Top 250 Franchise by Entrepreneur – Rank no. 188 – Ben & Jerry’s – US
Products & Services: Ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet, smoothies
Number of Locations: 622
Total Investment: $147.8K – 450.79K
Began Franchising: 1981
About Ben & Jerry’s
Ben & Jerry’s is named for its founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, who grew up together in Merrick, Long Island. In 1978, they took a $5 correspondence course on ice-cream-making, then leased an old gas station building in Burlington, Vermont to open their first ice cream shop. They began selling pints of ice cream to local restaurants and grocery stores out of Cohen’s VW campervan. As Cohen had no sense of taste, he relied on “mouth feel" when eating, so large chunks of chocolate, fruit and nuts became a signature of their ice cream flavors. Cohen and Greenfield opened their first franchise in 1981. In 2000, they sold Ben & Jerry’s to Unilever, but the company remains headquartered in Burlington, Vermont.
Where Seeking Franchisees: Franchisor is seeking new franchise units in the following states:
California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Midwest, North Carolina, Northeast, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South, South Carolina, Southeast, Southwest, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West, Wisconsin.
Franchisor is seeking new units in Asia, Australia/New Zealand, Canada, Eastern Europe, Mexico, Western Europe.
Startup Costs, Ongoing Fees and Financing
Total Investment: $147,800 – $450,800
Franchise Fee: $37,000
Ongoing Royalty Fee: 3%
Term of Franchise Agreement: 10 years, renewable
Net Worth: $350,000
Liquid Cash Available: $100,000
33% of all franchisees own more than one unit. Absentee ownership of franchise is NOT allowed..
How This Franchise Supports Franchisees
Training: Available at headquarters: 8 days. At franchisee’s location: 3-5 days.
Ongoing Support: Newsletter, Meetings, Toll-free phone line, Grand opening, Internet, Security/safety procedures, Field operations/evaluations
Marketing Support: Co-op advertising, Ad slicks, National media, Regional advertising,
Franchise Ranking History
Franchise 500®: #188 (2013), #238 (2012), #220 (2011), #98 (2010), #120 (2009),
America’s Top Global: #57 (2013), #186 (2012), #172 (2011), #80 (2010), #95 (2009),
From a renovated gas station in Burlington, Vermont, to far-off places with names we sometimes mispronounce, what began over 30 years ago with 2 guys creating otherworldly ice cream flavors has turned into a tastebud-boggling odyssey of Ben & Jerry’s desserts served around the world. As for the 2 guys who started it all, their story starts way before that:
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield grew up in Merrick, Long Island. They first met in junior high school, where they struck up a lasting friendship.
Jerry finished college but couldn’t get into any med schools; Ben got into several colleges but dropped out of every one of them. They realized they weren’t getting anywhere doing what they were doing. But they knew they had to do something, so they decided to start their own food business.
Neither of them knew anything about starting a business. But they knew a lot about eating – especially ice cream – so it made sense (to them, anyway) to open an ice cream shop.
Soooo, after splitting the cost of a $5 correspondence course on ice cream-making from Penn State University, they combined their $8000 life savings with a $4000 bank loan, leased an old gas station building in Burlington, Vermont, and opened for business on May 5, 1978.
Using an old-fashioned ice cream freezer, they began churning out all the rich & creamy, fun & chunky ice cream flavors they’d always dreamed about, flavors loaded with all their favorite chunks of fruits, nuts, candies, and cookies.
Soon there were long lines stretching out the door of the old gas station, as more and more folks clamored for a taste of Ben & Jerry’s flavor creations.
Their ice cream was such a hit, it wasn’t long before they began selling it to local restaurants, then grocery stores and supermarkets throughout Vermont and beyond. Way beyond.
Original flavors and sundaes
A pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream
Main article: List of Ben & Jerry’s ice creams
Chubby Hubby consists of vanilla malt ice cream swirled with fudge and peanut butter, and containing pretzel nuggets covered in fudge and filled with peanut butter. For the month of September 2009, Ben and Jerry’s, in partnership with Freedom to Marry, renamed Chubby Hubby to Hubby Hubby, in celebration of the legalization of same-sex marriage in the company’s home state of Vermont. The carton featured the image of two men getting married beneath a rainbow.
On March 13, 2012, Ben & Jerry’s announced it will be changing the name of one of its ice cream flavors in the UK in support of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. Oh! My! Apple Pie! will become Apple-y Ever After and tubs will feature a gay couple atop a wedding cake decorated with rainbows.
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield appeared on the The Colbert Report on March 5, 2007 to promote their new ice cream flavor, Stephen Colbert’s AmeriCone Dream, and their grassroots education and advocacy project, TrueMajority.
The company renamed a flavor, Yes Pecan, in reference to Barack Obama’s victory in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election. They later decided in January 2009 to donate all proceeds made on the sale of that flavor to the Common Cause Education Fund.
On March 2, 2011 Cohen and Greenfield appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and unveiled their new flavor of ice cream, Late Night Snack, whose carton features a picture of Jimmy Fallon on it.
The Vermonster is a large ice cream sundae served in a “Vermonster Bucket" in Ben & Jerry’s “scoop shops." Its ingredients are 20 scoops of ice cream, 4 bananas, 4 ladles of hot fudge, 3 chocolate chip cookies, 1 chocolate fudge brownie, 10 scoops of walnuts, 2 scoops each of 4 toppings of your choice, and whipped cream. It contains 14,000 calories, and 500 grams of fat. The Vermonster Challenge is an annual charity event held by Ben & Jerry’s in which teams of four compete to finish a Vermonster and win free ice cream for a year.
Girl in cow costume promoting Free Cone Day outside a Ben & Jerry’s shop in Stockholm, Sweden
Free Cone Day is an annual event held between late March and early May, in which Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops give out free ice cream cups and cones. The most recent event took place on Tuesday, April 9, 2013 from noon to 8 p.m. The first Free Cone Day was held on Saturday, May 5, 1979 by Ben and Jerry as a customer and staff appreciation event for the first anniversary of their store’s opening.
Over one million free cones are given away each year, prompting the company’s ad slogan “Be One In A Million." Charitable organizations are often present at the stores each year and enjoy a significant amount of fundraising success. Often, local celebrities show up at various stores, promoting the day and the charities there. Sometimes the event is scheduled to coincide with Earth Day and sometimes volunteers are on hand with clipboards and voter registration forms to help those who would like to register to vote.
The Ben and Jerry’s ice cream factory has an ice cream graveyard on site, where the graves of past ice cream flavors exist. Favorite flavors can be resurrected from their grave to be brought back into stores. Customers can request the return of a favorite flavor by filling out a form on the website.