Did you know that more than six billion pounds of ice cream and frozen yogurt were made in the United States in 2019?
If you are looking for a good way to make money and spread good cheer, you should open an ice cream shop. But you shouldn’t rush your opening, as there’s much to learn before you can open your doors.
For starters, what are some concepts that can make your shop stand out? What should go into your business plan and funding efforts? What is the best location for a shop?
Answer these questions, and you can serve sundaes and cones in no time. Here is your quick guide to help you get started!
Learn How to Make the Best Ice Cream
Making ice cream is not easy. You must know how to find and combine the best ingredients. Even if you use a premium ice cream machine, you need to know how the machine works.
If you don’t have experience in ice cream production, go and work in an ice cream shop. Read the manuals of different ice cream machines so you grow familiar with them.
You must know how to prepare sundaes and other recipes besides plain ice cream. At a minimum, you want to learn how to make sauces like hot fudge. But many shops also sell cookie sandwiches, ice cream cakes, and other elaborate desserts.
Sample the desserts of a few different shops. Take notes on what you like, but think about what you can do differently to distinguish your ice cream.
Find Ice Cream Shop Concepts
Even if you are the only shop in your area, you need to do something different. You must give people a reason to spend their extra money on you and not other options like bakeries.
Many shops rely on summertime sales to stay afloat. You can even target your shop for the summer by decorating your walls with beach imagery and locating your business near a beach or swimming hole.
But you can also get a year-round ice cream shop going. In the wintertime, you will need dishes that encourage people to brave the cold. You can serve pumpkin or spicy ice cream, or you can offer special drinks.
Running an ice cream truck is a classic concept. Most serve pre-made desserts like snow cones and ice pops. But you can serve fresh ice cream if you have a lightweight machine.
Consider serving frozen custard in addition to ice cream. Frozen custard contains more egg yolks than ice cream, creating a creamier dessert. You can find a frozen custard machine at minimal expense.
Develop a Business Plan
Once you have a basic concept, you can sit down to draft a business plan. Write a description of your company, including projections of your profits over the next few years.
Write down your concept, but include a detailed menu. Give instructions for how you will prepare your sauces, sundaes, and other recipes.
Mention what kind of ownership structure you will have. You can split ownership with one or more individuals, but you should specify what each person’s role will be. At least one owner should be in the shop every day.
Detail what other staffers you will need. You should have people who are preparing and serving ice cream. Your servers may be responsible for cleaning the shop, or you may need to hire other personnel.
If you don’t have business experience, you can get business tools. Talk to a financial advisor and take advantage of free resources like educational guides.
If you have enough money saved up, you can start your shop on your own. But start-up costs can run into the six figures, so you will probably need other sources of funding.
Banks and other businesses offer loans. A well-detailed business plan that you can explain in your own words will go a long way. Schedule an appointment with a loan officer and practice what you are going to say.
If lenders are not an option, you can get venture capital. In exchange for financing, you give a portion of your equity to someone. An experienced investor can give you financial advice over time.
Crowdfunding is another option, though you need to put work into it. You can ask the public to send you payments, and you can give them discounts or prizes in return. The prizes need to be substantial in order to attract interest.
Figure Out a Location
You need to get a business license and other permits before you can open your shop. In order to receive your permits, you need to find a good location.
You should find one that is distant from other ice cream shops. It should provide enough space so you can store your ingredients and appliances. There should be room in the front for customers to wait and enjoy their food.
You can put your shop near school grounds and areas where children hang out. You should also face locations that get a lot of summertime traffic like swimming pools.
Cost is very important, especially in the fall and winter months. You should find a location with low rent and utility expenses. See if you can strike a deal to adjust your expenses during the cold seasons.
How You Can Open Your Ice Cream Shop
Running an ice cream shop is many people’s dream, but you must know how to make ice cream. Make your shop stand out, including inventive dishes.
Once you have a core concept, write your business plan. Bring it to potential investors. If you can’t find one, pursue crowdfunding.
Pick a location near people who like ice cream, such as children. Your shop should be close to popular summertime places.
Get the tools you need for the best ice cream, and you’ll be well on your way to opening up your dream ice cream shop. Lancaster Manufacturing has 20 years of experience in manufacturing machines and advising ice cream shops. Contact us today!