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Tie-Dye Popsicles Vans Evoke Nostalgia

frios president patti rother
By Callie Evergreen Franchise Times
December 30, 2021
Who remembers the iconic (albeit slightly creepy) jingle of the ice cream truck, begging your parents for a couple bucks and chasing the van down the street? That nostalgia and emotion is what Frios Gourmet Pops is actually selling, says Patti Rother, who was named the new president of the brand on December 6.
“The thing I really loved about Frios is the idea of the popsicle representing a potential pause,” Rother said. “Especially as adults, we forget about joyful moments and happy moments. Children totally get it. The sound of an ice cream van makes children run as fast as they can, it’s a happy moment for them. As adults, we don’t take enough of those.”
The frozen pop franchise actually started out as brick-and-mortar retail locations. It wasn’t until the pandemic hit in 2020 that they flipped to a mobile model, complete with tie-dye wrapped vans called “Sweet Rides” that blast music and shine colorful LED lights. Frios even calls their franchisees “Happiness Hustlers.”
“If you look at it, it screams fun, and that’s what we are. We sell happiness for a living,” said CEO Cliff Kennedy in a February 2021 article. “You don’t have machines to clean up, you just have to unplug a freezer to unthaw it sometimes. There are no complicated systems to learn, which is what people are attracted to.”
Now at 50 units open—most of which are still retail locations—Frios is revamping their growth strategy and only offering mobile franchises, which cost $35,000 to $40,000.
“Obviously it was really complicated to get vans, customize and outfit them and get them to franchisees all over the country,” Rother added. “Because of that, we never took time to readdress what kinds of franchisees are best for our system, because who we were attracting for retail might not be the person who wants a mobile van food truck.”
Rother will temporarily take over franchise sales from Kennedy until they bring someone else on board. She spent three days at Frios’ headquarters in Mobile, Alabama earlier this month identifying the brand’s target franchisee and markets to go after, and plans to double the brand’s footprint in 2022 by selling multi-unit agreements and adding new franchisees.
In the meantime, Rother and Frios Chief Creative Officer Ingrid Schneider are going on a “listening tour” in January, where they’ll visit each franchisee in person. They hope to be wrapped up by early spring before Frios’ busy season starts.
“We’ll spend one-on-one time understanding their wants and needs, their why, so we can build systems and help them in ways they truly need help,” Rother said. “I’m excited about that. It’s going to be a ton of time on the road but totally worth it to see them.”
Rother is no stranger to traveling a lot. Though she was born in the U.S., she still has three siblings who live in Argentina, as well as nieces and nephews. “My mom goes back and forth. I’ve always had my heart split in two pieces,” Rother said. “…the pandemic has been so hard for people with international families.”
The taste of a Creamy Coconut Frios pop immediately transports Rother to a memory of her dad at a beach on Long Island. “It’s beautiful how a frozen dessert can bring me back to my dad, who I lost as a child, and warm my heart and make me cry in the same moment,” Rother added. “We live for these moments at Frios.”
Look for more about Rother’s backstory and future goals for Frios in the upcoming February issue of Franchise Times.
Read the full article here.