Ice cream has been popular throughout the UK for many years, especially in the summer, and starting your own ice cream business can be very rewarding as long as you do plenty of research and create a comprehensive business plan before you start.
Firstly, you need to decide on your location; the seaside is an obvious favourite, although close to parks or beauty spots can also be good choices. Even the high street can be a suitable location as long as you check out other similar businesses in the area and ensure you can be competitive.
Franchises are often available for ice cream businesses, and they give you plenty of help and support in setting up and promoting your business. The downside is that they can be expensive, and you will not stand out from the crowd as you would as an independent trader. If you opt for independence, you have more freedom to choose your ingredients, décor and how much money to invest.
Decide on Your Focus
Different products can suit different locations; for example, concentrating on natural and organic ice cream or low-fat frozen yoghurt can pay off if you are located in an area where healthy living is highly regarded and promoted. If there are lots of health-food and whole-food shops in the area, you can be pretty sure that “healthy” ice cream will be well received.
Design and Equip Your Premises
Contact your local authority to establish their requirements and then cost out your equipment and any adjustments that need to be made to the premises, such as adding wash-rooms. Refrigeration equipment can be obtained from suppliers such as acecc.co.uk who are a Air conditioning Gloucester company. Remember that you will also need appropriate lighting, insect and rodent control and ventilation as well as walk-in coolers and freezers, prep tables, storage shelves, pasteurisers and mixers. Dairy Science Info gives detailed technical information about the processes involved in ice cream production and the machinery and equipment you will need. Advice regarding applying for a government grant to help with setting up your business is available from Small Business.
Work Out Your Costs
Once you know what kind of ice cream you will be selling, you can work out what the ingredients will cost and what you will need to charge in order to make a profit and remain competitive. You also need to know what volume of ice cream you will need to sell to cover your fixed costs, bearing in mind that this is a seasonal business and the majority of your trade will be through the summer months. To compensate for this, many ice cream sellers decide to sell other items such as coffee and waffles, doughnuts or crepes so that they are less reliant on ice cream sales. Alternatively, if your business is profitable enough during the summer months you may prefer to close for an extended period in the winter and take your holiday then.
Taking the plunge and investing in your own ice cream business requires a lot of commitment and hard work, but it can also be very rewarding in terms of work-life balance once you have established the company.