Ice cream van business

Starting an ice cream truck business can turn into a profitable venture.Starting an ice cream truck business can turn into a profitable venture.

ice cream lolly image by Renata Osinska from Fotolia.com

Operating an ice cream truck business requires creativity, efficiency, commitment and a solid business plan. Selling ice cream in neighborhoods and at parks or events can provide a recession-proof source of income. The cost of a night out at the movies far exceeds the price of popsicles. Before opening for business, decide on a specific niche. Ice cream trucks may choose to sell international items like gelato or locally produced ice cream. Either way, it’s important to differentiate your business from the competition.

Business Plan

The rate of success and failure of any business typically goes back to planning or the lack thereof. The U.S. Small Business Administration says that only 51 percent of small businesses survive even five years. An ineffective business plan and ineffective marketing and self-promotion, among other reasons, contribute to small-business failures, according to Dun and Bradstreet. Writing a thorough business plan that impresses bankers and investors requires skill and experience. Your plan should address budget considerations and profit/loss projections to help minimize the risk of failure. Although it’s possible to compose a well-written, detailed business plan on your own, available resources do exist. A simple Internet search produces several business plan kits and planning services that write plans or provide step-by-step guidance on how to write a plan yourself. Basic elements of your business plan would include: Ice cream industry background with quantitative figures All forms necessary to be completed Revenue and expense estimates Profit and loss ratios Statistical research and analysis Marketing and promotion plan

Marketing Ideas

Effectively advertising your ice cream truck business will significantly affect your success. The location of any business is always an important factor. Since an ice cream truck is a mobile business, take care when planning the route you intend to travel. Focus on neighborhoods with children, business parks or other well-populated areas. Whatever route you decide upon, be consistent. Build a customer base that knows when and where to find your ice cream truck. Local advertising that reaches your target audience also deserves your attention. Direct mailings, billboards, radio spots and coupons are just some of the techniques you may employ. "Buy one get one free" coupons are popular, attention-getting programs that let customers believe they are getting a bargain and provide you with a way to track traffic to your business. Although you'll give away inventory, you can sell additional items, meet your customers and expose them to any additional products you may sell. Loyalty programs also encourage repeat customers. Offering customers a free ice cream after several visits to your truck creates ongoing business for you while rewarding customers for their loyalty.

Public Relations

An effective PR strategy requires creativity and good timing and does not demand substantial funds. Reach out to local publications to announce your grand opening. Send a press release to the papers. Try to develop a working relationship with the media. Your goal is to integrate yourself into the community and connect with potential customers. Meet people at church, charity functions or local sporting events. Interacting with the neighborhood and other business owners lets you self-promote your business and network with future customers.

Social Media

Today’s culture demands that business owners create a social media presence. Ice cream truck owners are no different than other businesses in this regard. Create a page on Facebook to generate awareness and excitement for your business. Use Twitter to communicate special offers, ice cream trivia or to announce new flavors. Use social media to develop your brand and reinforce your presence.

Licenses and Registration

License requirements vary from state to state. Therefore, it’s best to contact the local department of motor vehicles regarding the operating license required to own an ice cream truck business. Also, contact the department of consumer affairs and the health department. The latter will regularly inspect food distributors, and ice cream trucks fall into this category.

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