How to start an ice cream van business
How to start an ice cream van business
Memories of sunshine, tinkling music, frozen treats … in the hot summer months, starting up an ice cream van business can seem very attractive. With the prospect of being your own boss, making a respectable income and becoming a hit with the neighbourhoods on your route – what’s not to like?
Starting on this new venture may also not be as onerous as you might think, making this prospect potentially very sweet indeed. Before you jump in, here are essential questions to consider.
Creating a business plan for your ice cream van business
One of the first steps when starting any business is to write a business plan . You need to consider what kind of outlay you can afford, and how you’ll secure financing. Are you planning to use existing savings, or take out a loan? If you take out a loan, how will you keep up repayments if things don’t work out?
You’ll also need to calculate your incomings and outgoings. Will you be working by yourself or do you plan to employ someone? Will you be operating full time or part time? What prices do you plan to set , and will your target market (probably children) be able to afford them?
Location, location, location
If you’re planning to start an ice cream van business, you probably have a route or a pitch in mind. Your next step should be to consult with your local authority to find out what their policies are regarding trading. Some places may have a ban on ice-cream vans in specific areas. Local authorities may mandate exclusion zones in or near busy shopping precincts, or ban ice cream vendors from pay-and-display parking. It’s also common for authorities to set up exclusion zones around schools or play areas where children gather. You need to be aware of local regulations that apply to your proposed area of operation.
Competition comes in many flavours
As part of your business plan, you’ll need to research your competition. If there any other ice cream vendors on your proposed route – brick-and-mortar or other ice cream vans – you need to consider how that might affect your profits. With their lower prices, supermarkets and corner-shops can offer very stiff competition. It’s also very likely that unless another ice cream vendor has recently quit or retired, someone else is already operating in the area – and may strongly contest your right to do so. The right pitch can be very lucrative, and other operators will be very protective of a good spot.
Here are some questions to consider regarding competition:
● Who will you be competing against?
● If you have significant competition, will the market support another trader?
● What can you offer your customers that the competition doesn’t?
● Is the market likely to expand or contract?
In some cases, you may be able to take over a round from an existing trader. This offers a number of advantages, not least the removal of a competitor. They may be willing to sell you their van and equipment, and may also provide invaluable information about the practicalities of working on a particular route or pitch.
Picking your products
An important choice you’ll face is determining the kinds of products you plan to offer. There are two main types of ice cream van, known as hard and soft. A hard van only provides refrigeration for frozen goods and scoop ice cream. A soft van has the same facilities, plus a machine for soft-serve ice cream.
In regions where the climate is variable, you may want to diversify into other products besides ice cream. Sweets, crisps and soft drinks are all possibilities, but some van operators also choose to sell hot items: teas and coffees are popular, as are hot dogs, hamburgers and other cooked foods. If you want to offer hot foods as well as ice cream, you’ll need to ensure that your van is fitted with proper cooking equipment and hot-food storage.
Your choice of products is highly significant. Consider your intended market and how you plan to stand out relative to other traders. If, for instance, you plan to offer your very own brand of artisanal, organic ice cream, you’ll likely face higher costs – and sell at higher prices – than other ice cream vans selling industrial products they can source in bulk. As such, you’ll need to ensure your customer base can afford your pricier ice cream; or, alternatively, devise a business model enabling you to make up for lower prices with greater volume. These decisions will depend on the findings of the industry analysis and market research you conducted while writing your business plan, so make sure they are sound.
Your vehicle and equipment
Your physical vehicle and the equipment you’re planning to use are crucial elements of your business plan, of course. You need to think about the kind of van and refrigeration systems you’ll invest in. As mentioned above, selling soft ice cream or adding hot snacks to your repertoire will require additional equipment.
As concerns the vehicle, you have several options: new or preowned, bespoke or conversion, modifying your existing vehicle … all of these can make a big difference on your starting up costs. Additionally, your choices will determine your options in terms of how to finance your small company’s business van : outright purchase, contract hire, lease purchase, the list goes on. In all cases, good fuel efficiency should be a top criterion, as fuel will be a major ongoing outlay.
Vehicles with bespoke conversions
If you do not already own a business van, you can kill two birds with one stone by acquiring a vehicle and having it tailored to your own specifications. The Renault Master is a hugely versatile vehicle, with many conversions available both “off the shelf” and tailor-made, through our network of Accredited Converters. These include installing temperature-controlled environments in addition to other requirements you may have for your business.
Modifying your existing Renault vehicle
Having your existing Renault vehicle modified as an ice cream van could be one of the less onerous options depending on your situation, with temperature-controlled installations. We encourage you to check with our Accredited Converters whether your vehicle is eligible and how this modification will impact your warranty.
Acquiring a new or used ice cream van
Though this may seem like the ideal option overall, it essentially applies in two distinct cases. The first is if you plan to make very short runs or sell from a single location: used ice cream vans 10 to 20 years old can go for sale in the £4,000 to £7,000 price range, but are more prone to breakdown and less fuel efficient. Models just five years old can start at £12,000 and quickly fetch for more, though they rarely have the option for lease or hire purchase. The second is if your venture holds a truly significant starting up budget, as prices for brand-new ice cream vans based on late-model vehicles typically begin at £60,000 or more.
Independent trading or franchise?
There are many advantages to running your ice cream van as a franchise. Large ice cream companies offer ice cream van franchises that you can obtain for a certain minimum investment. Franchises are attractive as they may provide things like equipment, insurance and pre-approved routes or pitches. The downside of a franchise is that you will probably be limited in terms of which items you’re allowed to sell. You may also be constrained to a particular route or pitch, since the company will likely have other operators in the region and won’t want any overlap between franchisees.
Don’t forget the paperwork
Now that you’ve drafted your business plan and selected a vehicle, you’ll need to ensure that you have filed all the correct paperwork. Just to begin with, you will need a standard food hygiene certificate. Obtain any business licenses that you may need to operate in your intended area. As part of your business plan, you will already have carefully investigated any national and local regulations that might affect your operation; before you start trading, you’ll need to re-check everything and ensure you’re in full compliance. Don’t forget that you’ll need additional catering van insurance for an ice cream van.
Setting up an ice cream van business may not be the simplest thing in the world — but with the right preparation and a little luck, it can be a lucrative and satisfying occupation.
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India is a land of tropical weather; with summers being the longest weather in the country. Thus, in niche food businesses, the Ice Cream parlor business seems to be the most lucrative. Over the last couple of years, ice cream parlor business has seen some rapid innovation. Earlier roadside carts were common among the people and were frequented by mostly children and youngsters. Nowadays, the concept of ice cream parlors is fast gaining popularity, where people can enjoy ice cream at leisure. The reason behind this changing trend is clear – one is the increasing disposable income of the middle-class family and secondly, the western culture is influencing the consumer habits. These macro and microeconomic factors make the ice cream parlor business more viable and profitable in present times.
In this particular article, we will take you through the step-by-step guide on how to start your own ice cream parlor in India. Unlike other formats, the market is a very niche for this particular product and format. However, if done carefully and getting a few things right, you can make your ice cream business a runaway success.
How to Open an Ice Cream Parlor Business in India
Here is a step by step guide on how to open an ice cream parlor business in India:
1. Deciding the Format
In present time there are a lot of ice cream formats from cold stone, Ice cream rolls, ice cream cakes, Nitrogen ice cream, live ice cream counters and pre-packed ice cream counters there are endless. So, the first step it is choosing which type of ice cream parlor you want to open.
Ice Cream Delivery- Food delivery has become quite a rage these days, and can also be a profitable business model for ice cream parlors if done smartly. Ensure that you provide your delivery boy with ice boxes equipped with dry ice. This would keep the ice cream chilled and solid for a decent amount of time, and prevent spoiling. You can get three layers of dry ice for a meager Rs 30 per day.
2. Investments & Area Required to Open an Ice Cream Parlor
On average, an ice cream parlor requires a 400-500 SqFt carpet area shop or a small food truck which has the necessary arrangements for refrigeration. In both the cases, the average investment required is between Rs 5 lakhs and 10 lakhs depending upon the ambiance and sitting area you want to create. High-end ice cream parlors can require investment up to 15 lakh. Apart from that, one has to look for a market or catchment area where there is a high footfall and people are ready to splurge.
3. Deciding the Location of the Ice Cream Parlor
Eating ice-cream is not a necessity unlike another form of food, but it is more of fun and fashion in the crowd. So, a proper market research should be done before choosing the location. An Ice cream truck being a movable property can experiment at different areas before finalizing the location.
To open an ice cream parlor, the availability of the parking space is extremely important. Purchasing ice cream is usually an impulse decision by customers, therefore, the ice cream parlor should be easily accessible, and have ample parking space. Look for a location near businesses, such as markets, children’s clothing/toy stores or family restaurants.
4. Procurement of Store types of equipment With Respect to the Menu
Once the format and location are finalized, list down the number of items you want to sell at your store. Then compare it with competition around and keep the pricing the low initially in order to penetrate the market and distribute free samples. Based on the menu, decide what all kitchen equipment you want to procure and then divide the list into two parts one which items which you want to buy new and other which can procure as used or old or the equipment which has less impact on your quality and ambiance.
5. List of Equipment Required to open an Ice Cream Parlor
For a Cold stone ice cream parlor, the list of equipment (With a rough estimation )
- Cold stone refrigerator (Rs 2-2.5 lakhs)
- Chest Refrigerator with a capacity of 500L (Rs 40,000)
- Storage cupboards and utensils (Rs 30,000)
- Raw materials including packaging (Rs 1-1.5 lakhs)
- Miscellaneous (Rs 50,000).
For an ice-cream parlor, power backup is indispensable, as the prime way wastage in an ice cream parlor happens when the ice cream melts. A good refrigerator can preserve the ice cream for a good two hours, but if there is a power outage for longer hours, then you are in for trouble. Therefore, remember to invest in a good noiseless generator. You can get this under Rs 1 lakh.
6. Staff Required for an Ice Cream Parlor Business in India
In this particular format, the number of employees required is very less as you just need three people including cashier to serve or to make a particular flavor of the ice cream. One of the uniqueness in this format is that you don’t need a proper Chef or Bar Tender whose salaries are way too high.
Anybody can learn how to make a particular style of ice cream with a little training so no skilled labor is required. The salary in this format may lie between Rs 30-40k depending upon the soft skills of the employees.
7. Maintaining Consistency in Ice Cream Parlor Business
One thing that you must ensure when you open an ice cream business is maintaining consistency in taste. Whether you have one ice cream parlor or a chain of outlets, you must ensure the same taste and quality in ice cream portion that you sell.
Standardization of recipes is a must in ice cream parlors. If you have multiple outlets, then you must make efficient use of Central Kitchen Management, which ensures easy distribution of your products from the base kitchen to different outlets. Use a specific Point of Sales software that includes this feature, and also helps you manage your inventory apart from the regular billing operations.
8. Licensing & Paperwork Needed to Open an Ice Cream Parlor
Since ice cream comes under the food category so all the licenses required are quite similar to that of a QSR – Shop establishment licenses, FSSAI licenses, Local Municipal Authority license and Fire license.
In all of this, an expense of Rs 50,000 is incurred. It is always advisable to take help of a consultancy to get all the required licenses. since it is very time taking the process and you can concentrate on other areas of business.
Since ice-cream is usually consumed as a dessert item, the prime time of ice cream sales is 9 PM onwards. Therefore, get the license to keep your ice cream parlor open till at least 1 AM for late-night operations.
Lastly, the ice cream business completely depends on the unique flavors you sell, right pricing and high-footfall market. Hence, if you have the right ice cream parlor business plan, and implement the above-mentioned points diligently, then you can be certain to have an overflowing cash register.
Inputs are taken from Hemant Jain, MD, Goosebumps Ice Cream, on how to open an ice cream parlor.
Rating: 3.9/5. From 9 votes.
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Dear sir ,
I need to talk to you regarding the new set up of my parlour in hyderabad.can u drop me ur number please.
Hi Mr. Mirza,
Please write to us at [email protected] , and we can discuss this further in detail.
hey mirza can i get your contact details
i am from a village of maharashtra. there is not any ice cream selling shoppy in my village. Population is about 8000.
i am basically farmer so i am thinking about ice cream shop as a side business With small risk. So i request you to please guide me about all that. I dont know ABCD of that business.
Did you got comment of following! . I would also like know about it
I want to open ice cream parlor please I need ur guidelines can we contact you we want to open in Bangalore only
If you interested for Brand, then Call 9137888191 for Franchisee. We are looking for a franchisee Partner for various City.
I already have an ice cream manufacturing company running from past 20 years. I want to expand and improve my business by manufacturing more new flavors as the market is very competitive. Please suggest me where and how can i get trained by new flavors to improve my business. Thanks in advance.
Hi I’m an italian gelato maker expert in research and development in the ice cream field, if you’d like some advice you can get in touch at [email protected] and also meet my agent in India.
sir, i wanted to open a nitrogen ice cream parlor in my hometown. I don’t need a franchise, I want to make my own brand. can you please help me.
my mail id is [email protected]
I have a resturant so i want to add some ice cream parlour in my resturant.suggest me
I have already running business of ice cream in restaurants..it’s succeed,call me on 9699497772 for further details
I am based in Delhi and want to start an ice cream parlour and my budget is very small about 2.5 -3 lacks max.
Needs your guidance
my probem is also same.I can only invest 3lakhs. Please reply me if u have a solution
If u want to open new icecream parolur..then contac me as we have all the assesorue like de freezer and live ice cream machine and other assessories also…feel free to contact and if really want to open…con no 7982557869
I have a small shop 10X10 ft in Ratlam (MP) and i want to open ice cream shop .Pls suggest me how i can open the shop and from which brand ,expenditure ,leasing etc.
Hi, I am Mahesh, I want to open a ice cream manufacturing unit and i am new to this business, Could you please help me. my mail id is [email protected] and my mobile no. 9849216991.
Hi, I am Anant. I want to open a small ice cream kisok in a mall at my home town space area 50square feet.kindly suggest.
I am based in the UK and looking to open an ice creme parlour in India.
We are looking for suitable partner. We do not need finance (we have this already), we need someone with like minded vision where we can build a brand or build upon a established business and scale up/expand in nearby cities.
Hopefully we can talk to someone that wants to join my interest.
About me : I am 37 and semi-retired, married with 4 lovely kids and enjoy football, cricket and swimming. I am ex Project Manager, and for the past 9 years built a successful electronics business that has enabled me to semi-retire and allowed to spend large amounts time with my family and friends.
Anyhow, maybe someone shares the same interest in my next venture can partner us. I can be contacted via facetime (Apple users only) using my number or email.
E:mail [email protected]
Mobile: 07414 501 006 (wats app or call or text).
As I live in London, UK you may have to drop the 0 in the number and add the international dial code.
I have a space of around 1000 sq carpet area at a not very busy area, but some 1 kilometer away from an IT park near Kochi. I am interested to open an Ice Cream parlor there. Any offer or suggestion?
This is Mr Satish i want to start a business of ice cream parlour i have a 150 sq ft area in my hometown but i dont know anything regarding this business Please suggest me expenditure,lease etc
either it is profitable by home made or branded items?
i am looking an investor for 2000 sq. feet chocolates ice cream parlor in north Cyprus interested parties please email for more information
To all whio wish to open a small or medium sized parlour. contact me on folling:
[email protected] or call me .
we allready produce our own gelato in Goa and looking for further outlets . in south and north india.
we allso are looking for a Business Partner.
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