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How Much Do Ice Cream Trucks Make in Profit Yearly?

Ice Cream Truck Business

Do you want to know how much money ice cream truck drivers make in profit yearly? If YES, here is an analysis of the income potential of ice cream trucks.

An ice cream van or ice cream truck is a commercial vehicle that serves as a mobile retail outlet for ice cream, usually during the summer. Ice cream vans are often seen parked at public events, or near parks, beaches, or other areas where people congregate. These are usually the venues where they get the bulk of their customers.

The ice cream truck business is said to be recession-proof because ice cream is extremely popular in the United States, even in all seasons. However, steady locations are important when it comes to making a consistent income in this business.

Factors that Determine Your Average Yearly Income

i. Seasonality

Ice cream business in basically a seasonal business, though of course, people still buy ice cream in the cold months. But for this article, the average income numbers assume you are working summer months. Ice cream trucks will make the bulk of their business during the warmer months and when kids are out of school.

A lot of vendors only operate this as a seasonal business and they were able to generate between $15,000 – $30,000 of gross revenue annually.

ii. Frequency

Being successful in the ice cream distribution game is all about consistency. The more days and hours you vend per month, the more you get to make yearly. It really is that simple. If you want to make significant amounts of money in this business, you need to be prepared to work long hours, weekends, and holidays during summer months.

iii. Big Income Days

Yes, revenue will drop during the winter for you. But remember, you will also have days that will exceed your averages and you might generate between $500 – $1,000 in a single day.

Particularly hot days or holidays for July 4th when everyone is in a good mood and celebrating lead to big pops in revenue that make your month. Another way to see larger income days is to allow customers to book you for special events or kids birthday parties.

How Much Money Do Ice Cream Businesses Make Yearly?

According to research, what one can earn daily in the summertime selling ice cream from a truck is between $200 – $300 of gross sales. If you worked 20 days per month on average, that would be $5,000 in gross profit.

  • Average Daily Income: $200 – $300
  • Average Monthly Income: $5,000
  • Average annual income – $60,000

Note that this is your gross profit and you have to factor in your expenses for you to get the correct figures of what you stand to earn yearly from the business.

  • Average Monthly Expenses: $2,500
  • Average Yearly Expenses – $30,000

This leaves you with $30,000 as your tentative average income annually.

Profit Margins on Ice Cream

The margins on your product are often 50 percent or above. If you purchase a box of ice cream sandwiches to sell and they cost 50 cents each, you can turn around and sell them for $1 each. Some products are more expensive, while others are very cheap.

Operating a scooper with bulk ice cream bins can have a significant marginal increase as well. Consider limiting the flavors available while purchasing large bins to avoid inefficiency.

Single and double scoop cone sales can exceed a 100 percent markup under this model. A normal summer day can drive $200 to $500 in sales, and you can effectively halve the gross for an average estimated daily net profit. If you sell $300 in product, five days per week, that leads to a $1,500 gross profit or $750 net each week. Multiply that by the number of weeks in operation each year to estimate your annual income.

Big events like Memorial Day weekend and the Fourth of July can yield much higher profits. Selling over $1,000 in a single day is very possible during such events. Areas with busy event schedules can help turn a higher income for ice cream truck owners.

Typical Cost to Note in the Ice Cream Truck Business

a. Vehicle

The vehicle you will operate is your biggest investment when it comes to starting a ice cream truck business. A reliable step van or truck will run between $10,000 – $20,000 as an initial investment. You will also need to think about getting the vehicle wrapped, customized and freezers installed to keep your inventory cool. If you’re on a budget, but still want to get into this business you could start a serving from a trike or push cart.

b. Gas

If you have a truck, then you have to get it frequently filled with gas. On the average, you will need to refill your gas tank two times a week.

This can vary very highly depending on how far you need to travel, so factor this in mind. Gas prices have remained well under $3.00 per gallon nationally. As long as gas prices remain low, this is great for the ice cream truck industry, but keep in mind that if prices rise in the future, it will cut into profits.

c. Insurance

This is a variable cost that will depend on where you live, what vehicle you drive, and your personal driving history. That being said, $500 – $1,000 annually is a good amount to budget for insurance.

d. Permits

Depending on where you plan to vend, you may need a special permit. Often these can be acquired for just nominal fee between $50 – $200, but in some large cities this cost could be much higher.

e. Inventory

You’ll need to be regularly replenishing cones, popsicles, and ice cream sandwiches in this business. A solid starting stock of $500 is sufficient for most ice cream vans and can be replenished on an as needed basis. The nice benefit of this Business model is that your waste cost will be minimal. As long as you can keep the product cold, it will remain in good quality.

f. Labor

The nice thing about this business model is that you can usually operate with only one person on board. This is not that case with other food trucks. If you’re the one that will operate this business, there is no labor cost aside from your time.

Keep in mind that you will need to pay someone around $15.00 an hour to operate this type of business if you want to make it a more passive type of business. Management salaries run between $25,000 to $38,000 a year. These are costs you’ll have to factor into your business plan when figuring out your earning potential.