small businesses. My family has learned a lot from his amazing work ethic. It is an awesome feeling to have him visit Olo and see the way he lights up with pride.
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