Kona Ice franchisees Jeff and Jennifer Berryhill estimate that 70 percent of their sales come from events where a portion of the proceeds are donated.
When Jeff and Jennifer Berryhill first noticed Kona Ice, it wasn’t in a franchise directory or online ad. It was at their son’s lacrosse tournament — a brightly-colored, can’t-miss Kona Ice truck was serving up shaved ice to families looking for a cool treat to accompany an afternoon of sports. But while they were noticing the popularity of the Kona Ice brand among its many customers, it was the Kentucky-based company’s emphasis on giving back that ultimately drove the Berryhill’s to purchase a truck of their own. By the end of their first season as Kona Ice franchisees in the Ann Arbor area, the Berryhill’s had donated nearly $15,000 to local organizations and charities.
To learn a bit more about the couple’s community involvement, 1851 spoke with Jeff Berryhill about their dedication to giving back and how it’s helped shape their Kona Ice business into a fan-favorite among community and youth sporting events in the area.
1851: How important is it to give back to your local community as it relates to growing your business?
Berryhill: I think it's a key element to growing our business. When people benefit from it or see others who benefit from it, they are much more likely to do business with you or refer others to you.
1851: What local or charitable outreach efforts have you made in order to connect with your local community?
Berryhill: We adopted a local classroom through Adopt-A-Classroom.org. We were able to fund a field trip and the teacher bought math toolkits for the kids. This is just something in addition to the fundraising we do as a normal part of our business.
1851: What are your top ideas or tips to market your local business?
Berryhill: I think social media is a key component. We maintain a Facebook page that allows us to communicate with customers and to let them know where we'll be. With Kona Ice, our trucks are a great marketing tool too, so just having them out in the community gives us a great presence. We also utilize constant contact to send out marketing emails twice per month to remind customers about Kona Ice.
1851: How effective are charitable efforts in growing your business?
Berryhill: I would guess that close to 70 percent of our sales are from events where we give back a percentage of those sales. Once people see how easy it is compared to other fundraising activities, they are eager to have us back, which helps us promote our business.
1851: What advice would you give to other franchisees who are just starting their businesses to best set themselves up for success on the local level?
Berryhill: I would encourage them to connect with the community in as many ways as possible. Join the Chamber of Commerce. Participate in community events. Connect with the leaders of various organizations in the community and maintain a relationship with them. Most importantly, you need to provide great service and be accountable.