Do you want to start a snow cone business? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a snow cone business with NO money and no experience plus a sample snow cone business plan template.
Starting a snow cone business can be rewarding especially if you situate your snow cone kiosk/shop in a strategic location where you can easily attract children and those who love snow cones. The fact that children love taking snow cones when they are out in the park makes it one of those businesses that is in high demand and as a matter of fact can be profitable.
A snow cone business is one business that an entrepreneur can successfully start on the corner of a busy street or in a mobile shop without breaking the bank for cash.
At the same time, big – time investors can also leverage on the high demand for snow cones in parks and schools to set up their own snow cone shops in strategic locations all around key cities in the united states of America. Snow cone shops/kiosks can be located in any part of town as long as there are children and even adults who love snow cones around the location.
Generally, snow cone kiosks and shops are located in schools, parks, shopping malls, hotel lobby, railway stations, bus station, campuses and sport centers and in any public facilities as long as you are given the permission to locate your snow cone kiosk or shop there.
On the other hand, if you operate a mobile snow cone shop, then there won’t be any restriction in the places you can sell your snow cones.
One good thing about starting a snow cone business is that if you are diligent enough and if you have good business/marketing strategies, you can build the business from just one outlet to numerous outlets across different cities in the world from the sale of franchise.
Opening a snow cone kiosk/shop just like starting any other business might not be entirely easy, but one thing is certain, it is a straight – forward business that can generate huge and steady profits if well positioned and properly managed.
People often think that starting a snow cone business does not require any professional skills; in as much as this is true, you would still need good business skills and of course customer services skills if indeed you want to build a profitable business.
Therefore, if you are considering opening a snow cone shop business, all you would need is some capital to purchase or lease/rent a suitable facility (if you are not settling for mobile snow cone shop), the required equipment/utensils, and furniture.
You would also need some additional capital to purchase the initial supply of assorted flavors, pay your employees at least for the first 3 months, and also to pay your utility bills. These expenses are called working capital.
Steps to Starting a Snow Cone Business
Table of Content
- 2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- 3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
- 4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
- 5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
- 9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
- 10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
- 11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
- 12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- 13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
- 14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
- 15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
- 16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
- 17. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products
- 18. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
- 19. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
1. Understand the Industry
Snow cones basically are a variation of shaved ice or ground-up ice desserts commonly served throughout the United States of America and Canada in paper cones or foam cups.
The dessert generally consists of ice shavings that are topped with flavored sugar syrup. Other snow cone flavors also include Cherry, Grape, Blue Raspberry, Strawberry, Lemon-Lime, Banana, Tiger’s Blood, Root Beer, Watermelon, and Pina Colada et al.
The Ice Cream Production industry of which snow cone (shaved ice or ground – up ice deserts) line of business belong to has come a long way and it is still evolving with loads of snow cone desert makers bringing in creativity in terms of flavors, packaging and mode of selling.
Just like ice creams, snow cones are generally consumed by almost everybody in our planet, and as such anyone who chooses to establish a snow cone trucking business or outlet in any part of the world especially in tropical regions or countries in the equator is sure going to get good returns on his or her investment as long as they are doing the right thing.
Players in the Ice Cream Production/ice cream truck industry of which the snow cone line of business is a part of predominantly produce different flavors of snow cone, ice cream, frozen yogurt and sherbet et al, and sell these products to downstream markets such as retailers and food service related businesses.
Between 2010 and 2015, the Ice Cream Production industry’s performance has declined as repressed disposable income in the years following the recession caused consumers to purchase a smaller volume of industry goods at retail stores, ice cream trucks and food service related businesses.
In addition, the growing health concerns around us have caused many people to cut down their consumption of foods such as snow cones and ice cream, which is naturally high in fat and sugar. Largely, the industry revenue is projected to decline by 0.3 percent per year on average to $8.0 billion in the next 5 years.
It is on record that many players in the Ice Cream Production/ice cream truck industry were able to successfully beat the economic downturn and grow strongly over the last five years, as healthy and nutritious snow cones and ice cream became one of America’s favorite frozen desserts.
No doubt, the increasing popularity of the dessert has enabled the speedy franchise growth of well-known brands in the industry which has made this industry one of the foodservice sector’s biggest success stories of the past decade. The ice cream production/ice cream truck industry has remained resilient even as other food segments waned during recession period.
Statistics has it that there are roughly three hundred and seventy-three (373) standard registered and licensed ice cream production cum ice cream truck companies (snow cones production inclusive) in the United States and they can be found in all states, in major cities and remote rural areas in the U.S. The industry is responsible for employing about 18,474 people and raking in an average of $8 billion annually.
One of the great benefits of starting a snow cone business is of course low startup costs, and entrepreneurs interested in starting the business can chose to either rent or buy new equipment and also to operate a mobile snow cone truck or operate from a fixed facility (kiosk or shop).
If you are contemplating starting your own snow cone business in the United States, you should ensure that you carry out a thorough market survey and feasibility studies. States in the southern region in the United States such as Texas and Florida et al can be ideal for a snow cone truck business simply because of the climatic condition.
If you get some key factors wrong before starting your snow cone truck business, then you are likely going to struggle to stay afloat.
The snow cone business will continue to blossom because people will always want to take snow cones when they are thirsty and when they are out there in the open especially during summer. Despite the fact that the industry seems over – saturated, there is still room big enough to accommodate aspiring entrepreneurs who intend opening their own snow cone shops in the United States of America.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic composition of those who buy snow cones and related desserts from snow cone shops cut across all genders and age groups. Male and female, adults and children all consume snow cones hence the demographic composition of the snow cone shop business is all encompassing.
The truth is that when it comes to selling snow cones and other ice desserts, there is indeed a wide range of available customers. In essence, your target market can’t be restricted to just a group of people, but to all those that reside around the locations where you have your snow cone shop and who have the purchasing power.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
It is important to state that there is no known niche area when it comes to the snow cone shop business. Every player in this line of business are basically involved in preparing and serving/selling snow cones, ice creams, yoghurt and perhaps other ice – desserts.
Naturally, it is common to find a standard snow cone shop preparing and selling all of the under listed;
- Selling different flavors of snow cones (shaved ice or ground – up ice deserts) such as Cherry, Grape, Blue Raspberry, Strawberry, Lemon-Lime, Banana, Tiger’s Blood, Root Beer, Watermelon, and Pina Colada
- Selling snacks
- Training, Advisory and Consultancy Services
- Selling Franchise
The Level of Competition in the Industry
The truth is that no matter the level of competition in an industry, if you have done your due diligence and you brand and promote your products or business properly, you will always make headway in the industry. Just ensure you are good at preparing the different flavors of snow cones and ice desserts you have on your menu, you can deliver excellent customer care services and you know how to attract and reach out to your target market.
There are several snow cone shops and ice cream shops, mobile food trucks, and any other outlets that also sell snow cones and ice desserts scattered all around the United States. So, if you choose to start your own snow cone shop business in the United States, you will definitely meet stiff competitions amongst these shops. Besides, there are larger snow cone shops – brands that determine the trends in the industry and you should be ready to compete with them for customers.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
In every industry, there are always brands that perform better or are better regarded by customers and the general public than others. Some of these brands are those that have been in the industry for a long time, while others are best known for how they conduct their businesses and the results they have achieved over the years.
These are some of the leading snow cone shops in the United States of America and in the globe;
- Jerrys Snow cones
- Shimmers Snow Cone Stand
- Tc Shaved Ice
- Iceberg Dive Inn
- Sno-La Snowball Lounge
- Sno Biz Treats
- Chuck’s Sno Cones
- Snoh Ice Shavery
- New Orleans SnoBall Café
- Oasis Shaved Ice
- Pelican’s SnoBalls
- Polar Chill Shaved Ice
- Sweet Firefly
- Aunt Stelle’s Snow Cones
- Snowilicious Shaved Ice
- Cardinal Snowcone
- Jacobs Snow Cones and Concessions
- Kona Ice of San Angelo
- Snofellas Shaved Ice
- A.M. Enterprises Jolly Trolley Sno-Cone Factory
The snow cone shop business is not a Green business, as a matter of fact, you will come across several snow cone shops and ice cream shops, mobile food trucks, and any other outlets that also sell snow cones and ice desserts when you drive through town.
So, if you are mapping out your economic analysis, you should carry out thorough market survey and costing of what is required to rent a space where you are expected to open your snow cone shop and the amount required to purchase snow cone making machines and equipment like, blenders, refrigerators, ice block/shave making machines, coolers, assorted flavors and other supplies and also the running cost of the business.
Over and above, if you are considering starting a snow cone business, then your concern should not be limited to the cost of renting a shop facility and purchasing snow cone making machines and equipment, but also on branding and on how to build a robust clientele base. The truth is that if you are able to build a robust clientele base, you are sure going to maximize profits in the business.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
When it comes to starting a business of this nature, it will pay you to buy the franchise of a successful and well – established snow cone shop/brand as against starting from the scratch. Even though it is relatively expensive to buy the franchise of an established snow cone shop brand, but it will definitely pay you.
But if you truly want to build your own brand after you must have proved your worth in the Ice Cream Production industry, then you might just want to start your own snow cone shop business from the scratch. The truth is that it will pay you in the long run to start your snow cone shop business from the scratch. Starting from the scratch will afford you the opportunity to conduct thorough market survey and feasibility studies before choosing a location to launch the business.
Please note that most of the big and successful snow cone shops around started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand. It takes dedication, hard work and determination to achieve business success and of course you can build your own snow cone shop business – brand to become a successful brand with corporate and individual clients from all across the city where your snow cone shop business is located.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
If you decide to start your own snow cone shop business today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well – established snow cone shops and ice cream shops, and other outlets that also sell snow cone and ice desserts. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market.
Some other challenges and threats that you are likely to face are economic downturn and unfavorable government policies. There is nothing you can do as regard these threats and challenges other than to stay positive that things will work well for you.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
Generally, you have the options of either choosing a general partnership, limited liability company which is commonly called an LLC, or even a sole proprietorship for a business such as snow cone shop business. Ordinarily, sole proprietorship should have been the ideal business structure for a small – scale snow cone shop business especially if you are just starting out with a moderate start – up capital in a small neighborhood and with just one outlet.
But people prefer limited liability Company for obvious reasons. As a matter of fact, if your intention is to grow the business and have chains of snow cone shops across the United States of America and other countries of the world via franchising, then choosing sole proprietor is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC or even general partnership will cut it for you.
Setting up an LLC protects you from personal liability. If anything goes wrong in the business, it is only the money that you invested into the limited liability company that will be at risk. Limited liability companies are simpler and more flexible to operate and you don’t need a board of directors, shareholders meetings and other managerial formalities.
These are some of the factors you should consider before choosing a legal entity for your snow cone shop business; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners, investors expectation and of course taxes.
If you take your time to critically study the various legal entities, you will agree that the limited liability company; LLC is most suitable. You can start this type of business as limited liability company (LLC) and in future convert it to a ‘C’ corporation or an ‘S’ corporation especially when you have the plans of going public.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
When it comes to choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. Usually it is the norm for people to follow the trend in the industry they intend operating from when naming their business.
If you are considering starting your own snow cone shop business, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;
- People’s Delight® Snow Cone, LLC
- Brownie D’ Bear®, Snow Cone Shop, LLC
- Tippy Tapa® Ice Dessert Mobile Truck, Inc.
- Dine Ventures® Snow Cone Shop, Inc.
- Mainlanders® Snow Cone Shop, Inc.
- Chris – Cross™ Ice Dessert Shop, Inc.
- Back Street© Snow Cone Shop, Inc.
- Clear Prism™, Snow Cone Shop LLC
- Gusto Great© Snow Cone Shop, Inc.
- Cassandra Butler© Ice Desert Shop, Inc.
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
In the United States and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policy covers that are required by the industry you want to operate from. So, it is important to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your snow cone shop business.
Here are some of the basic insurance covers that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own snow cone shop in the United States of America;
- General insurance
- Health/Medical insurance
- Liability insurance
- Workers Compensation
- Overhead expense disability insurance
- Business owner’s policy group insurance
- Payment protection insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
If you are considering starting your own snow cone shop business, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection. This is because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successfully run the business without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.
But if you just want to protect your company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even jingles and media production concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
When it comes to operating a snow cone shop business, you do not need to have any formal training or special certification before you can be allowed to open and operate a snow cone shop business in the United States of America and in all countries of the world. All you need is informal training that will expose you to the in and out of preparing varieties of flavors of snow cones and other ice desserts and also effectively running the business.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
The essence of having the necessary documentation in place before launching a business in the United States of America cannot be overemphasized. It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States without the proper documentations. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long arm of the law catches up with you.
These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own snow cone shop business in the United States of America;
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Business License
- Tax Payer’s ID/Tax Identification Number
- Foods and drinks handlers certificate
- Health inspection Certificate
- Proof of district-issued food and drinks manager identification card
- Copy of license for the service support facility and/or a recent inspection report
- Business Plan
- Non – disclosure Agreement
- Employee Handbook
- Employment Agreement (offer letters)
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Insurance Policy
- Company Bylaws
- Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
- Building License
- Franchise or Trademark License (optional)
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Starting a snow cone shop business can be cost effective especially if you choose to start on a small scale by running a small snow cone shop business in a street corner. Securing a standard and well – positioned store and purchasing snow cone making machines (blenders and mixers), refrigerators, ice block/shave ice making machines, coolers, assorted snow cone flavors and other supplies are part of what will consume a large chunk of your start – up capital.
If you choose to start the business on a large scale, you would need to go source for fund to finance the business because it is expensive to start a standard large scale snow cone shop business.
No doubt when it comes to financing a business, one of the first things and perhaps the major factors that you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business.
Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for start – up capital for your snow cone shop business;
- Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
- Raising money from investors and business partners
- Sell shares to interested investors
- Applying for Loan from your Bank
- Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from donor organizations and angel investors
- Source for soft loans from your family members and friends.
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
When it comes to choosing a location for your snow cone shop business, the rule of thumb is that, you should be guided by the demand for snow cone and other ice desserts and easy access to wholesale purchasing of fresh snow cone flavor supplies directly from wholesale shops/distributors. Of course, if you are able to secure a central location for your snow cone shop business, it will give people easy access to your shop.
It cannot be overemphasized that the location you chose to open your snow cone shop business is key to the success of the business, hence entrepreneurs are willing to rent or lease a facility in a visible location; a location where the demography consists of people with the required purchasing power and lifestyle.
If you make the mistake of renting or leasing a facility for your snow cone shop business in a not too visible or hidden location simply because it is cheap, then you must be prepared to spend more in promoting the business and perhaps giving direction to potential customers.
These are some of the key factors that you should consider before choosing a location for your snow cone shop business;
- The demography of the location
- The demand for snow cones and other ice desserts in the location
- The purchasing power of the residents of the location
- Accessibility of the location
- The number of snow cone shops, ice cream shops, mobile food trucks et al and any other outlets that also sell snow cones and other ice desserts in the location
- The local laws and regulations in the community
- Traffic, parking and security
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
On the average, there are no special technology or equipment needed to run this type of business except for snow cone making machines (blenders and mixers, dishwasher, refrigerator etc.), Storage hardware (bins, utensil rack, shelves, food case), Counter area equipment (counter top, sink, ice machine, etc.), Computers and receipt issuing machines, Sound System (For playing music), Point of Sale Machines (POS Machines), CCTV Cameras and Flat Screen TVs. So also, you will definitely need computers/laptops, internet facility, telephone, fax machine and office furniture (chairs, tables, and shelves) amongst others and all these can be gotten as fairly used.
As regard leasing or outright purchase of a facility, the choice is dependent on your financial standing, but the truth is that to be on the safe side, it is advisable to start off with a short – term rent/lease while test running the business in the location. If things work out as planned, then you go on a long – term lease or outright purchase of the property but if not, then move on and source for other ideal location/facility for such business.
When it comes to hiring employees for a standard snow cone shop business with more than one outlet, you should make plans to hire a competent Chief Executive Officer (you can occupy this role), Admin and Human Resources Manager, Merchandize Manager, Shop Manager, Snow Cone Machine Operators, Sales and Marketing Officer/Sales Girls and Sales Boys, Accounting Clerk, and Cleaners. These are some of the key employees that you can work with. On the average, you will need a minimum of 5 to 10 key staff members to run a small – scale but standard snow cone shop business.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
When it comes to business services process of snow cone shop business, there are no hard and fast rule about it. Basically, it is the duty of the merchandize manager to help the organization purchase assorted snow cone flavors and packaging/serving materials. They go out there to source for good purchasing deals and they also ensure that they only purchase at the right prices that will guarantee them good profits.
Once the snow cone shop business is in full operation, the snow cones and other ice desserts are prepared and they are listed on the menu. Snow cones and other ice desserts purchased from a snow cone shop is usually taken away because they may not have the capacity to accommodate all their customers per – time.
It is important to state that a snow cone shop business may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them efficiency and flexibility; the above stated snow cone shop business process is not cast on stone.
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
Generally, running a business requires that you should be proactive when it comes to marketing your goods or services. If you choose to launch a snow cone shop business, then you must go all out to employ strategies that will help you attract customers or else you will likely struggle with the business because there are well – known brands that determines the market direction for the snow cone shop industry.
These are some of the marketing ideas and strategies that you can adopt for your snow cone shop business;
- Introduce your snow cone shop by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to corporate organizations, car owners, taxi companies, transport companies, households, sports organizations, gyms, schools, socialites, celebrities and other key stakeholders throughout the city where your snow cone shop is located.
- Advertise on the internet on blogs and forums, and also on social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn to get your message across
- Create a basic website for your business, so as to give your business an online presence
- Directly market your products
- Engage in road shows in targeted communities from time to time to promote your snow cone shop business
- Join local snow cone shop business associations for industry trends and tips
- Provide discount days for your customers
- Advertise your business in community based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
- List your business on yellow pages ads (local directories)
- Encourage the use of Word of mouth marketing (referrals)
17. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products
One key factor that will help you sell your snow cones and other ice desserts at rock bottom prices is to purchase your ingredients/supplies directly from wholesalers in pretty large quantities. The truth is the higher the quantity of items that you purchase directly from wholesalers, the cheaper you tend to get them.
Another strategy that will help you retail your snow cones and other ice desserts et al at the right price is to ensure that you cut operational cost to the barest minimum, channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your brand name. Aside from the fact that this strategy will help you save cost, it will also help you get the right pricing for your products.
18. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
The availability of different flavors of snow cones and other ice desserts in your snow cone shop, your business process and of course your pricing model are part of what you need to stay competitive in the industry.
Another possible competitive strategy for winning your competitors in this particular industry is to build a robust clientele base. Over and above, ensure that your organization is well positioned, key members of your team are highly qualified and different flavors of snow cones and other ice desserts listed on your menu can favorably compete with the some of the best in the snow cone shop line of business.
19. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
If your intention of starting a snow cone shop business is to grow the business beyond the city where you are going to be operating from to become a national and international brand by opening chains of snow cone shops and franchising, then you must be ready to spend money on promotion and advertisement of your brand.
No matter the industry you belong to, the truth is that the market is dynamic and it requires consistent brand awareness and brand boosting cum promotion to continue to appeal to your target market. Your corporate identity has a lot to do when it comes to building a business that is profitable and lasts long.
Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand awareness and create corporate identity for your snow cone shop business;
- Place adverts on both print (newspapers and food and drink magazines) and electronic media platforms
- Sponsor relevant community based events
- Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your snow cone shop business
- Install your billboards in strategic locations all around your city or state
- Engage in roadshows from time to time in targeted neighborhoods to create awareness of your snow cone shop business
- Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
- Contact corporate organizations, car owners, taxi companies, transport companies, households, sports organizations, gyms, schools, socialites, celebrities and other key stakeholders throughout the city where your snow cone shop is located, informing them about your snow cone shop business and the flavors of snow cones and ice desserts you sell
- List your snow cone shop business in local directories/yellow pages
- Advertise your snow cone shop business in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site.
- Position our Flexi Banners in strategic positions where your business is located.
- Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your vehicles and trucks/vans are well branded with your company logo et al.