6 Steps on How to Start a Shaved Ice Business
Starting any business can be as easy or as hard as you make it. A shaved ice business is no exception. You might have a few hurdles to jump over, but your hard work will be rewarded with a successful snow cone operation! There are no definitive rules outlining exactly how to start a shaved ice business, but we're here to help move you in the right direction.
STEP 1: Do your research and check out our resource center - Shaved Ice University
Visit SIU and step through the archive of articles, on getting started in the snow cone, snowball or shaved ice business. With decades of experience, we've put together articles that range from choosing a machine to figuring out which products to sell and deciding how to select the ultimate sales location.
STEP 2: Contact your Local Health Department and Zoning Board
Before you start investing your time and money into this new business venture, you'll need to contact your local health department and zoning board. There may be regulations on starting this type of business in your area. Some towns, cities, and counties consider shaved ice to be a food item or a consumable, where others do not. After doing your research, we recommend calling your local health department. Obviously, you don't want to start purchasing your business essentials if your town doesn't allow the sale of shaved ice. You'll also need to contact your local zoning board, to see if any special permits are needed for your location. At this time, you'd want to decide whether you're going to be a mobile shaved ice stand or a brick and mortar store.
STEP 3: Determine your Location
This will probably be the most important step when starting your business. Determining a good location is key. You want enough foot traffic to generate a good amount of business throughout the day. An ideal location would be at the corner of two intersecting highways or busy streets with a nearby neighborhood. Also, check and see if there are any competing shaved ice businesses in that area.
STEP 4: Getting your Machine
You must have a machine to start a shaved ice business. There are 2 types of machines - cube ice shavers and block ice shavers. Block ice shavers use large, solid blocks of rectangular or cylindrical ice. This is important to remember because you will need to make your own ice if you cannot find a local ice distributor. This can play a major role in your machine choice. The cube ice shavers use cubes of ice that are typically 1 inch in size and can be found readily available at local grocery and convenience stores - making the cube ice shaver a hassle-free option. The only drawback with a cube ice shaver is it will not produce the finest and fluffiest like the block ice shavers. Check out the differences between the two types of machines to help in your decision.
Deciding how to theme your business is also essential. Marketing this type of business (or any business) is highly important. You want to choose a theme that is attractive and eye-catching to draw in more customers. From a Hawaiian theme to a chilly, cold theme, the possibilities are endless.
STEP 6: Developing your Customer Base
In general, people who see your vibrant and well-built stand or trailer will come when you display your open sign. However, it is very important to take extra steps in marketing your new business to the public. When you are ready to open, contact the local chamber of commerce so they know a new business is opening in town. We also recommend contacting someone at your local news outlets. They will often do news stories on newly-established self-owned businesses in the area. In addition, we recommend doing a free tasting on the first day you open. This is a good way to kick off your customer base from the beginning and encourage them to keep coming back. Another great idea is to implement customer loyalty cards and other customer appreciation offers to continue growing your customer base.