What Is an Ice Cream Cart Business, and How Does It Work?
Did you know the ice cream industry produces more than 870 million gallons of ice cream every year? Looking at that insane figure you can’t help but wonder how on Earth an ice cart business works, hmm! (?)
Well, here’s a step-by-step guide for all you people contemplating starting an ice cream cart business:
- Before you hit the ground running, sort all the legal matters.
- After that, research the ideal locations you will move your ice cream cart.
- Do research on your competition, and how you can beat them.
- Next, plan your budget and how you want to bring sales.
- This is where things get interesting: you get to do your business’ branding.
- Finally, decide all the products you want to sell, and you’re good to go!
One of the easiest ways you can find ice cream is at ice cream trucks. These carts are inconveniently placed all across different parts of a town and anytime you feel like grabbing an ice lolly or two, you can easily find a cart that sells it.
This is why owning an ice cream cart is probably the most viable business option out there. It’s simple, it’s doable and it’s guaranteed to have a good ROI.
» I have covered more on this subject in this blog post: $5000 Per Month? Here’s How Much Ice Cream Trucks Make!
Before we delve into the details, let’s get some basics straight.
What Is an Ice Cream Cart?
An ice cream cart is a non-motorized vehicle run on wheels that sells ice cream as a retail outlet. It moves from corner to corner in different parts of a town to sell ice cream to a variety of buyers.
The cart can either sell popsicles, sorbet, or any sort of packaged ice cream as well.
These carts have been around forever and while some are solely for selling a specific company’s ice cream, most carts also sell personalized and homemade icy treats.
Who Invented the Ice Cream Cart?
When you look into the history of ice cream carts, the first known ice cream cart is credited to Harry Burt who belonged to a small town, Youngston in Ohio. He was the creator of the brand, Good Humor.
Burt was already selling ice cream from a motorized vehicle when an idea struck him that he should now sell chocolate-covered ice cream on a stick.
This idea was revolutionary and it turned out to be a game changer for him, his business, and the overall ice cream industry.
It won’t be wrong to say that Burt accidentally discovered the idea of an ice cream cart by making chocolate-covered ice cream.
3 Things To Consider Before You Start Your Ice Cream Business
As with any small-scale business you’re bound to face some unknown factors which could affect your business.
Since start-ups aren’t all black and white, you may never know when an obstacle may cause you more trouble than others. Take legalities for example; they’re more likely to cause hurdles as compared to other factors.
While these are taken into consideration, seasonal factors should also be discussed. If your area has a lot of windy and wet days, then having a cart can be difficult.
Here’s a list of all that you need to take care of when starting an ice cream gig:
#1 Sort Legal Matters
Before you venture into the cart game, you must look through your country’s street vending regulations. Every country has a different law and you must know yours, so you can easily meet them.
Usually, these legal requirements include what and where you’re allowed to sell, plus, they also determine your cart’s equipment. This can include storage for hot and cold items as well as sanitary regulations.
A better way to make sure you’ve got all you need before calling in for an inspection would be to call your local health ministry or related office and ask for their rule of requirements addressing the following points:
- Vending regulations in your area
- The style of product you plan on selling and its associated storage arrangements
- Hygiene policies
- Size, equipment, and other items on your cart
- Food handling course requirement
Once you’ve got a clear answer to these, you can start sculpting your cart to be the best version.
#2 Research Target Locations
Next up, you should evaluate the best places to place your cart at. Of course, not every location will get you the prime results, and hence, you should focus more on locating in a place that gives you the max revenue.
Now to get the best location, you should start by making a list of places: these could be at parks, in busy streets, or even near schools. Your list should comprise every location families and kids frequently visit.
Once that’s done, highlight ones that aren’t as saturated, have more scope, and aren’t banned for vending. With this, you now have a short list of all places you can potentially set your cart at!
#3 Research Competition
If this is your first business endeavor then you should research your competition as well. Entering such a lucrative industry can be intimidating.
So, what better way to ease yourself than having good insight into your rival carts? Sizing up your competitors can help you plan your business model in hopes of making it better.
An effective way to do this would be by going over to each cart and observing the following:
- The cart owner’s persona
- What they’re doing right
- Their flaws
- Their marketing strategy
- What most customers opt for
- The sort of ice cream they’re selling and the add-ons they’ve included
By doing so, you’ll let yourself get a real-life example of a working ice cream cart which can then help you model your cart to be flawless.
These little pieces of information can save you from the trial and error process taking you straight to the expert position.
4 Ways to Create Your Foolproof Ice Cream Cart Business Plan
After you’ve planned out how you’re supposed to open an ice cream cart, you should also be equally prepared for setting a foolproof business plan.
Businesses aren’t made overnight and for something to last long-term, you need to put ample planning into it. Your business plan should have budget lines, sales strategy, branding, and other essentials.
A perfect business plan includes these points:
#1 Budget Guides
Starting with the most crucial point: setting out a budget. It can shape almost 70% of your business plan. This gets the ball rolling on how much you should prioritize certain aspects and then you can move accordingly.
Essentially, your budget should contain guides for the following expenses:
- Legal permits and licensing costs
- Vending cart price
- Stock cost
- Initial operational cost
These are the 5 crucial points you must cover at all costs.
#2 Sales Strategy
Initially, when your cart is now in the streets, not many people may be willing to try it out. This is where you need to up your sales strategy.
» Maybe this also could be of interest to you: Money on Ice: Here’s the Markup on Ice Cream (trucks)
Generating traction towards your shop can be done by throwing discounts so locals are tempted to check your cart out.
You can also position yourself in public event areas like festivals so people notice you and are convinced to buy from you.
This can slowly build consumer trust and the next time they see you in your designated spot, they’ll be sure to try you out!
Branding is almost as necessary as everything else on this list. Creating a catchy name that is both quirky and clever can sometimes be the sole reason why people try your cart out.
This along with a catchphrase and a perfectly curated social media account can seal the deal. By doing all these, you’re developing a sense of personality in your cart.
This will be what distinguishes your cart from big shops and creates the necessary hype you want around your cart.
#4 Decide What You Want to Sell
Although the name is an ice cream cart; there is a lot of stuff you can sell: popsicles, frozen yogurt, and soft serve are just a few examples.
For extra efficiency, you cannot sell every frozen treat. Therefore, you must jot down the basic inventory you plan on keeping. Remember to always have a specialty item on your menu.
It adds personalization to your cart and attracts people into trying your product. By adding specialty items you can create loyal customers which keep coming back for it only.
Wrapping Up the Ice Cream Cart Business
I have covered all the aspects you need to know about ice cream carts.
Quirky niche businesses are seemingly easy to work but when you dive neck deep into them, there’s more to them than what meets the eye.
From complicated legal issues, permits, and location crises, an ice cream cart has much depth to it. This is why it’s best to tackle every situation one step at a time. Start with a business model and slowly progress into other factors.
Eventually, you’ll have a perfectly set cart ready to sell some scrumptious ice creams and create lifelong customers. As long as you keep your quality in check, you can ensure prosperity for your ice cream cart!