10 things to know before opening an ice cream store
For some people, there’s nothing more satisfying than a sweet, creamy, frozen treat. As someone who appreciates ice cream, what better to do with your career than create build your own ice cream store?
Think about the possibilities. If you pick the right part of town with tons of foot traffic, you could be serving smiling face after smiling face. Not only will you be spreading joy (as ice cream often does), but you’ll also have a ton of potential for making bank.
However, before you dive into the ice cream business head first, there are logistical considerations to think about. We’ve taken the liberty to address them for you. Keep reading for everything you need to know before opening a small business.
1. Your Local Competition
First, you need to do a little research into the industry you’re getting into. Check out the local competition. Your local competition will be other dessert shops, such as:
• Ice cream stores
• Cupcake stores
Who are your biggest competitors? What are they doing well? Where are they located?
The last thing you want to do start a business in an oversaturated market. You see this a lot with gyms and fitness centers. If you live in a small town and there are already dozens of ice cream stores, you may want to consider changing your location.
2. Your Niche in the Industry
Once you have a good idea of what your local competition looks like, you have a decision to make. What will be your niche in the industry?
Your niche will help your ice cream store stand out from the crowd. How will you make your business unique, different, or better than your competitors?
For example, you could offer a wide variety of dairy-free options for people who are lactose intolerant or adhere to a vegan diet.
3. Your Business Plan
Now that you know a little bit more about your industry and the direction you’re going to take your company in, you need to write up a professional business plan.
Your business plan needs to include:
• An overview
• Your market analysis
• Your business structure (employees/managers)
• Your marketing plan
• Products and services
• Startup costs
• Financial projections
• And more
Take your time creating your business plan, as it will likely be the deciding factor in whether or not lenders or investors grant you startup funding.
4. Your Startup Funding
Speaking of startup funding, how much do you need to get your ice cream store off the ground? Determining your costs requires a bit of research (and math).
First, find your ideal location and figure out how much it will cost you to rent the store each month. Include utilities, common area maintenance fees (if applicable), and services.
Then, find out your minimum costs to get your business going, including:
• Materials and equipment
• Ingredients and supplies
• Business insurance
• Marketing costs
• Personal financial needs
• And more
We recommend starting slow with as little overhead as possible. Then, allow your business to expand as you gain popularity in the community.
5. Your Location
Location is huge when opening a restaurant. This is especially important as an ice cream shop. Eventually, if consumers like your ice cream, they’ll go out of their way to buy from you.
However, in the beginning, it will be much easier to draw in new people from the community and grow your brand awareness if you’re in a popular part of town. Try to find a location that has heavy foot traffic and/or heavy drive-by traffic.
6. Your Business Structure
Owning a small business in our current climate means doing things a little differently. Right now, it means knowing and understanding Covid-19 food service requirements.
The pandemic has changed much about how we do business. Make sure you’re prioritizing the safety and health of your employees and your customers.
Next, you need to establish your business’s organization and structure.
Will you operate the ice cream store on your own for a while or do you want to have employees right off the bat? What will your business hours be? Will you have other managers to take over when you’re not in the shop?
7. Your Equipment and Materials
As noted earlier, to get your ice cream store off the ground, you have to invest in the necessary equipment, materials, and supplies you need for day to day operations. These include ice cream dispensers, storage units, point-of-sale equipment, utensils, cups, and more.
Check out Beverage Air refrigerators and coolers for some great options for storing your ice cream and other cold products.
8. Your Branding
Owning a successful small business requires a lot of time, attention, and dedication to your craft. However, it also relies on effective branding.
You need to design your brand name, logo, website, and advertising messages with the same style. Your brand name should be easy to remember. Your logo must stand out, yet remain simple.
Work with a branding company to help you develop the right imagery to appeal to consumers. The more easily they recognize your brand, the better.
9. Your Marketing Plan
One of the most important small business tips is to invest in your ice cream store marketing. This means taking time to understand your target market as well as learning the basics of digital marketing.
At the very least, you need to have an amazing user-friendly website, a strong SEO strategy, and a social media presence. Beyond that, you can look into:
• Content marketing
• Email marketing
• PPC marketing
• Search engine marketing
• And more
As a small local business, you should also pursue other marketing strategies, such as referral systems, small business affiliations, fliers, and newspaper ads.
10. Your Financial Management
Finally, understand that small business ventures are risky. Nearly 20% of all startups fail in the first year. By year-five, that figure jumps up to 50%, according to the same source.
Most of the time, businesses fail because they can’t make enough money to keep the lights on. While marketing plays a huge role in generating leads and making sales, you also have to manage your finances.
Learn how to keep track of your monthly cash flow using spreadsheets or programs like Quick Books. We also recommend hiring a financial business advisor to help you make good decisions.
Ready to Open Your Ice Cream Store?
Now that you’ve gotten a better look at all the logistics required to open an ice cream store, are you ready to get started? As long as you take a strategic approach to open your store, there’s no reason you can’t be successful.
And if you’re looking for more business advice, check out some of our other articles before you go. Our website is full of marketing tips, financial guidance, and everything else you need to be successful.