Innovative frozen yoghurt shop ‘Yolovit’ at the Eden Plaza adopts a new method of business in Seychelles which focuses on self service. It allows customers to help themselves to the products they are buying– an aspect owner Steve Colas says keeps customers coming back.
It’s clear from the moment you set foot into the Yolovit frozen yoghurt shop (word play combining ‘you love it’ and yoghurt’) that it is an innovative concept. Customers line the wall where all the frozen yoghurt flavour machines are located, serving themselves to as much frozen yoghurt, toppings, and candy as they wish.
“People like to serve themselves,” owner Steve Colas notices. “Payment is made simple, based on the weight of your cup. As a child I remember I always wanted to work the ice cream machine, which was always behind counters back then. I’m sure other people, especially kids, feel the same way. So when they come and realize they can serve themselves, they get excited.”
Shop owner Steve Colas
Popular frozen yoghurt flavours right now include Caramel with Salted Butter, Cheesecake, and the Classic Mango.
Mr. Colas opened shop on 11 November 2016. Two months in, he says business is going well.
“We are very surprised with the public’s reactions; we thought that tourists who are familiar with the concept would be our main customer, but Seychellois like the concept and quality too,” he rejoices.
The cup is weighed at the till to determine the cost
“It’s what we discovered with Sey Si Bon juice bar, also on Eden Island, Mahe – Seychelles’ main island- where I first started doing frozen yoghurts four years ago. You cannot survive on tourists alone,” he points out.
Explaining the nature of the business, Mr. Colas recalls,
“When I first arrived in Seychelles seven years ago, I went to a restaurant and ordered a fresh juice and they told me they did not have any. I was shocked! How can a tropical island, with so many fresh fruits, not produce any fresh juice? We first introduced the concept at the Sey Si Bon juice bar. We had a single machine and we put frozen yoghurt in their smoothies. This was a test and it showed me that the idea was quite popular, people loved it. We had ten different smoothies with frozen yoghurt inside it. When we started selling it in a cone, people loved it even more!”
Due to the restrictive size of the juice bar, Mr. Colas could not expand, and started his search for premises on which to open shop. But it’s not all a walk in the park.
“It’s not only rent that is expensive in Seychelles, but simply to find space available is hard – there is no available space! I know for a fact that this kind of business would do well in the Beau Vallon beach area for example, or even at the airport or in Victoria, but it’s costly and hard to find space.”
He eventually found a solution on Eden Island, Mahe – Seychelles’ main island, where he himself resides. “I know the Eden Plaza well so for me it’s very easy to manage. Of course I’ve got other expenses to keep in mind; one machine is worth USD 10,000. It’s an investment. I mainly used the funds I’ve accumulated over the years doing business with Sey Si Bon juice bar to put up capital for this business venture.”
The self-service is not the only innovative aspect of the business – the shop is just as creatively designed.
“I am a graphic designer by profession as well. I spent 15 years doing layouts and designs in Paris. I drew out all the designs for this shop, and then did them in 3D. I also went abroad to do my research on the concept. The original concept first came from the United States, but now it has even spread to Mauritius where they have a frozen yoghurt franchise. In France it’s the same as well. That’s when I thought we should have one here,” he mentions.
“I also included the candy bar, as an additional service because the shop looked kind of empty and I felt there was something missing,” he explains.
“I was frustrated especially when children came to the shop and complained about some of the yoghurts – not all of them will like the flavours on display so then they can pick up from candy instead. I asked my kids for advice; I told them I have a free wall and they also suggested a candy bar,” he adds with a smile.
There are health benefits to frozen yoghurt, which according to Mr. Colas includes “less than 1% fat.”
“Ice creams and yoghurt have in common a 5-10% fat content,” he compares. “We mix the local fruits and berries and work with fresh fruit puree from Burtcher’s Bar as well because they cut their own mangoes for the juices. They keep some for us. We are not importing the produce, and we use local dairy to make the yoghurt as well. We also have a strict policy for the cleaning of the machines, so as we interchange them for cleaning, we change the flavours too.”
He further explains that the back kitchen, with one worker who prepares the machines for two hours in the morning before opening, ensures all the frozen yoghurt being served is fresh.
“The business is quite easy to manage. Right now, we mainly focus on showing customers how the service works.”
Mr. Colas also speaks up about the trend in Seychelles’ business – copying other successful and unique businesses until the market is saturated.
“In six months you will see another frozen yoghurt shop, I’m sure someone else will copy the idea. When we open Sey Si Bon, six to eight months later the some other shops adopted the same concepts. That is business though, and you have to be proud when people copy you, it’s the simplest form of flattery. You have to execute a concept well for a business to succeed. It’s easy to copy, being original is harder but better,” he concludes.