Start Your Own Snow Cone Stand Business
How to start your own snow cone stand and enjoy a low-cost, high income business.
By Stephen Bush | 05/27/2013 | Entrepreneur Bulletin.com
A common sight especially in the US in the summer time are snow cone stands selling flavored treats that delight
kids and adults alike.
Just about everybody likes to enjoy a good snow cone once in a while, and kids, well they usually want one
as often as they can get it.
Since you’re reading this article you may have pondered at one time or another whether to start your own snow cone stand business and wondered how much money a snow cone stand can make. Entrepreneur minded people can hardly keep from it.
How much money can you make with a snow cone stand?
According to my research these stands can make a surprising amount of money if you position one in the right location. Profit margins on a snow cone run around 90% of the retail price and it’s usually an all-cash business!
Sounds incredible but with the right location snow cone businesses can net an owner operator $25,000, $50,000 and even $75,000 in a selling season!
Not bad for a business that’s relatively inexpensive to start as compared to most other businesses and may pay
for itself in the first summer of operation.
Ok, so how do you go about getting started in this business?
How to make your snow cone business legal.
Visit city hall where you live and find out what permits you’ll need and what the costs are. Also find out if they will allow you to establish a portable snow cone stand in your area. Some cities require a permanent structure for a business to operate in while others will allow a portable structure. What is and isn’t allowed in your area may significantly effect your startup costs.
Next, contact your local health department and find out what you’ll need to meet their codes for a snow cone business.
Then visit your county clerks office to find out what permits you’ll need from them and the fees for registering your business. You may need the business registration information when you open your business bank account.
Research business information from other snow cone stands in your area.
Take some time to watch how much customer activity is going on around other snow cone stands in your area. Observe when the volume of customers picks up and slows down and why?
Take note of the physical locations the stands are in and compare which locations are better and worse and why.
Are they portable or permanent structures, owner operated or by employees, and what are their hours of operation. Check their menus, cup sizes, and their prices.
Buy a snow cone from each location and see which you like better. What is it about your favorite one that you like? Is it the texture of the ice, the flavoring? If it’s the ice then what kind of snow cone machine ice shaver are they using, if the flavoring, where do they get it?
Take your family with you and find out what their favorites are. Do they agree with your favorite or do they like another?
When you walk up to the stands start a friendly conversation with the server but don’t let them know you’re a potential competitor and on a fact-finding mission. Be a little cunning about it. For example, to find out what flavors are the most popular you might preface your question with one of those “can’t make up your mind looks” prior to asking what do other people like the best? Be a good spy and keep your real objectives a secret!
All this information will be important when you begin selecting your own location, setting your hours, sizing and pricing your products, purchasing your snow cone machine and other equipment and choosing your suppliers.
How to find a good location for your snow cone stand business.
Your choice of location will be the most important decision you’ll make in setting up your snow cone business. The difference between a good and bad location can be huge. Choose carefully and don’t settle for a location that’s clearly not a good one. It may be better not to start the business if that poor location is the only possibility.
Remember that children and young people are your primary market, with emphasis on children.The best locations will pull from both pedestrian and automobile traffic with average traffic speed under 35 mph. The corner of a busy road and a road leading into a neighborhood area where a school is located is a likely winner.
Busy parks and playgrounds, tourist spots, and parking lots of malls and supermarkets are also potentially good locations.
It’s preferable to have a permanent structure with a drive through for your snow cone stand rather than a portable one. Having a drive through in addition to a walk-up window will add to your business volume. However, don’t pass up a perfect location because a permanent structure isn’t available. If a portable location is allowed at that location you should strongly consider setting up there.
Another way to engage in business with a portable location is to take advantage of carnival, parades, fairs, festivals and celebrations when they come around to your area, usually on an annual basis. However, the real money is in a location that’s ongoing through the warm sales season year in and year out.
Any location will have to have easy access, plenty of parking, electrical power, and city water supply is preferable.
Purchase Equipment You’ll Need For Your Snow Cone stand Business.
After you decide on your location and have it secured, it’s time to acquire the equipment you’re going to need.
If your location is going to operate out of a portable trailer you’ll need to decide on one to purchase.
Visit these sites to begin looking at some trailers:
Choosing your ice shaver or snow cone machine may be the second most important decision you’ll make in setting up your business and you may consider getting your snow cone machine and your trailer, if you’re going to buy one, from the same vendor.
Some snow cone machines make shaved ice with a grainy texture and they’re generally less expensive. Better snow cone machines make ice with a very fine fluffy texture and this type of ice is preferred by most people.
When it comes to buying your snow cone machine you’re better off in the long run buying the machines that make the more popular ice.
Here are some locations where you can look at different snow cone machines:
After buying your snow cone ice shaver you’ll need:
1) A cash register or something you can use for one.
2) A refrigerator for any perishables you may add to some of your flavors.
3) And a freezer to store your ice blocks.
Find the best Supplier of flavored syrup and other items you’ll need for your snow cone stand business.
First, go through the information you and your family gleaned from visiting other snow cone businesses concerning the flavors you liked the best and look to purchase those. You may find them from one of the suppliers I’ve listed above. And remember, the more flavors you have the better. People like to have a lot of choices.
Other things you’ll need include a mixing container for making your syrup, spoons for stirring, cups, a supply of pouring bottles for each flavor, napkins, and toppings such as cherries, strawberries, cream etc. you’ll keep in your refrigerator.
If you have an area to do it, setting up some picnic tables is a good idea. You might even get some large umbrellas to set up over them for shade.
How to attract customers to your snow cone stand business
If you choose your location well the customers will naturally come soon after you open for business. However, you may still want to “get the word out” to people who don’t know you’re there.
It shouldn’t be necessary to spend a lot of money on advertising because word of mouth travels pretty fast for good snow cones. But you could make up some flyers with your business name, location, flavors and prices and hand them out to everyone you sell snow cones to.
You can also put your flyers on the windshields of cars in supermarket and shopping center parking lots, or put them in people’s mail boxes. You may even put them up on bulletin boards in the schools.
The most important things to remember about dealing with your snow cone stand customers:
1) Treat them cordially. Never let them see or hear you without a smile and a friendly attitude.
2) Exceed their expectations with your product quality and with generous helpings.
3 Have a set “hours of operation” and keep to it. Don’t disappoint customers by being unexpectedly closed.
That should be enough information to get you started. I hope this article has been helpful to you in that regard. The rest you need to know you can learn as you go along and do your own research.
I sincerely wish you much success as you start your own snow cone stand business!
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