How To Open an Ice Cream Shop: 6 Steps to Sweet Profits

Marketing 21 minute read 6th September 2023

Ice cream is the one dessert that can never get old. Therefore, planning to start an ice cream shop is not a bad idea. However, you must be wondering how to open an ice cream shop in such a competitive industry.

People are becoming more fond of the unique flavors of sugary cold cups. Moreover, entrepreneurs enter the market with the wrong expectations and disappear quickly. So to start such a business, you need extensive planning. The reason is you must stand out in the already soaking world of the ice cream business.

If you are having issues planning your ice cream startup, this article is for your aid. Here you can learn the costs and steps for the subject of how to open an ice cream shop.

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Analyze First: Is Opening an Ice Cream Shop Even Worth the Hassle?

If you are hesitating to take the first step to open up an ice cream shop, then keep reading. Ice cream has a long history of likeness as a dessert.

According to the global market insight, the ice cream industry in the U.S. alone will expand by 5.5% in the coming years. The same insight concludes that the industry made around 1.5 billion USD in 2020. So there is certainly room for your ice cream business. Now let’s take a closer look at the practical aspect of the benefits that come with the ice cream business.

Firstly, if your concern with how to open an ice cream shop is profit margin, you’re worrying for no reason. The ice cream business can make fantastic profits because the ice cream ingredients come at a low cost.

The second perk of the ice cream business is it is never out of season. People enjoy ice cream even in the coldest of winters. For this reason, your business will not be on hold at any point during the year.

Also, the purchasing rate increases during holidays. Therefore, you can make fantastic profits during these days. If you place your shop in the right place, the footfall will massively affect your returns.

However, like every startup, an ice cream shop also comes with challenges. One of the challenges is the need to add creative flavors to stand unique in your target market.

The other hurdle in launching and sustaining a successful ice cream business might be a lack of community engagement. Therefore, consider every aspect and make a good marketing strategy.

With that said, if you overcome the challenges effectively, an ice cream shop can definitely be worth the hassle.

Let’s Talk Numbers: How Much To Open an Ice Cream Shop?

Now comes the slightly difficult yet important part of how much to open an ice cream shop. When you are calculating the numbers, keep your mind and pocket open.

To establish a good ice cream business, you are not only going to buy ingredients. There is so much that goes into the background, such as location, equipment, staff, and more.

As a rough estimate, it will cost you around $20000-$40000 to open an ice cream shop. However, this isn’t a certain number, so let’s break down the necessities you would need to invest in.

Starting with the building cost, let’s look at the statistics. The average rate of industrial space in the U.S. is $11.5 per square foot. Now, add the size of your establishment to the $11.5 and do the math.

After the property, take a look at the interior design and furniture cost. A single set of chairs and tables can cost you $100 to $500.

Then come the ice cream makers and freezer for your setup. A commercial ice cream maker will take $3000 to $5000 from your account.

The other elements are utensils and some decoration items. You can find a local market that gives wholesale rates on these pieces of equipment.

Lastly, some legal hurdles also stand in your way in the form of food handling licenses and building permits. For these, you will need to contact the local government and see the fees for such documentation.

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Fund Your Dream of Serving Ice Cream: Fulfill the Costs Effectively

You found the costs in the previous section about how to open an ice cream shop. However, if you are at a high cost and want some budget cuts, the following steps will help.

  1. Find an investor: If you think you can not pay for the startup money, look for investors. Any person or organization that shares your passion or backup small business will help.
  2. Online advertisement: Digital marketing is extremely important for small businesses. Especially if you are just starting, online promotions cost less than offline channels. If you promote via the internet, you will not have to print costly menus or pay for billboard ads.
  3. Minimal is sufficient: To avoid extra spending, focus on the critical part of your business success. Focusing more on taste and less on luxury decor while keeping a theme is important.
  4. Supplier negotiations: A good businessman has the ability to talk and trade with his suppliers. This is very important for getting discounts and payment extensions.

How To Open an Ice Cream Shop: 6 Steps to Scoop Out Sweet Success

If you are still unable to understand the tricks of how to open an ice cream shop, here’s your answer. It can be overwhelming to grasp the idea fully, but the right guidance can work wonders.

The implementation of the plan you make is even more demanding because there is so much to do. However, if you want to make things rewarding, give a try to the following steps.

These steps will decrease the likelihood of stumbling in the process and provide a simple yet rational way to success.

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Step #1 To Open an Ice Cream Shop: Nothing Good Comes Without Research

Knowing the background of any business is the first step to victory. You must understand the working ground of the ice cream industry. This area includes knowing the type of competition you will face in the market.

The first thing is to decide the type of shop you want. There are many options to choose from, such as ice cream trucks, creamery, sorbet, water ice, etc. You can also choose if you want a seasonal startup or a permanent ice cream business.

Once you have decided on the course of your ice cream business, do research on the respective topic.

The research will also help you take a page out of the book of already-established ice cream shops.

Moreover, it will give you an overview of what you are diving into and the possible challenges during the ride. Therefore, research is fundamental to crack how to open an ice cream shop and the essentials that come with it. Preparing yourself beforehand and setting the right attitude are the perks of researching first.

Step #2 To Open an Ice Cream Shop: Don’t Forget To Plan and Brand

After you know how to open an ice cream shop, plan to brand and launch the business.

Making a business plan will help you put everything into perspective. You’ll have an eagle’s eye view of everything you need before starting. But the burning question is, what should this business plan include?

Firstly, have an executive summary. This section will encompass everything your plan will cover. In other words, it’s a fancy table of contents with a descriptive structure.

Secondly, dedicate some space for your company’s strategies and the path it plans to take.

Creameries and ice cream shops perform better when they act upon a theme or concept. Therefore, pen down your concept and a menu that relates to it. This article will touch upon these aspects later.

Moreover, mark your management structure. Without a proper hierarchy, your business is at risk of collapse due to inorder. Decide on the partners, managers, and executives and assign their roles for effective operation.

Next comes the module for staffing. How many waiters would you need? What other positions are necessary? Answering these questions will set the tone for your hiring process. However, forgetting your competitors is never a wise step. So analyze what they’re doing, jot it down in the plan, and proceed.

Furthermore, you need unique branding to set yourself apart. So give thought to how you would like your audience to perceive you.

Without this information, you will set your business up for failure as the brand strategist won’t have a direction. Also, the plan should include your preferred marketing campaigns and mediums to reach your customers.

Include projections about your ice cream shop’s success as a last step. This will set a goal and help you take calculated steps.

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Step #3 To Open an Ice Cream Shop: Locate Yourself in the Right Place

Once you have a business plan in hand, you will have a clear view of how to open an ice cream shop. From there, you can pinpoint a location and start working towards your goal.

However, you cannot blindly choose a famous ice cream shop location. Instead, consider the type of ice cream shop you chose to open earlier and form your location planning on that.

For example, if you want an ice cream truck, you must choose a place with more foot traffic. Ice cream trucks are usually present in amusement parks, funfairs, and tourism spots.

But if you want a kiosk shop, choose a location with more customers and less competition. You want to give customers control but don’t want to confuse them with too many options.

Moreover, beaches are the hotspots for ice cream shops, while malls are at an advantage in winter. So also consider the weather when choosing your location.

Step #4 To Open an Ice Cream Shop: Obtain the Licenses, Invest the Funding

The last thing you want when starting a new business is to take trips to the lawyer. So the next step is to obtain all the necessary licenses and permits to avoid legal complications.

The best way to approach this step is to check local laws and seek legal guidance. However, here are a few standard requirements.

Firstly, the doors to open an ice cream shop will remain closed without a business license. All businesses have to obtain this whether they like it or not.

Secondly, you would need building permits to make your dream concrete. But if you’re opening a food truck, don’t dwell on this permit.

Health permits make an appearance in all situations involving food. These permits make sure that the food you’re providing won’t play with your audience’s health. But check with your lawyer on this, as each country has different regulations.

Moreover, you would be a seller after opening an ice cream shop. So you must expect the requirement of a seller’s permit. Also, this permit grants you the chance to help your country through taxes.

And lastly, US businesses need a distinct Employee Identification Number to initiate the hiring process.

Once you get a hold of the licenses, set the task of buying equipment in motion. This includes the necessary utensils and technology, such as POS systems.

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Step #5 To Open an Ice Cream Shop: The Perfect Menu Doesn’t Come Out of the Blue

This is where you set your research from the first step in action. As mentioned earlier, many aspects of how to open an ice cream shop depend on the type of dessert you want to serve. The same is true for a menu.

However, don’t limit yourself when creating one. Add other related items that your target audience would be fond of. Suppose you choose gelato and make an example menu for ease.

Start with the classic variety of ice cream; vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. Having these universal gelato flavors will make your customers a fan.

For seasonal options, opt for Mango Delight, Watermelon Adventure, and Peach Fusion in summer.

But as mentioned earlier, the ice cream business doesn’t die in winter. So have Apple Autumn Crisp, Toasty Hazelnut Harmony, and Caramel Espresso Affair in winter.

Moreover, populate your menu with toppings that go well with each flavor. And to have a variety, offer gelato shakes, brownies, cookies, and other desserts on the side.

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Step #6 To Open an Ice Cream Shop: Make It Look Good Before Hiring a Team

Following this last step, you’ll be all set to launch your ice cream business. While interior design may not seem a priority, choosing a theme can tip the scale in your favor.

People are always after unique experiences. By providing one, you can tie them with your brand with an invisible rope. Therefore, it’s time to fill your mind with ideas for themes so you can start on the right foot.

The simplest way to tackle this is by choosing a single color. Paint everything in that color to create a cohesive environment. Consequently, your venue will become a magnet for photo nerds.

Moreover, you can choose a particular way to decorate your ice cream. For example, serve ice cream with a mountain of toppings.

Alternatively, follow the footsteps of La Casa Gelato and serve a huge variety of flavors.

But who would serve these flavors if you don’t have a team? So hire individuals with communication skills, personality, and a knack for hospitality. Here, our discussion on how to open an ice cream shop comes to an end.

Making Your Sweet Dreams a Reality Isn’t That Hard!

Regardless of age, you’ll rarely find people who don’t like ice cream. Hence, managing to open an ice cream shop might be an awesome lasting business.

Understanding your audience, industry, and target market are the first steps to bring victory. Creating a concept, menu, and branding are close behind. Following these steps is fairly easy, provided you have the necessary information.

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