How to start an Ice Cream parlor

Ice cream is a delicious treat enjoyed by everyone. The sweet snack is popular and easy to make. There are hundreds of delicious flavors and recipes to tantalize our cravings and taste buds.
In my journey as an entrepreneur, ice cream retail was one of my earlier ventures. Although I have moved on, it was without a doubt the most profitable.
I had limited funds and faced serious storage and utility challenges. However the demand quickly outweighed the supply. Any business with such high demand and appreciable margins is a good venture.
The business is highly competitive and requires low startup capital. You could decide to develop your own products or retail popular brands. The business model you choose depends on your business plan and focus.
You could decide selling from a van or open a retail outlet. There are a few things to consider before starting your ice cream store.
Carry out a Survey
Carry out a survey of your immediate environment. Find out your customers interests and expectations.
The next step is to write a business plan and decide on a business model. The options include owning an ice cream truck, buying into a franchise or ice cream bike. You could sell wholesale, retail or open a sales outlet.
Other tings to consider during your research include regular source of supplies and customer demography. Find a suitable location and popular brands in your locality.
Are you going to make the ice cream yourself or leverage on branded products. These are important questions you need to address.
Write a Business Plan
Write an ice cream retail business plan and carry out a feasibility study. The business plan should focus on target audience, market research and location. Study your competitors, secure funding and structure a business model.
The Business Model
There are three basic models in the ices cream retail industry. You could buy into a franchise, sell popular products or develop your own brand.
Each business format comes with its own set of rules and challenges. Franchising requires higher capital impute than retailing popular brands. The only advantage to franchising is product support, training and brand awareness.
Starting from scratch is slightly more challenging based on logistics. However the amount you invest depends entirely on the scope and size of your business. Going mobile is another strategy used by retailers.
Related article-Starting a Doughnut Shop
Choose an Ideal Location
The location you choose will determine your success or failure. A major consideration when selecting a location is pedestrian traffic.
Popular destinations such as theme parks, shopping malls are ideal locations. Consider the cost of leasing a shop against owning a mobile vehicle.
You could also choose to go mobile and find a 'juicy' spot. School children buy lots of ice cream especially if they are popular and cheap.
Determine your Inventory
Your inventory depends on your business model. Mobile vendors need a mode of transportation such as a truck or bus.
Other transportation includes carts, trolleys, bikes and selling on foot. Stationary businesses could work from a container, store front, shop or fast food outlet.
Basic equipment includes freezers, refrigerators, frozen trucks or coolers. Others are mixers, storage shelves, ice cream maker, chairs and tables.
  • Backup generator
  • Freezers
  • Refrigerators
  • Frozen trucks
  • Coolers
  • Mixers
  • Storage
  • Shelves  
  • Ice cream maker
  • Chairs and tables
  •  Computer
  • Cash register
  • Carts
  • Trolleys
  • Bikes
  • Ice cream cones
  • Plastic spoons
  • Bowls 
Sales Demography
Popular locations that attract huge patronage include shopping malls and supermarkets. Others are residential areas, theme parks, tourist destinations and airports. More are schools, event centers, busy pedestrian streets and commercial areas.
  • Shopping malls
  • Supermarkets
  • Residential areas
  • Theme parks
  • Tourist destinations
  • Airports
  • Schools
  • Event centers
  • Busy pedestrian streets
  • Commercial areas
Permits and Licensing
There are serious rules guiding standardization and storage. The regulatory body that controls consumables, food and beverages is the health department.
Your establishment needs to pass health and safety scrutiny such as cleanliness, waste disposal and storage. You need to conform to the general food law regulation and food safety Act 1990.
You are also required to have a license to sell from a vending truck or a trade license. Obtain a federal tax identification number, insurance cover and register the enterprise as a sole proprietorship business.
You might have to join a trade association in your state or municipal. Although this is not mandatory it would be useful and productive.
You may choose to sell only ice cream or diversify. Products that work best with ice creams are carbonated drinks, cakes, cookies and biscuits. Sell only quality products alongside your delicious cones.
Hire Staff
An individual can successfully run the store alone. Hire appropriate staff as the business grows and expands. Staff requirements include sale personnel, cart/truck driver and chef.
Product Pricing
Branded products already have recommended retail prices. You make your money from sales margins per product. However if you develop you own brand determine the price based on similar brands in your locality.
An effective marketing strategy is brand awareness. Make sure your business has a memorable and catchy name.  A novel spin on traditional cone is another sales technique.
Use lots of promotional gimmicks such as discounts, community and leisure activities. Leverage on television advertisement, newspaper publications and the print media.


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