TCBY – The Country’s Bygone Yogurt

TCBYThe scene was a sultry June evening in Regina’s third favourite frozen yogurt (froyo, or “FROYO” to which my my phone has grown accustomed to autocorrecting it) shop. After making plans to bike to TCBY, which is short for The Country’s (self-proclaimed) Best Yogurt, I’d ditched the idea at the last minute in order to take my car and get there five minutes earlier to avoid the awkward the-entire-staff-hates-me-for-walking-in-right-at-close scenario.

Success. I arrived at exactly 10:50pm.

Just a half hour prior, I’d been at the SYPE SIlver Spades Entrepreneurship Awards where I’d enjoyed a few plates of delicious chipotle ribs (or 8 plates, as @rickmakesstuff pointed out via Twitter, only slightly exaggeratedly) and was looking for the perfect dessert to follow them up with. Enter FROYO.

And now it was at my fingertips. The Golden Vanilla/Chocolate swirl machine was right in front of me and the rainbow sprinkles were basking in all their glory between the candied pecans and mini cherry twists.

I didn’t even have to open my mouth to let the soon-to-be-yogurt-wielding employee know what I was craving because my salivation was soon met with the 1,2 *counting on fingers* 3,4,5,6, ugliest words i’d ever heard:

“I’m sorry sir. TCBY is closed.” I was speechless. I barely even heard her next words because of my hungry-anger (hanger?) flooding my thoughts. I think she muttered something to the effect of;

“You can still get hard ice cream but the TCBY part is closed. We’re cleaning the machines.” My silent reply was something like:

“I came here for the country’s best yogurt, not the country’s most average hard ice cream.” TCMAHIC doesn’t have nearly the same ring to it, you guys. But of course this part is all hindsight wit.

Anyways, even after I’d stormed out empty-handed and ready to take my business elsewhere (a difficult thing to do at that hour in Regina) and once my annoyed state had passed, I couldn’t help but fear once again for the TCBY franchise.

It’s no secret that self-serve pay-by-the-ounce frozen yogurt shops are taking cities by storm these days. It’s evident as we see Tutti Fruiti, Menchies, FROYO Life, and Spoon Me (I know, right?) locations popping up everywhere. I’ve often wondered how TCBY would respond, if at all, to their heavily-favoured competition.

If there was a plan in place, I’m sure it wouldn’t involve closing early. Regina’s south TCBY has always been the place that starts mopping up 45 min before close, has half the chairs on the tables an hour before close, and makes sure you’re only getting a teaspoon of toppings if you’re only paying for a teaspoon of toppings. Perhaps what some managers might consider “business efficiencies” are hindering the customer experience at a time in which and in a competitive business world where every customer needs to be (and expects to be) fought for.

So, my message to you, TCBY, would be to find a way to show every customer you care and want their business. Whether that means making changes to the way the yogurt is served, the number of flavours available, the personnel doing the serving, or some other aspect of the customer experience is up to you. What you need to keep in mind is that there’s no such thing as a neutral brand impression. Every time someone comes into contact with ANY extension of your brand, they are caused to like you more or like you less. There impression never stays the same. Keep that in mind on a daily basis.

And if Menchie’s and Tutti Fruitti haven’t eaten you alive yet, it must be because you taste average, just like your yogurt.