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Things to Consider Before Opening an Ice Cream Shop

by Olufisayo
Opening an Ice Cream Shop

There’s no other frozen treat that’s more universally loved than ice cream. The cool, smooth cream and exciting flavours are especially loved for offering relief from the summer heat, but real ice cream lovers know that it’s good for all seasons.

For the entrepreneurial spirit, it’s also one of the most attractive and futureproof business ventures — so much that the ice cream industry has grown to $11 billion. With countless flavours and exciting new fusions, it only takes one scoop to delight taste buds and bring a smile to anyone’s face.

Opening an Ice Cream Shop

Tips for Opening an Ice Cream Business

Are you an ice cream lover? Whether it’s of the classic chocolate, vanilla, cookies and cream, and rocky road variety, or you’re constantly dreaming of new flavours to add to these well-loved frozen treats, there’s always room in the ever-growing ice cream industry for you.

With a bit of capital, a tried-and-tested flavour profile, the right equipment, and business savvy can help you share your love of ice cream and turn it into a real money-maker. Here’s how:

Create a Business Plan

Like any business, starting an ice cream shop requires a solid business plan. Start by creating a document that outlines what your business is: what type of ice cream are you serving? Are you making these treats yourself? Who would you sell them to, and where? How much will each pint or tub cost to make — and how much can you earn?

Ask yourself these questions and map out these factors early on to design a business plan. Acting as a blueprint, a business plan tells you everything you need to do to sell and turn a profit on every cone, pint, or tub, the cost of doing so, and how much you will need to make in order to recoup your initial investment and grow further.

Discover Earning Potential

It’s not an $11 billion-dollar industry if it wasn’t competitive — and that’s why it’s important to identify early on what sets your ice cream apart. Maybe it’s an exciting new flavour, or the appeal to everyone’s need for classic comfort food. Whatever your unique offer is, capitalize on it early on through: advertise it as a core offering, and tailor promotions according to your target market.

Rather than attempting to capture the entire market — and inevitably wasting capital — identifying your niche early on allows you to generate demand for a new entrant into an already saturated and highly competitive market.

Set a Budget

How much capital do you have — or need to have to set up an ice cream business? The truth is, there isn’t a single benchmark figure. Rather, your budget depends on how big or small you want to start, and the production costs involved in each scenario.

Check how much capital you have and how each dollar is allocated between rent, kitchen, and store equipment like commercial display freezers, inventory, marketing, labour, and other related expenses. Based on these, you can determine how much to price your products to earn a profit, maintain steady cash flow, and ensure the overall financial health of your investment.

Decide on Flavours and Other Frozen Treats to Offer

What delicious flavours are you selling? Whether you’re curating an ice cream menu filled with classic comforts of the chocolate and vanilla variety, or you want to push the boundaries of what is ice cream with delightful, out-of-the-box fusions for the adventurous palate, you need to decide on core products early on.

Know what you will sell: the type of ice cream and ingredients, serving sizes, and required packaging. As well, for sit-down ice cream shops, you may decide to offer a variety of toppings and even related treats like milkshakes and other frozen desserts. Whatever your core offering is, make sure to build your ice cream business around it — and set yourself apart from direct competitors operating in the same area and targeting the same consumer base.

Each of these offerings has an associated production cost in terms of supplies and required equipment ranging from mixers and soft serve machines to commercial display freezers and revenue potential with the right marketing and consistent flavour profile. Keep track of the flow of expenses and revenue to learn how you can best recoup your initial investment in the shortest time possible, and unlock opportunities for future growth.

Choose a Location

Ice cream is a universally loved treat, so there’s definitely a market for this delicious treat wherever you are. But that also means certain neighbourhoods may already be saturated with ice cream shops and products, and you have better chances of capturing a different local market.

As well, consider your business model — are you opening a sit-down ice cream shop, a truck, or retailing “grab-and-go” pints and tubs displayed in a commercial display freezer at local grocery stores? Consider both your location and business model to ensure a good fit with maximum revenue potential.

An ice cream truck parked in popular parks, sporting events, and other high-traffic locations would rake in sales in the summer, while classic flavours are always popular in grocery stores, and specialty fusions are best savoured through a carefully curated experience in a niche, cafe-style shop.

Ice Cream Equipment: From Machines to Commercial Display Freezers

The recipe for success in the ice cream business is simple: use the right tools and kitchen equipment, and stock up on flavourful ingredients to delight with every scoop. What type of mixers, machines, and coolers or freezers are you using to whip up these treats and store them properly for fresh, quality taste?

From mixers and machines to refrigerators and commercial display freezers, every ice cream business needs the right tools to make, store, and sell their signature frozen treats. The entire customer journey from hook to the sale starts with seeing: how are your products displayed? Are they clearly visible in their attractive packaging behind glass panes?

Commercial display freezers guarantee maximum visual impact and optimal storage — tubs and pints sit behind clear glass panes, where they’re illuminated by bright, high-contrast, but energy-efficient LED lights. Commercial display freezers allow you to curate the customer experience thanks to prime product placements that capture customer attention and increase revenue.

Promote Your Ice Cream Business

Every business is just as good as the customer reviews and continued support that can vouch for it. Don’t miss any opportunity to promote your ice cream business. Whether it’s through a consistent social media content calendar, regular promotions, or customer referral programs, you need to constantly generate buzz about your newest flavours, and incentivize customers to share their experience.

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