6 Steps To Become an Ice Cream Truck Business

Do you want to know where to buy a used ice cream truck? If your answer to any of the questions above is yes, then read on because this article is for you.
Now for those who are yet to understand the concept behind the ice cream truck business, an ice cream van (British) or ice cream truck (American) is a commercial vehicle which serves as a retail traveling outlet for selling ice creams, usually during the periods of summer or dry season.
Ice cream vans or trucks are always seen parked at public events, or near beaches, parks, or other areas where people normally congregate. Ice cream vans or trucks always go where children play such as schools, in residential areas, churches or in other areas. They normally stop briefly prior to moving to the next street.
Now setting up an ice cream truck business is one of the best moves you will make because of the potential that abounds in this business. Do you doubt the potential of this business? Then below are some reasons why you should invest in opening an ice cream truck business.
N.B-: This article was culled from the “Complete Guide to Starting a Food Truck Business.”

6 Reasons to Start an Ice Cream Truck Business

  • The demand for ice cream is high especially during the summer and also in countries that have a hot climate.
  • Ice cream as a product has a wide target market, as everybody take ice cream; irrespective of age, race, religious beliefs, culture, etc.
  • Ice cream is nutritious and as well a source of energy to humans; and as a result of this, people will always be in demand for it.
  • The startup capital required to establish an ice cream truck business is not much and the raw materials needed to make ice cream is readily available locally.
  • The profit margin for each ice cream you sell is high, as the raw materials needed is cheap and the ice cream production process is almost entirely automated.
  • There is no need to rent a shop or store, thus eliminating the recurring monthly rental bill. All you need is to make a one-time investment in buying a truck and branding it. You can even reduce your overhead cost by either buying a used ice cream truck or building a custom made truck.
Now that you are convinced on the profitability of the ice cream business, below is a detailed step by step approach on how to start an ice cream truck business

Starting an Ice Cream Truck Business – Sample Business Plan Template

1. How do you want to start this business?
Before even spending a dime on conducting feasibility study or writing a business plan, you need to first decide if to invest in a successful up and coming franchise, or to begin your own independent ice cream business from the scratch.
The benefit of buying an ice cream franchise from a successful company is that you will have built-in assistance to guide you through the process of starting your business. Franchises typically provide the store layout and design, ingredients, supplies and employee training.
However, they may require significant upfront capital. But starting your business from scratch gives you the freedom to determine exactly the amount of money to invest, to build a brand that carries your personal values and to grow at your own pace.
2. Conduct preliminary feasibility study
It is important you carry out feasibility research on other ice cream or mobile businesses in your area, so as to have an idea of the kind of business you are about to venture into. Studying other ice cream carts or food trucks operating within your environment will give you an insight on how best to design your truck, van or cart. It is also important you know who your target market is, and the type of ice cream that they prefer.
  • Is your target market children, adults, men, women, students, etc?
  • Do they prefer milk ice cream, strawberry, vanilla, chocolate, or yogurt, etc?
  • Will you target health enthusiasts?
You can also learn from the market statistics of your industry by visiting organizations like the National Ice Cream Retailers Association. Visit the U.S. Census Bureau website to discover local statistics concerning your target demographic, be it families, health enthusiasts or young people.
You should also research and develop a list of products that you will sell alongside your ice cream (bottled drinks, waffle cones, cookies and toppings). Carry out research on equipment cost for carts, mobile trucks, walk in coolers, condiments, walk in freezers, soft serve machines, storage shelves, tables, chairs, a soda machine, fudge warmers, tables, mixing bowls, pasteurizers (in case you want to be making your own ice cream) and ice cream dairy farmers or vendors.
3. Get the necessary license and operations permit
Contact your city health department to learn the requirements and the costs associated with obtaining a permit or a mobile permit in case you intend to operate an ice cream cart. Lighting, equipment, garbage, plumbing and ventilation requirements; insect and rodent control; and access to restrooms will be considered for a physical location.
You should also visit the advertising regulatory body and obtain a permit as your van will be displaying some information that will be considered as advertorials. If you don’t want to go through the stress of fulfilling regulatory requirements, you can hire a food business consultant to help you.
4. Choose a good location or route for your ice cream truck
You must decide and choose a location for your ice cream truck business and your expected clientele. Will you drive around your target location to your clients’ doorstep or you will simply park your truck at designated stationary places like road intersections, on the waterfront, close to dog parks or parks, plazas, busy shopping centers, schools, churches, major markets, offices and family friendly residential areas.
You have to consider car and foot traffic in addition to parking and accessibility for clients and delivery drivers. Considering the size of your business area, you may need to ensure that you have an adequate storage for ice cream, depending on the frequency of the deliveries.
5. Write a business plan
After selecting the best location, the next step is to develop a business plan for your ice cream truck business. This step is necessary especially if you intend to raise capital for the venture.
In your business plan, you must include your executive summary, location analysis, management style, market research and plan, design ideas for your mobile shop, potential locations within the city, advertising techniques, financial projections, how you intend to finance the business and the level of competition within the industry. Here’s a sample food truck business plan template you can use for FREE.
It is also important you bear in mind that your ice cream truck business will be competing against the fast food shops. After writing your business plan, you can present it to financiers and investors, beginning with your local bank.
  • Cost of starting up and running an ice cream truck business
Small startup ice cream business can be varied based on products to be sold, soft serve versus hand dipped. To open an ice cream truck business and get it running, it will require an amount of about $4,000 – $15,000. You must bear in mind that your startup investment capital will depend on the type of sales truck you intend to buy (ice cream cart or stand or mobile truck), the cost of buying a franchise (that is if you intend to buy one) and the type of ice cream products you intend to carry.
6. Purchase the necessary equipment
Now the type of equipment you buy will depend on the type of ice cream you intend to sell and the scale or level you want to start. However, you can keep cost low by buying fairly used equipment and tools. Examples of equipment you will need to start your ice cream vending business include:
  • Business cards
  • Software
  • Used ice cream truck or cart
  • Low cost ice cream dipping cabinets
  • Freezers and refrigerators
  • Shake mixers
  • Menu boards
  • Soft serve ice cream machines
  • Waffle cone bakers
  • Ice cream cake display freezers
  • “Fun foods” (popcorn, cotton candy, etc.)

Used Ice Cream Trucks for Sale – How to Buy an Ice Cream Truck

Where can i buy an ice cream truck? Where is the best place to find ice cream trucks for sale?When it comes to buying ice cream trucks, there are a lot of factors you need to consider, so as to avoid making a mistake. Without wasting your time, below is a guide to buying an ice cream truck.
a.   First talk to local ice cream trucks business owners and find out the pros and cons of buying an ice cream truck
b.  Decide on the type of truck you want to buy. What are the specifications? What facilities and features do you want to see in your ice cream truck? Will you buy a new ice cream truck or a used ice cream truck? These are some of the questions you need to answer.
c.  Do a search for used ice cream trucks for sale on Craigslist and online auto websites.
d.  Repeat the search on eBay or Amazon Autos.
e.  Contact local ice cream truck vendors and see the type of trucks they have
f.  Make sure the trucks you intend buying whether on eBay, Craigslist or the local vendor meets your desired specification.
g.  Test drive the ice cream truck. If possible, go with an auto mechanic and have him check the engine and other parts.
h.   If you don’t find an ice cream truck that meets your specification, then you should consider buying a used van and converting in into an ice cream truck. A metal fabricator or welder can get the job done. You can also use light wood or PVC to construct the body of the ice cream truck.

4 Challenges of starting an ice cream truck business

Every business or industry has its unique problems or challenges that you must face. As an entrepreneur, it is your duty to identify these challenges and strategize on how best to tackle them. Now with respect to the ice cream truck business, below are some possible challenges you are expected to face.
a. It can be capital intensive
Establishing ice cream business can be capital intensive, depending on your location and the availability of an ice cream truck within your reach. Sometimes, most people have to import an ice cream truck or ship it from another state.
b. It is a seasonal business
Ice creams sell more during the summer and hot weather conditions. However, sales can reduce drastically during the winter or rainy season. Also, the ice cream business may not thrive in areas that are cold throughout the year.
c. It requires technical know how
Establishing an ice cream business requires a lot of technical experiences in order to be able to manage and control the affairs of the business. To effectively run this business, you need to know how to drive a truck, make ice creams, balance your books, etc.
d. It is dependent on electrical power supply
This challenge is more experienced by ice cream truck owners operating in countries with erratic power supply. Since you are dealing on products that must be frozen at all times, you will need to equip your van or truck with power generators for your freezers; and freezers consume fuel or gas very fast. Thus, increasing your operation cost.
A good way to tackle this challenge is to secure a spot where you can park your truck and connect to an electrical source. This will help reduce the gasoline consumption of your truck as the freezers won’t depend on the truck for power supply.

10 Marketing ideas in ice cream truck business.

  • Don’t just sell your ice creams, get to know your customers or their kids and build a relationship with them. Getting a food truck marketing plan will help you achieve this.
  • Choose a unique business name for your ice cream truck and make sure your truck is well designed and branded.
  • Position your ice cream truck in high traffic areas.
  • Encourage your customers to talk about your business and refer you to their friends
  • Put your business on the web and connect with your community on social media
  • Attend community events and sponsor local sport clubs, if there is any.
  • Ask your customers for suggestions on how to improve your business and serve them better.
  • Maintain a unique route daily and make sure your route and timing is predictable by your customers
  • Ask, research and find out events that will take place within your environment and take your truck there
  • Deliver quality products and offer quality services

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