Successful Ice Cream Truck Business

How to Start an Ice Cream Truck Business

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Children love ice cream trucks– the catchy tune, attractive truck design, and the urge to try the new flavor gets even the majority of adults.

But have you ever thought of being on the other side of the business? 

Starting an ice cream truck business can be one of the best choices for young and bright entrepreneurs.

The mobile ice cream truck business is flexible, highly scalable, and easily expandable. 

Now, if you are getting interested to learn more about starting an ice cream truck business, we have got you covered.

Today, we are going to show you how to start an ice cream truck business. So without further ado, let’s dive in.

Is Driving An Ice Cream Truck Right For You?

Handing out scoops to children and adults from a new ice cream truck or an old ice cream truck isn’t for everyone.

And that’s you first need to analyze if driving and starting an ice cream truck business is right for you or not. Keep up with us to check if you are the right person for the job.

Firstly, if you are into being your own boss and you can work for yourself consistently, then you can start an ice cream bus business. If you won’t be able to figure out answers to where to get ice cream truck supplies, what route to choose, and more, then this business isn’t for you.

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Next up, if you can’t adjust your current schedule to drive an ice cream truck, then you should drop the starting an ice cream truck business idea. Although setting up a local ice cream truck business is an excellent way to earn extra money, not everyone can fit it into their current routine.

Last and certainly not least, an ice cream truck business is a one-stop-shop to inviting annoyances and rowdiness. Why? It’s because the audience is mostly seven-year-old children who are sometimes cute but way too much annoying. So, if you can handle children with no issues and listen to children-friendly tunes for hours, you are in luck! 

Ice Cream Truck Business Statistics At-A-Glance

Start an Ice Cream Truck Business

Business Overview

Starting an ice cream truck business involves handling cute but sometimes annoying children, handing out tasty ice cream, and cruising around residential streets.

As cool ice cream trucks are mobile, they can offer services to pretty much any area. The grab-and-go service of the ice cream truck business makes it attractive and unique.

The ice cream truck business model is simple: you sell ice cream to clients and receive money. And thanks to the nature of business, the payments will be in cash.

Speaking of cash, you can charge customers between $1 to $4 dollars depending on the products you are selling. Premium products generate more revenue as they are mostly character-based; thus, it brings more customers.

Last and certainly not least, you can adjust the prices according to seasons, like making ice cream expensive in summer and cheap in fall, winter, and spring. 

Industry Trends

Just like other industries, the mobile ice cream truck industry is also changing. 

Back in the day, people weren’t too serious about the food they used to consume. But now, things have changed. According to Barry Callebaut, there’s increased demand for low-calorie ice creams that people can enjoy without worrying about their health.

That’s not it! People are also seeking ice cream options that have health-oriented ingredients like CBD, fiber, protein, probiotics, and more.

On the flip side, the ice cream bus industry is also seeing huge demand and popularity in other take-and-go options like milkshakes, potato chips, etc.

Target Market

Starting an ice cream truck business and deciding its dynamics hugely depends on the target market.

Depending on your target market, you’ll have to decide on ice cream flavors, planning your routes, picking a franchise or going independent, adopting a specialty, and everything in between.

For instance, if you are bounding your ice cream truck business to a beach or a popular place, you won’t have to set out an ice cream truck route. Similarly, if you are targeting a specific location, you’ll have to set the ice cream options, other addons, prices, and more according to the location.

Long story short, your decisions to set up your ice cream truck business will depend on your audience or target market.

Skills, Experience, And Education Useful In Running An Ice Cream Truck

Indeed, starting an ice cream truck business doesn’t require a college degree. But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy thing to do.

Here are some skills, experiences, and education milestones that will help you set up your ice cream bus.

Experience In Food Handling

If you have previously worked in the food industry, starting an ice cream truck business will get relatively easier for you. Why? It’s because this business will require an entrepreneur to understand food handling, safety procedures, food storage practices, and more.

Customer Service Skills

Half of your job owning and driving an ice cream bus will revolve around interacting with customers. And if you have strong customer service skills, you can easily make children and adults keep coming back to your bus.

Knowledge of Marketing

No matter how great you have set up every sector of your ice cream truck business, you won’t be able to cause a stir if you lack marketing knowledge. Make yourself decently knowledgeable about marketing, or hire an experienced marketing professional to do the job for you.

Basic Technical & Mechanical Skills

Your new ice cream truck business will undoubtedly face some backlash and problems one day or another, especially related equipment. However, if you possess basic technical and mechanical skills, you won’t have to scratch your head or call a professional technician to make things right again. 

Financial Overview

Annual ice cream truck revenue in the US alone is over $1,000,000,000. And the industry income has increased by around 8.4% in the past half a decade.

The average revenue generated per ice cream truck in the US is about $200,000. And the average spending per order on an ice cream truck is approximately $10.40. 

For those of you who are asking how much do ice cream truck drivers make, successful ice cream trucks make $200 to $300 per day or up to $1,000 on holidays. Not to mention, ice cream truck owners have reported an average monthly income of $5,000.

Skeptical about how much does an ice cream truck costs? Well, a used or old ice cream truck costs around $10,000 to $20,000. And a new ice cream truck costs around $60,000.

However, if you are looking forward to leasing or renting an ice cream bus, it can cost you around $1,500 to $2,000 per month, depending on your location.

Last and certainly not least, the average expenses of an ice cream bus tallies up to around $2,500 per month.

Starting An Ice Cream Truck Business

Ice Cream Truck

1. Choosing The Right Ice Cream Products

Before anything, you must first choose which ice cream products or types you are going to sell.

And even before that, you’ll need to pick if you are going to rely on a franchise or go independent.

Relying on franchises will give your business a boost as you’ll be riding on the success wave of a brand. However, choosing a franchise can be expensive for your business.

On the other hand, going independent has tons of advantages like you’ll be able to cut down expenses, be your own boss, etc. But you’ll have to grind hard for people to choose your ice cream over other renowned ice cream brands.

Last and certainly not least, you’ll have to pick whether you are going to sell ice cream novelties or soft/hard-serve ice cream.

2. Expense Calculation | Equipment Purchase

Starting an ice cream truck business requires zero to no start-up and labor costs. But just like any other business, you’ll need some equipment and figure out other expenses before you go all-in.

Here are some must-haves on a person expense-list when starting an ice cream truck business:

Buying/Leasing An Ice Cream Truck

Not surprisingly, you’ll first need to buy or lease an ice cream truck to start your mobile ice cream truck business.

A used ice cream truck business costs somewhere around $15,000 to $20,000. Whereas a new ice cream bus costs about $60,000.

Leasing an ice cream truck will cost you about $1,500 to $2,000, depending on your location.

Operating Expenses

Indeed, your ice cream truck will operate, and that comes with a set of operating expenses like gasoline, truck maintenance, equipment maintenance, and more.

Once you have set a route (more on that at the bottom), you’ll easily be able to calculate your operating expenses.

Permits, Licenses & Insurance

Starting an ice cream truck business comes with acquiring various permits, licenses, and insurance.

We’ll discuss more about licenses, permits, and insurance below to help you calculate the cost.

Ice Cream

Last and certainly not least is the ice cream itself. Whether you are franchising ice cream novelties, soft/hard-serve ice cream, or going independent, you’ll have to figure out the ice cream expenses.

3. Some Important & Legal Prerequisites

Acquiring Funding

Now that you have chosen the ice cream you are selling and your total expenses, its’s time to acquire funding.

After the previous two steps, financing is the most important task in starting an ice cream truck business. You’ll be required to apply for a business loan–and for that, you’ll need to have a good credit score.

Search for business loans around you that have the lowest interests and overall good plans. And once you have got the money, it’s time to choose a business entity.

Choosing A Business Entity

The most common business structure types are sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, and corporation.

Each entity type has its own pros and cons. Ask your attorney to advise you on the most suitable legal entity that’s suitable for your ice cream truck business. 

Although LLC would be the best choice business entity for starting an ice cream truck business, consulting your attorney would be the best choice as laws vary from state to state and city to city.

Register Your Business And Obtain Federal & State Tax ID Numbers

Once you have chosen a business entity, it’s time to pick a name for your business and register your business to obtain federal and state tax ID numbers.

And for that, you can apply for the EIN or Employer Identification Number online for free using the IRS website. But we’ll recommend hiring an attorney or an agent to do all the heavy lifting for you.  

4. Permissions & Licenses

Starting an ice cream truck business isn’t simple–you’ll have to obtain multiple necessary licenses and permits.

Firstly, you’ll need to apply for a local standard business license and permit from your town/state/city. Check for local officials and local food departments to get a full list of necessary licenses and permits for your ice cream truck business.

However, here are some licenses and permits you’ll surely need to operate your ice cream bus business:

    • Health Inspection Permit: You can apply for a health inspection permit by contacting your local health department.
    • Business License: Contact your local municipality for ice cream truck requirements.
    • Driver’s License: Visit your nearest local motor vehicle department and ask for the requirements to operate your ice cream truck.
  • Food Handler Certificate
  • Proof Of Ownership, Proper Identification & Vehicle License
  • Fire Certificate
  • Depot, Commissary Or Service Support Facility Meets Vending Unit Operation Needs
  • Food Purchase Record Storage & Record Keeping
  • Proof Of District-Issued Food Manager Identification Card 

5. Last but not least: “Business Insurance”

Just like permits and licenses, your business will need insurance coverage to operate correctly and lawfully.

If you are unsure about which insurance coverage you should buy for your ice cream truck business, ask your attorney.

However, here are some basic insurance coverage plans that are ideal for an ice cream bus business:

    • Professional Liability Insurance: This insurance keeps you safe from property damage, medical expenses, libel, slander, or other claims.
    • Product Liability Insurance: What if your product ends up taking an individual’s life or affecting their health? The product liability insurance will keep you safe from all such mishaps.
    • Commercial Auto Insurance: If your ice cream truck got involved in an accident, fire, theft, or anything like that, commercial auto insurance will be there for you.
    • Worker’s Compensation: So you hired an employee, but he or she got injured or ill during the job? Worker’s compensation will cover medical costs and disability benefits for the employees.
  • General Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Kitchen Insurance
  • Overhead Expense Disability Insurance
  • Business Owner’s Policy Group Insurance
  • Motor Vehicle Insurance (Comprehensive)

How Much Can You Potentially Make Owning an Ice Cream Truck?

Ice Cream Truck Design

According to one survey of average yearly profits on ice cream truck businesses, owners of the businesses were able to generate about $5,000 a month by working just 20 days per month.

Surely, a survey doesn’t fully reflect your personal business venture. But it gives you a rough idea of how your journey will turn out to be.

If you have done everything right, from creating a reliable business plan to investing in good equipment, legalizing your business, and picking perfect routes, you can easily earn somewhere around $5,000 per month on average.

Not to mention, in holidays and in the summer season especially, you can expect to generate up to $7,000 per month easily. Lastly, the more you work, the more you earn.

Advertise Your Ice Cream Truck Business

A business can’t be successful without being handsomely advertised via various mediums.

Undoubtedly, creating a custom ice cream truck tune and picking an attractive ice cream truck design are incredible steps to advertise your business. But that’s not enough. You’ll need more than that.

Firstly, you can set up special discounts and offers to lure customers from different walks of life. Next up, you can set up local billboards to advertise why people should be looking out for your ice cream bus.

Implementing ice cream truck ideas like using bright colors, cartoon graphics art, and models of famous characters can easily make people remember your ice cream truck for months.

Last and certainly not least, here are two methods we personally find pretty intriguing when it comes to advertising your ice cream bus business.

Plan Your Ice Cream Truck Route

Plan your ice cream truck route and stick to it for a handsome amount of period until you get recognizable enough. And then, you can expect the kids and their parents to market your business via good old word-of-mouth marketing.

If you don’t want to stick to a route, print out flyers of your business and leave them on your way to make people aware of your business.

And most importantly, stop by schools, hospitals, in your route as your business will be seen and recognized by a bunch of people all at once.

Embracing Social Media 

One of the hottest ways to advertise your ice cream truck business is to embrace social media.

Use the power of social media to reach not only people around you but to potential customers from other states and cities. And that can help you to expand your business with ease when the time is right.

Establish a website, Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram feed to stay in touch with your customers. Regularly update your social media with exciting news and posts to interact with your customers.

And yeah! Don’t forget to run contests, quizzes, and more to bring an ample amount of audience to your social media pages.

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