Operating Your Shaved Ice or Snow Cone Business
|Products Sold The main product that your business will sell will be shaved ice or snow cones. Customers will be able to choose from 20 to over 70 flavors in most shaved ice stands. Variations of shaved ice flavors might include creamers or mixers.|
Some businesses will add shaved ice as a sideline item to their existing businesses. Shaved ice is very popular at ice cream parlors, smoothie bars, coffee shops, concession stands and convenience stores.
Besides shaved ice or snow cones, there are a number of products that you can sell at your business location. You may also try selling lemonade, soft drinks, milk shakes, pickles, ice cream, sundaes, banana splits, bagged potato chips or candy. Some businesses also offer hot items such as funnel cakes, sandwiches or pretzels.
What items you sell will depend primarily on your location, the setup and size of your business. Remember however, that the more items you sell, the more inventory and equipment you have to have. The increase of items will demand that you and your employees will have more to learn and keep up with. We have found that usually the additional headaches do not always equal additional profits.
We tried keeping our menu simple by only offering shaved ice (45 flavors) and hand dipped ice cream (4 flavors). We also offer a number of toppings, creamers and mixers. We feel that by keeping our menu simple, our customers could make their decision much easier and faster. In addition, our employees worked much more efficient by keeping our business simple.
|Do you need a Franchise?We are asked all the time whether or not a franchise is needed to operate and operate a shaved ice or snow cone business. Our answer is NO! We feel that almost anyone, if they work hard enough, can have a successful shaved ice or snow cone business without franchising. Our company does not sell franchises nor do we require contractual agreements to be signed by our customers. There are no special fees and no territories to buy. Also our prices are not artificially inflated to collect a “franchise” fee. You can buy directly from us and sell under any name that you choose, even Hawaiian Shaved Ice, the most common name used.|
By owning your business independently, you will have better control over your prices, your product line and business management. Often franchisers will only let you sell certain products or require your location or business to meet certain requirements. You may have to pay yearly franchise fees or even a portion of your sales to the franchiser for the right to operate under their brand name. In addition, we have found that many of the franchise companies require you buy almost all of your supplies through from them at inflated prices. In then end, most franchisers profit double from your business.
|The Season Because shaved ice tends to sell better in warmer climates, the shaved ice season for each part of the United States will be different.|
Shaved ice businesses along the southern part of the United States will generally be open from March to October. The mild winters and warm summers make states like Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona are great for lengthy shaved ice seasons. In fact, in some places, shaved ice businesses stay open year round because of mild winters.
In the mid to upper part of the United States, shaved ice businesses generally open between April to October. The farther north you go, the shorter the season. But with almost any rule, there are exceptions. After a little experience in the business, you will have a better understanding of your area.
There will be a couple of things that you will need to keep in mind to help you deciding on the length of your shaved ice or snow cone season. First of all, take a look to see when the other shaved ice businesses, if any, in your area open? We suggest to opening around the same time if not sooner than your competition. We have found that after a long winter’s break, customers from previous seasons are always eager to celebrate the new season with their first shaved ice purchase. The first three to four weeks of our season tends to always be the busiest.
In early spring, some businesses may begin to open only on weekends. After a few weeks, or until warmer weather sets in, these shaved ice or snow cone businesses often begin to open daily. This again will be up to you and your geographic area.
|Business Hours We have found that established regular business hours are one of the most important practices needed for any successful shaved ice or snow cone business. It is imperative that your customers know when they can expect you to be open. If you need to take one day a week off do, however establish this early in the season. Do not make the mistake of opening your shaved ice business occasionally or only when you feel like it. In addition, always be open whether it is sunny or rainy. Even on a rainy day, we often do enough business to make profit. You can always bring a book, do some extra cleaning, work on paperwork or plan you next advertising campaign. Whatever the weather make sure you stick by your hours so that your customers will know that they can count on you to be open. This is extremely important!|
What time you open and close daily will also depend on your location. Some shaved ice businesses near high traffic highways, open as early as 10 AM and close as late as 10 PM. We suggest checking other shaved ice businesses in your area to see their hours. Check with other neighboring businesses to see when they open and close. Also, take a look at what else is located in your area. Are their schools, baseball fields or shopping centers? Find out their schedules and try to set your hours accordingly.
|Locations There is a saying that the three most important rules with real estate is location, location, location. This could not be truer for your shaved ice business. Below is a list of possible locations for your shaved ice or snow cone business. |
- High traffic areas such as parking lots of local shopping centers, super markets or malls. You may also be able to operate your business inside one of these locations.
- High traffic roadside locations with easy access.
- Special events such as ball games, carnivals, fairs, rodeos, parades, festivals or any other event that draws crowds usually have great sales volume.
- Ball parks
- Daily mobile routes conducted at established hours with stops at local swimming pools, ball parks, workplaces or neighborhood
- Contract vending work – Company Family Picnics, Car Lot promotions, Grand Openings of local businesses, Youth Days
- Tourist Areas.
|Employees Hopefully, you will be busy enough to need additional employees. Besides, everyone, including the boss, needs time off every once in awhile!|
As with any business, employees can make or break you. Be very selective when choosing employees. Make sure they share your dedication. You can have the best shaved ice in the world, but one bad employee can destroy your business.
Over the years we have been fortunate to employ several high school and college students during the summer. You may want to consider looking at family members or close friends for help. Contact teachers at your local high school for suggestions on students in your area who may be looking for a summer job. Make sure the people you hire work well with others and that you are confident they will benefit your business. Personality is an important quality due to the fact that he or she will be interacting with your customers on a daily basis. You can teach anyone how to shave ice, but it’s extremely difficult to teach someone how to be friendly and courteous to your customers.
Generally we paid our employees anywhere from minimum wage to $9.00 an hour. Again, this will depend on your area. We usually based the wage on experience and responsibilities. The longer an employee worked with us the more we paid him or her. Good employees are hard to come by, so once you find a good employee, pay him or her accordingly.
Depending how many employees you hire, you may be required to take payroll taxes out of their paycheck. This will require some
|Record Keeping Daily record keeping is a necessity in order to keep track of your sales and expenses. It will be necessary to keep up with daily sales, sales tax owed, expenses, payroll and payroll taxes. Good, accurate books will prove to be beneficial when you prepare your taxes at the end of the year.|
You can purchase an accounting ledger book at a local office supply store for around $15.00. If you have access to a computer, QuickBooks is a great software program to help with record keeping.
Talk with your accountant about the best method to keep your records organized. Your accountant can also give advice on how to best setup your payroll system. He or she should be able to advise you about the taxes you will need to withhold from employee’s paychecks and where to submit those taxes.