You’ve been working as an assistant in the dessert department of a well-known restaurant for almost two years now. Your goal was to try to learn as much as you can on what goes on in the kitchen: how the food is prepared, how the orders are processed, how the chef coordinates with his sous-chef, or when the dessert needs to be ready.
At night and on weekends, you put yourself through school to gain knowledge on how to become an entrepreneur. You like working in the dessert department, and you’ve developed an idea in your head to start an ice cream business. How does one do it? Do you need to invest immediately on equipment like a dispensing nozzle or a small tabletop conveyor, for the filling and packaging lines of your product?
Here are a few things that you need to bear in mind:
Ice Cream Industry Overview
Ben & Jerry’s, Baskin Robbins, Häagen-Dazs, and many other famous brands, propelled the ice cream industry to a $9 billion revenue in 2018. The number of businesses, however, comes to just fewer than 500. So, this might be a good indicator that the market might not be that saturated, mainly if you will start out targeting a local audience.
Starting the Business
Will you call it gelato or ice cream? That’s probably one of the items that you need to address. But here are more items that you need to tackle when setting up your ice cream business:
- Opposition research. Take a page from political parties running an election campaign: do opposition research. Learn about the competitors in your area. Go to their shop and see their setup—what kind of flavors are they serving, how does the display counter look like, how do servers behave around their customers. Compile this information and study them. It will help you position your menu and the way you handle customers.
- Financial resources. From your research on your competitor, you will have an idea of what kind of investment you require. Depending on the size of your operation, you can spend anywhere from $2,000 for a cart-type ice cream stand, to upwards of $500,000 for a full-blown mass-market production. But a small brick-and-mortar operation will require roughly $50,000.
- Best location. Find the best location for your store, which will typically be near other businesses, by the roadside with a clear glass window, and with the possibility to place prominent and vibrant signage. Access to parking is also a key consideration for the location of your business.
- Equipment and decoration. You need an ice cream machine, blenders, freezers, dipping cabinets, scoops, cone holders, sinks, and dishwasher will be part of the equipment you need to get. Decorations are an essential part of your store. Make sure that your design concept will appeal to both the young generation and adults who enjoy your cold, creamy creations.
- Let the world know! Well, maybe not the world, but at least let your neighborhood and nearby areas know that you are opening an ice cream shop. Print out flyers or brochures that indicate your menu and distribute them. Your marketing plan should include the creation of a website and the utilization of social media platforms. Instagram, for example, is a powerful tool for finding out how your product tastes and looks like.
You’re already an experienced worker in a restaurant kitchen. You know how to make ice cream, so that is an advantage for you. Those trying out this business without prior knowledge should learn the craft of ice cream making. Lastly, organizing the structure of your business is crucial. Make sure that you go through all the legal processes.