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A story of Doug, Geoff and Lisa, three owners of a local Sweet FROG Premium Frozen Yogurt franchise in Clemmons NC.
Frozen yogurt is becoming more of a mission than it is a tasty treat for three owners of a local Sweet FROG premium frozen yogurt in Clemmons NC.
Children laughing and the blending of generations are just a few of the sights and sounds you will experience when you visit this local “hang out.”
What started out as a friendship in 2001 became a story of three individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for serving God on a journey to seek out a way to blend business with ministry.
According to founder Derek Cha, “Sweet FROG was founded in the principles of Christianity and our belief in bringing happiness and a positive attitude into the lives of our consumers. At Sweet FROG, F.R.O.G. stands for Fully Rely on God and we hope to be an example of that in every community!”
As Geoff, states “I realized that while working for corporate America, sharing my faith is something that is often times frowned upon and it forced me to ask myself “Looking back after 20 years is this the story I want to live? Will my story be all about what position I made it to or how high I climbed the corporate ladder? That is not the story I want to be telling”
Little did they know when starting this franchise and fulfilling on their mission, how much their lives would change, but more importantly, how others lives would be affected.
They reflected on a story of a small young boy that came into their store with his mother for the first time and as the little boy gazed upon all the selections of flavors and toppings they became overjoyed when they found a flavor that was dairy free. This young boy was lactose intolerant and this is the first place that the mother has found to accommodate him. ‘Now he can finally have an opportunity to go out with his buddies and enjoy ice cream with them,” says the mom with tears in her eyes.
“It is moments like these that make it all worth it,” states Doug, Geoff’s partner. “We will never get rid of that flavor, even if it is for just that one boy that gets the opportunity to hang out with his buddies,” adds Geoff.
Doug goes on to say “To know that it is “safe” and we are giving back to the community means more than any financial gain.”
Sweet Frog is a very successful franchise and is expanding rapidly, however these owners in particular, are really making their mark. With their first store opening in March, 2012 , they found themselves flooded with over a thousand customers a night on weekends putting themselves in the top 10 finishes for a first month open in the entire company. They have also found themselves with quite a community following as they see their facebook family soar to more than 600 in less than a month. “When you show your support for others, it is amazing how much support they give back,” states Geoff, thanking the community for such a strong start. Which led me to ask ,“What is it that is making you so successful?”
Faith: Truly understanding what it means to Fully Rely On God and know that you are no longer in business for yourself but for God. God is at the foundation of this business, there is scriptures written all over the foundation, dry wall and beams before they completed the build out. “Creating an atmosphere that makes everyone feel ,even those that are not Christians, welcome and safe is one of our number one goals.”
Understanding, Believing and reflecting your company’s vision and values: “By putting up Fully Rely On God on your walls you can’t take anything for granted, from the music you choose , your attitude, the way you treat each other and the way you treat your vendors and customers. Everyone has to be on point and be able to reflect what it is we stand for,” says Geoff. I think that this would apply to any business, once you let your values be known by your employees and your customers, your actions are held to a higher standard than just performing a job or task. It becomes a way of being that characterizes everything you are about. This is how great company cultures get started.
Giving back to the community: Against the wishes of some, this dynamic trio put right into their operational budget, that they would take a percentage right off the top of their profitability to donate to local charities, churches or community organizations. Monday through Thursday they host fundraisers for local community organizations and charities in which a percentage of the proceeds will go back to that organization. They also sponsor or donate to the Challenger Baseball League, which is a division of the little league that enables boys and girls with physical disabilities to enjoy the game of baseball. “Being able to bless others by walking up to someone and handing them a check without them knowing it is coming, is a feeling like no other,” states Doug.
Now owning your own business is not easy, it requires a leap of faith, patience and for these guys a full gas tank. They believed in this mission so fully and completely that they were willing to purchase the closest franchise to where they lived which was 3.5 hours away. When asked if they had any advice for other business owners that are looking to follow their dreams they had this to say:
Doug: “When it comes to your customers, remember it is an experience not a transaction.”
Geoff: “The 5 P’s ,Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance-being able to stay ahead of things so that you are not constantly reacting”
Doug: “Take time to make sure that you are truly hearing God’s voice and you are not just listening to your own voice.”
Geoff: “Anytime that you try to take care of things by yourself things get a lot harder”
Doug: “Don’t go into partnerships with someone that is unevenly yoked with you. Make sure they have the same values and vision that you have. There is enough normal stress in a business that you don’t need to add bad business relationships to the mix.”
Doug: “Always look at others strengths because we all have weaknesses.”
Geoff: ”This is a fun way to make money when you see other people enjoying your business as much as you do”
As for what is next with this mission driven team, they will be opening more locations in the Winston Salem and Statesville North Caroline areas and then expanding into Florida.
It is evident after seeing their great success, that when it comes to following your mission, God will move mountains, or maybe in this case frozen yogurt.
We have all heard the saying “the first step is always the hardest” Well its true, it is emotionally exhausting and quite frankly overwhelming. Planning for a 30-day trip that is not supposed to have any plans seems so easy right? You plan to have no plans-how refreshing and cool is that! Well at least everyone we talk to seems to thinks so. And so did I until it came time to actually doing it. We started the first part of our journey not far from home, in Charlottesville Va, where we celebrated our five year anniversary and Monday was our official first day of our adventure across country. What do you mean we have no plans? We obviously can’t just get in the car and expect the car to know where to go. What do you mean we have to check out in 30 minutes, I am not done writing and I am not even close to being ready? Where are we going in such a hurry anyways? How much longer until we decide what our plans are going to be? ………….This was my first step in letting go of the wheel and letting God take control. I would say that I stumbled a little, OK I fell flat on my face.
Apparently I had packed up my box again and brought it along with me-no wonder it seemed like our luggage grew when we packed the car back up to start our trip. What am I carrying around that is so darn heavy? Oh, it is control, hmmm I thought I gave that up a long time ago, how did I get that back?
I must have spotted fear around somewhere so I must have grabbed control to protect me. Interesting. Isn’t that the way we all are in life. Whenever we sense fear we grab hold of control as if it was our whip that we use to tame a wild animal. But when we become the tamer of wild animals, we often find ourselves living in a circus. We are always putting on a show for other people, always having to predict outcomes before they happen and praying that things go exactly as we planned because if they don’t the outcome may not be a pleasant one. We always have to be at our best and always on guard. How exhausting. Some people may thrive on that but not me. Many of us fool ourselves into believing that by having more control we will have more peace. That is just a story we tell ourselves to overcome our weakness to fear. In fact I am starting to think that trying to maintain control is more stressful than confronting whatever fear I may have. I wish I had a “how to” guide on how to give up control and let go of the wheel, trusting that everything will work out for the better , but I don’t. All I know is that the more I control the less opportunities I have to enjoy life and a moment lost that wasn’t lived is a moment that I can never get back. It is through faith that I am going to embrace fear and learn from it rather than run from it. So long my old friend control and hello to my new friend-the unknown.
The Beginning of our Journey
This journey that my husband and I are about to take all began with one question “Are we really making as big of a difference as we want to make?” This is a question that many of us ponder from time to time as we sift through the noise of our everyday lives. For some the thought is just passing as we move on to the next “phase” of what our life should look like and for others it will stop you in your tracks, like it did us. It was Easter weekend and we were heading to PA to visit Jim’s family. We had gotten news that Jim’s mother was in the hospital and was undergoing a lot of tests so we thought that it would be nice to surprise her with a visit. She did not know that we were coming. As we pulled into the parking lot Jim’s brother was anxiously waiting for us. As we got out of the car to stretch from our 7.5 hour drive we received the news that Jim’s mother has cancer. It wasn’t until we walked into her hospital room, seeing the look of surprise and joy on his mother’s face that the tears started to fall. This was the first time since getting the news that his mother cried. It is moments like this in life that you look at your loved ones and ask yourself, “Do they know how much of a difference they have made in my life?”
Unfortunately, it is these kinds of moments that jar you out of your normal patterns of living and have you start thinking about the true meaning of life and what is really important. Some call this Self Actualization; I call it a wakeup call. Life is not about us and the accomplishments that we have made, the approval of others that we have gained or the number of friends that we have on Facebook. Life is about living in the present and being present. Life is meant to be lived. It is meant to be lived without fear and without the limitations that we so often place on it. Now I know that there are some control freaks (I mean that in the nicest possible way) out there that are starting to get a little uncomfortable right now, all I ask is that you keep an open mind to what is being said.
I like to use the “box” analogy when I try to explain what I mean when I talk about living a life without the limitations that we place on it. When discussing this analogy with our good friend Mary, she brought up a good point. We are taught at an early age that we shouldn’t do what we want to do, we should do what is expected of us and that is called discipline. This discipline is what shapes how we live or the box that we live in. As we transcend into adulthood we think we have our life all figured out. We should go to college, get a good job, get married, buy a house and have 2.5 kids. It will be different for everyone but you get the point. We set these as goals for how our life should look and we use these as measurements to our success therefore creating the “box” in which we live. So we start out with our perfect little box and carry in it only the things that we find important, things that we value and give us true happiness. Some might carry with them valued friendships and time with family, while others may carry with them volunteer work and memories of good deeds. As we go through life we start collecting more and more things that we carry in our box, the pressures of making good grades, seeking acceptance from our peers or parents, finding the “right person” , finding the right job and so on and so on, leaving us with all this “baggage” to carry around. Rather than thinking about how to get rid of the baggage we try to figure out how to carry it smarter and more efficiently so we decide to get a bigger box and create the next “phase” of our lives. We dump all that baggage into the new box and notice that it seems easier because we have more room now, we have expanded our horizons and don’t feel so confined and off we go. This continues to repeat itself continually until we realize we no longer have any more room (meaning no other plans that we can control) and we no longer have the strength to carry our own box. But what is even more noteworthy is that what we value the most in life, things that give us true happiness, is at the bottom of this huge box that we have created. They are buried under all the crap that we have been carrying or is often misplaced and taken for granted as we try to keep up with all the stuff that we are trying to manage. For business owners this is particularly true. You start off with a vision and as you go along that vision starts to get diminished as all the other priorities start to weigh you down.
I say it is time to start taking inventory of what’s in our boxes. What is it that is weighing you down and try to get to those things that bring you life and discard everything else. In fact I say the hell with the box, just dump it all out and get rid of the box all together or for those that are reading this really freaked out, start to let down one wall of your box at a time. For many of us the biggest wall we have to take down is the wall of fear. They are comfortable inside their box because at least they have some control. Fear comes only from those thoughts about an uncertain future that we can’t control. I once heard that fear is controlled by a “What if” followed by a negative statement. “What if this doesn’t work out?” I encourage you to try stating a “What if” followed by a positive and see how you feel. “What if this is the best thing that ever happened to me?”
I write this as if it sounds easy, but trust me it is not, I am still taking inventory of my own self imposed box that I was carrying. I am still breaking down my walls and occasionally finding myself scrambling to put it back up. But one thing that I know for sure, that I can trust in, is that even as uncomfortable as this is, it will absolutely allow me to live a more fulfilled life. I am sifting through all the crap that I have been carrying searching for those things that bring me life and with each one that I find new doors of opportunity open. Don’t focus on the things that your mind can carry, focus only on the things that your heart can carry.
These are stories of everyday business owners like you and me who have found themselves in a life altering crossroads where they have to ask themselves “should I stay on the path that I am heading and be satisfied or should I journey on the path of my heart and be fulfilled?”
They have overcome their own self-limiting beliefs and doubts while challenging those that said that it couldn’t be done. They don’t allow competition to define them, but define themselves through their values and beliefs. They never compromise their values and beliefs for the sake of profit and are willing to innovate and take risk beyond what others think is possible in order to better serve the communities in which they live. These are stories of great courage, triumph and dedication of people that believe in a mission and are doing something about it! They are putting their WHY to Work.
We are taking a journey across the United States to seek out these companies and create this blog to share their stories with the world in hopes to promote their cause and inspire others to discover their own purpose and mission and put their own WHY to work. We believe that everyone has God given talents and a purpose and that business owners use owning a business to bring their talents and their cause to life.
We hope that you find these stories enjoyable and inspring. Feel free to make comments on what you think about the stories, how they inspired you or to share your own story of how you are putting your WHY to work. Please help us share these stories with the world by passing it along to a friend.
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