1. Tell us about your business.
Our family-owned business is a self-serve frozen yogurt business named Swirleez. In addition to frozen-yogurt, we also serve homemade crepes, waffles, frozen yogurt sandwiches (also known as the Swirleez Sandwich) and a variety of beverages (such as coffee, loose-leaf teas, cold drinks, yogurt smoothies, and iced cappuccinos). We discovered this concept a year and a half ago on a family trip to Myrtle Beach where we first saw and experience the fun, creativity and healthfulness of self-serve frozen yogurt. We fell in love immediately and felt it was a concept that could be embraced in our city of Barrie, Ontario. We opened our doors on May 8, 2014 to an explosion of business! We served over 40,000 bowls of yogurt in just 3 months, selling over 20,000 pounds of yogurt in that time. We had to go through two hiring streams, employing 10-12 people at any one time and took over an additional 1200 sq. ft. space for storage. We have already expanded our business to include a Swirleez Party Room that provides private birthday parties or a fun meeting space for local downtown businesses.
Our location is stellar, with a downtown central location and facing the beautiful waterfront of Kempenfelt Bay and Heritage Park. Our patio is one of the closest and most picturesque to the waterfront. Our decor is reminiscent of a South Beach Miami feel – very cheery, colourful, and happy. Our customer service is second to none, which is why customers comment that they experience a positive and happy experience when entering our space. We have a relaxing lounge with a fireplace and lots of seating both inside and out.
2. How has QuickBooks helped you start, run or grow your business?
I have been using QuickBooks Online since April 2014. I mainly use QuickBooks Online for entering data, summarizing totals, and especially for GST/HST filing.
QuickBooks Online has helped start and grow my business with its flexibility. It has allowed me to be able to work from remote areas and have my accountant and bookkeeper access the books. Being able to construct a report by inputting parameters is very easy and the result – a very professional, easy to read report is produced! Reports of summaries for sales, expenses are also easily derived and reported.
Initially, I had a family member start to do our books but then switched to a bookkeeper. Having a program that was easy to use and straightforward allowed for a smooth transition from one bookkeeper to another without loss of data and errors. I used to use another bookkeeping software program for a second business I own, however, that was not easy in the least! QuickBooks Online is much more user-friendly!
3. What was your first “big win” moment as a business owner? That moment when you said, “Hey, I can do this!”
Our first big win was seeing and hearing people’s rave reviews upon entering our space. They appreciate the attention to detail, cool decor, colours, cleanliness, and superior product. It made us feel that all the hard work was all worth it! Our sales also show us that Barrie residents and tourists to the area, have embraced our concept and business as they were triple our expectations.
4. What is the best advice you could give to someone just starting out?
My advice to someone starting out is to do your homework thoroughly. This included research on product, location, marketing, niche, and also competitors. It is also great to visit other similar businesses in other locations for ideas and to speak to other business owners at business events/networking opportunities. Seek a good graphic designer who can help build your brand. This has been very evident for us as many instantly believe we are a franchise, even though we are not, just because of our consistent branding throughout our space, and online marketing.