Marble Slab Creamery
Marble Slab Creamery provides the highest level of customer service and finest quality of ice cream, personalized for each customer on its iconic frozen marble slab. The franchise originally started in Texas in 1983, and Cam Inglis, entrepreneur and President of Marble Slab Creamery, brought the “frozen slab ice cream” concept to Canada in 2003. Little more than a decade later, Marble Slab Creamery expanded from its Canadian home base of Alberta from coast to coast with some 80 locations and expects additional growth.
The franchise grew at this speed because franchisees recognized Marble Slab as a unique offering in a growing category, and The Canadian Business Journal spoke with Cam Inglis, and Kimberly Hughes, Marketing Manager, about the Marble Slab Creamery and its competitive edge in the Canadian market. “People recognized that it was a fun business with a lot of space in the specialty treats category in terms of competition being significantly different than us. So we had a lot of interest from potential franchisees to bring Marble Slab ice cream to their local neighborhood,” says Inglis.
The Marble Slab difference is based on the quality ingredients and customer experience. The experience starts with the product, and all Marble Slab products – ice cream, yogurt, ice cream cakes and ice cream cupcakes – are made fresh in-store with real Canadian dairy. A high level of customer service and a positive overall customer experience represent the key ingredients to success. Imagine walking through a bright, traditional yet modern shop, passing by enticing counters filled with fresh, colourful ice cream and yogurt with well over 50 flavours. You pick your ice cream, and then pick from over 30 ‘mixins’ – fruits, nuts, candies, chocolates, cookies and drizzles – adding that extra something special to your treat, all blended in front of your eyes on that legendary frozen slab, and turned into the perfect treat just for you, and then straight into the ice cream cone baked and hand-rolled in the store. Nothing left but to enjoy.
“We don’t use any additives or preservatives,” says Inglis. “We don’t pre-manufacture and ship all over the country. Freshness is an important aspect of Marble slab. Franchisees make everything fresh on site, from ice cream, waffle cones, cookie dough, cakes, and ice cream sandwiches, and it’s all prepared on the marble slab, and the customers can choose their ice cream and their mixins, and it’s all prepared in front of their eyes. We are the only ones to use fresh dairy, and offer unlimited mixins at one price.”
As an ice cream franchise in Canada, it’s easy to identify the core season, and Marble Slab continues to give customers new reasons to visit in the off-season and effectively compete in the marketplace. The company continues to raise the value of its offerings, and give customers new reasons to choose Marble Slab in the fight for the customer’s ‘treat dollar’.
In 2015, the company launched the line of Photo Cakes, with licensed images and also the option of people sending in their own photos and have them printed on the cake with messages. The company also launched an incredibly successful line of ice cream sandwiches, and is only weeks away from launching its ice cream crumble cake. “We think it is a fairly nostalgic product that people will be able to remember from their childhood. And we also continue to focus on our cake business. People are very passionate about cakes. There is no end to the number of different offerings we can have with cake, whether it’s flavours, colours or decorations,” says Inglis.
Besides increasing the value of the offerings, Marble Slab has a massive advantage for the 21st century – service and offering. The millennial generation expects specialty customized products made just for them, and that is exactly what Marble Slab does.
“Our concept is brilliant in that respect, because each time you come in you can have something different,” says Hughes. “It’s the new products, and new flavours, but also delivering exceptional customer experience that people are looking for. People visit the stores for rewards, treats, and shopping with the kids, so it’s really about the experience – being able to choose your own ice cream, mixins, and have fun while doing it.”
The Marble Slab business is the business of treats, birthdays, and anniversaries — the business of happiness, so the franchisees can fully enjoy the nature of the business itself. “Everyone remembers a birthday or an anniversary,” says Hughes, “and the cake is the focal point of that celebration when we sing Happy Birthday to the person, so our product is at the centre of that celebration.”
“Our franchisees enjoy being in “the happy business.” This is the kind of business where the customers generally come in when they are in a good mood, after their day, and they have the time and patience. We deal with smiling people,” concludes Inglis.