Tony Lamb’s bad experience at an ice cream truck became a catalyst for one of the most successful modern franchises.
Eight years ago, Lamb’s 3-year-old daughter ran outside when she heard the ice cream truck outside their Boone County, Kentucky home. .
“The truck had smoke coming out of it, and the driver wasn’t even wearing a shirt, then my daughter’s ice cream was freezer burned” Lamb told Business Insider. “I thought, ‘what if there were a business that guaranteed a good experience at the ice cream truck?'”
The experience inspired Lamb, who previously had a marketing background, and his wife Susie to start one of the most successful franchises in America: Kona Ice.
The shaved ice company now has more than 700 franchises. Entrepreneur named Kona Ice the fastest-growing franchise in 2013.
Lamb says the secret to his success is offering an elevated experience from the traditional ice cream truck.
“Everyone is trying to sell pizzas and burgers,” Lamb said. “I thought it made more sense to go into a territory where there weren’t many competitors.”
The company started off requiring owners to also operate their businesses. This meant franchisees were more invested in the success of the business.
“I’ve had offers from people to buy a bunch of trucks, but I fear the quality would suffer,” Lamb said. “To me it’s not about the money — I want the customer service and quality to be great.”
Kona Ice also performs extensive background checks on workers with hopes of creating a different customer experience.
The brand says it is more health-conscious than regular ice cream trucks.
The syrups the company uses are made with low-calorie natural sweetener stevia. It also adds vitamins to its syrup and boasts it is organic, gluten-free, and made without genetically-modified organisms.
Because Kona Ice serves a low-calorie product, it is allowed to go to schools and sell to students at lunch.
Lamb says Kona Ice has displaced the ramshackle ice cream trucks in communities.
“We’re always going to be about offering the best customer service and experience,” Lamb said. “I’m proud we’ve done that in this industry.”
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