Frozen treat chain Bruster's Real Ice Cream is debuting a new, five-point strategy to reignite growth and attract new franchisees. Introduced at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago last weekend, the revitalization plan includes a new, four-seasons sales approach with new products, a new building design and the introduction of "treat theater" exhibition-style service.

Bruster's, which turns 25 next year, also has revamped its business and franchise model, reducing investment and operational costs.

"Bruster's was one of the early premium treat players, and consumers continue to love our ice cream and other specialties," said CEO Jim Sahene. "But we need to evolve the concept to make it more relevant to today's consumers and challenging economic environment."

A representative for the chain told QSRweb at the NRA Show that one impetus behind this strategy is an increased focus on frozen treats from non-ice cream concepts, such as Burger King with its new soft serve platform, as well as the saturation of frozen yogurt brands.

The leadership team of the 200-unit Bruster's spent two years studying every aspect of its business and the frozen treat segment, using guest research, franchisee input and market analysis to develop the new strategy.

"Bruster's historically has been a spring-summer destination," Sahene added. "Adding units with indoor seating, expanding into non-traditional locations and offering a wider array of products will create opportunities for guests to enjoy Bruster's year-round and on more occasions."

New products and flavors, such as meal replacements and snacks, including fresh fruit smoothies with protein powder, as well as regular and Greek soft-serve yogurts, are in development. They will be served in an entertaining "treat theater" and a colorful new environment. Guests will also be able to enjoy more ways to personalize their treats.

The move from large, stand-alone buildings to new, smaller in-line units will drop development costs from $1 million to $250,000. Savings and profitability also will be achieved through streamlined operations, more sophisticated site modeling, better training and more local marketing support.

Bruster's expects to add both domestic and international locations, including units in shopping centers, race tracks, airports and other nontraditional sites. The chain also is developing a franchisee referral and incentive program to be introduced this summer, with the goal of adding shops in current U.S. markets and Western states. International markets being targeted include South Korea and Saudi Arabia.

Watch below to hear directly from Sahene.

Read more about marketing and branding efforts.

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