How to Start a Snow Cone Business

One of the traditional treats of summer is the snow cone. The shaved ice with flavored syrup is a treat enjoyed by young and old alike. By knowing how to start a snow cone business, you’ll be able to take advantage of the heat to provide a sweet treat, but the modern entrepreneurial spirit will take their business to the next level. Winter might be cold, but it’s still a good time for a snow cone if they are presented in an attractive way.

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Snow cone businesses typically have better profit margins and more stability than other business opportunities. They can be run from a kiosk or cart, but a permanent location can help to pave the way to easier operations. If you’re ready to start your own business and want something that is affordable and relatively easy to create, then this is the business opportunity for you.

Here’s what you need to know to get your snow cone business started.

1. Deal With the Legal Issues First

Believe it or not, there are some communities that won’t permit a snow cone business to operate. Other communities will let this type of business operate from a permanent location, but not from a kiosk or a stand. You’ll need to contact your local administrative office, discuss what health department inspections your equipment will need, and get licensed through your local taxing office.

Be prepared to setup appointments to discuss your needs instead of talking over the phone about them. Each service that is required typically has a fee associated with it.

2. Getting Started Means Standing Out

Most snow cone businesses talk to wholesalers or distributors about how to stand out and that’s a big mistake. Distributors and wholesalers are in business to make money too and they’ll sell you the products that have their own biggest profit margin. That’s often why every snow cone operator in a community has the same menu of products.

To stand out, you’ll need to look at the size of your cups that you offer, the menu flavors that you have, and what prices you plan to charge. Most new businesses can get away with just one person serving the customers, but you’ll need to look at competitive salaries and benefits as a future potential cost. The better you pay others, the more variety you have, and the quality of your product – this all help you to effectively stand out.

3. Secure a High Traffic Location

Don’t be fooled by the idea that a snow cone business is a lot like an ice cream shop or a candy store. These businesses can be located virtually anywhere and people will go to the because they are a destination business. Snow cones, on the other hand, are more of an impulsive purchase. If it’s a hot day and someone is thirsty, if your product is the first thing they see, then you’re going to get a sale more often than not.

You will need to study certain patterns of behavior in your community to make sure you get into a high traffic location.

  • Look for places in your community where automobile, bicycle, mass transit, and pedestrian traffic all tend to converge.
  • Having a corner location tends to give this business type better exposure than mid-block locations as the corner location encourages more impulse purchases.
  • Buildings with a drive-thru already installed may expand additional business opportunities.
  • Having a location that is too big is always better than having one that is too small.

4. Your Equipment Matters

All you really need to get started us a high quality ice shaver and a place to store flavors, cups, and extra supplies. Your biggest expense should be on the ice shaver because that one piece of equipment dictates the quality of the snow cone you’ll create. You’re also going to need a reliable freezer so that you can store ice inventories.

5. The Right Flavors Matter and You Can Make Your Own

A good place to get started is to purchase pre-mixed flavors that you can put directly into a snow cone. You can get started with just 2-3 flavors if you want, but there is a direct correlation to the amount of flavors that you offer and the amount of sales that you’ll receive. It’s also possible to purchase syrup concentrate and make your own gourmet flavors, which may attract more customers to your location.

Your supplier of cups and other supplies will often have flavor concentrates for sale as well. Make sure that you’ve got dispensing containers to accurately put the right amount of flavoring into the snow cone and that you have spoons and paddles on hand for scooping. If you plan on mixing flavors for customers, you’ll need separate containers to make that happen.

6. Now You’re Ready to Start Finding Some Customers

If you’ve got a sign that indicates what your business provides, then people will come to it. Snow cones are a known, familiar product that many people love. You’ll also want to promote your business through flyers, advertisements, or even setting up shop near a busy pedestrian thoroughfare to hand out samples. If you continue to promote yourself on a regular basis, have unique products, and provide consistency, then you’ll have a business venture that can continue to grow year after year.

Why choose to get into the snow cone business? Because the profit margins are ridiculously huge. A 16 ounce snow cone will typically sell for about $3. Out of that price, about $2.70 of it is pure profit that goes into your bank account. On a warm day with the right location, you could sell several thousand snow cones.

Knowing how to start a snow cone business isn’t very complicated. You just need to secure your supplies, find a good location, and then start talking to customers. In doing so, you’ll be able to establish a business venture that can provide you with an ongoing source of profits.