Tasti D-Lite, LLC | www.tastidlite.com | A Tasty Opportunity |
Published in the March/April 2011 issue of print Search & Employ® |
It seems like the perfect recipe for business success: invent a dessert that not only tastes great, but is also healthy. That product has existed since 1987 – Tasti D-Lite, which offers more than 100 rich flavors such as peanut butter fudge and raspberry cheesecake that are made with natural ingredients, but without additional calories or fat.
The dream began in the kitchen of a New York woman who wanted to enjoy frozen treats without having the worry of adding inches to her waistline. She enlisted the help of her food technologist father. Experimenting with different ingredients and flavors, they created the formula that is satisfying taste buds across the country. Tasti D-Lite is now sold through a network of more than 60 independently owned and operated centers, most in the greater New York City area.
In 2007, a New York private equity firm acquired the company. Heading the new company, Tasti D-Lite LLC, is Chief Executive Officer James Amos Jr., a Vietnam War veteran who grew Mail Boxes Etc. to 5,000 units before selling to UPS in 2001.Tasti D-Lite plans to build a 500-center franchise network in just five years.
Amos is a past chairman of the International Franchise Association. He also has experience in the frozen dessert category, having built a 2,500-store network for “I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt!” In addition he has written three best-sellers and recently published The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Franchising. All told, Amos has more than 30 years in the franchising field.
“Veterans should get into franchising for several reasons,” Amos said. “Anyone can do it because you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. It also often comes at a lower cost than opening a business on your own. But veterans will take to franchising well because they will realize the value of a tried-and-true operating system. We can provide everything they need to get rolling – promotions, marketing, price benefits, relationships.”
Amos sees the franchisor’s role as helping the franchisee avoid as many potholes as possible. “We want to help them be as successful as possible for a long time,” he said.
Amos believes franchising was made for veterans. “I don’t think that there is any better business model for a veteran,” he said. “They know how to operate within a system, have the discipline to get the job done, have the necessary leadership skills and work ethic, are courteous, and know how to treat people with respect. I can’t think of a candidate that is better suited for franchising than someone coming out of the military.”
Amos notes that although franchising does require an initial monetary investment to get started, many veterans leave the military with money set aside. There are also options for veterans such as VetFran (www.vetfran.com) that can lower some of the costs of entry and provide extra assistance to veterans looking into franchising.
“Tasti D-Lite has what we consider a reasonable to low cost of entry,” Amos said. “This is not a complex business, but we’ve shown it to be a very profitable one that is easy to run.”
What is Tasti D-Lite? It’s not “ice cream” because it does not have the substantial butter fat and total solids of ice cream. It is also not yogurt because it does contain live cultures. For each four-ounce serving, most flavors have just 80 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 14 grams of carbs and five grams of sugar. It has a proprietary base mix formulation made with real dairy and the finest natural ingredients, and contains no artificial sweeteners.
“Anyone with a passion for a product and a drive to succeed should give franchising serious consideration,” said Amos. “One day you’ll wake up (as a franchisee) and a find that you are living your dreams and have found independence. Even in tough economic times, franchise sales go up. A franchise can be as big as the franchisee believes it can be.”
Amos especially wants to help veterans succeed. “If there is anything I can do to help a veteran I want to get involved,” he said. “Our dream team of franchising at Tasti D-Lite has more than 300 years of collective franchising experience. We can help veterans realize their dreams.”