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Self-Serve or Over the Counter

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Frosty Boy Frozen Yogurt

Frozen Dessert bars have become a popular trend in the Restaurant market and will the growth of frozen desserts continue to expand adding dessert machines is great for business. Machines for frozen yoghurt and soft serve offer a number of dessert offerings and attract more and more customers, especially with the option of self-serve. Allowing customers to serve themselves with portion sizes, flavours and toppings is a new trend sweeping the dessert market by storm and taking away the focus of over-the-counter service. There a number of pros and cons for both business strategies that are all need to be considered when thinking about going into the dessert bar market.

Self-Serve Pros

  1. Customers are in complete control of their flavour and topping selection. They customise a dessert that is strictly based off their flavour palate which leads them to be happy with their serve. A happy customer makes for a loyal customer.
  2. Price is determined by the weight of each serve, leaving customers in complete control over the size of their serve.
  3. Toppings create a heavier serve, especially popular topping offerings such as biscuit pieces and chocolate bars. The more toppings customers have, the heavier their serve generating a larger serving price.
  4. Average customer flow is higher than over the counter due to the appeal of making a dessert based of their tastes.
  5. Less outgoing costs are required. Self-service machines need less staff to help run meaning less wages.


Self-Serve Cons
  1. Requires more machines to keep a smooth customer flow and reduce customer lines.
  2. There is a need for a larger shop space to house the machines and also offer table and chairs for customers to enjoy their dessert.
  3. Customer flow can be stalled with customers being indecisive. Slow and hogging machines with popular flavours.
  4. Risk of machines being mistreated and broken which will require repair costs.
  5. Constant supervision over stock levels of product in the machine and toppings. If a machine has run out of flavour it needs to be re-filled immediately to avoid customer dissatisfaction. With over the counter you can just remove that flavour option. 
  6. More mess to clean up with toppings being spilt and customers missing their cup with product. Less control of the mess made.


Over-the-Counter pros

  1. Machines will have less wear & tear as well as less risk of repairs being needed because staff operating them will have more experience.
  2. Set prices in accordance to the portion size and greater control of profit with staff making dessert. Also results in less wastage of product.
  3. There is greater menu flexibility with offerings of sundaes, smoothies and gourmet desserts rather than sticking to serving cups and cones with a self-serve bar.
  4. Complete control over flavour offerings and variation – instead of offering a wide range continuously, over-the-counter bars can rotate flavours around creating interest from customer for specials such as ‘flavour of the week.’


Over-the-Counter Cons
  1. Slow customer flow with ordering and preparing the desserts. Customers who are indecisive may cause other customers to leave for the wait is too long.
  2. More staff is required to man the machines as well as cash register, which result in a large amount of money made going towards wages.
  3. Average profit from each purchase is typically less than self-serve because of the set portion sizes and price.
  4. Not as modern as self-serve bars. Self-service has become a he trend in the dessert market and more often sell an environment along with the dessert, providing a chill place to sit an enjoy. Over-the-counter bars are considered ‘dated.’
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