Ice cream is one of South Africa’s favourite ways of cooling down in summer – nothing rounds off a hot summer’s day like sitting next to the pool with your favourite ice cream in hand! So, where do you begin? How do you get your own ice cream business up and going?
First off, you need to decide whether to invest in a franchise that is already established and successful or whether you’ll start from scratch and create your own independent ice cream shop. Remember that established franchises will supply you with guidelines on how to design your store, equipment to use and layout requirements to maintain the franchise’s image. If you start your own business, you have the say in how your store will look and operate. Think carefully!
You’ll need to do market research with regards to other ice cream shops in your area. Get to know your competition to see what you’re up against and set a higher standard. The more ice cream shops there are in your area, the more you’ll need to stand out. Try to be different than what is already being done in your area – if you are the same as everyone else, no customer will be motivated to walk past an ice cream shop to come to yours.
Research your target market. Gain access to statistics about the type of people living in your area and what kind of decisions they make. Create a marketing strategy that focuses on the people in your area that is most likely to buy ice cream. Make it impossible for them to resist your product!
Find out what legal requirements you need to comply to, for example, check if you need a business license. If you start a business that sells anything that can be consumed by a person, you’ll need permission from the Health Department. Make sure you have enough finances for a
start-up or apply for a business loan. Be sure to research matters like insurance, tax responsibilities and your responsibilities as an employer.
Have all these matters checked before going any further!
This is where the fun part begins! Start to create a list of the products you want to sell. This list will then help you identify what equipment you’ll need and what consumables you’ll need to have stocked in your shop. Think ice cream makers, cooling systems and display fridges all the way through to ice cream cones, plastic spoons, bowls, etc.
Start working on the layout of your shop. Be sure that the look and feel of your shop reflects the area that you’re located in – if you locate your shop in Sandton, make sure that your store emanates luxury. Remember to leave adequate space for your equipment that allows you to cater to the entire store if it should be filled with customers. If you are feeling uncertain, involve a professional equipment supplier to help you with the design of your business space in accordance with your product list.
Take all the information you’ve gathered and create your business plan. Include your target market, market research, design ideas, list of products and equipment, your financing options and forecasting for the first year. This business plan will allow you to get financing and is the blueprint on how to manage your business successfully.
Begin the building! Be sure to work with reputable companies that can supply you with high-quality equipment and raw products in order for you to produce the best possible products. Stay involved in the building process and make sure that the end product is what you planned for.
Start interviewing potential staff members for your new business. Make sure you’ve calculated how big your workforce needs to be and that you’ll be able to compensate them in accordance with the labour law. If you are not able to spend all your time at the shop, appoint a General Manager that you can trust to manage the store and keep your best interests at heart.
Plan your grand opening! Make use of social media to create excitement about your new store. Plan opening specials and special offers to get people interested in your new store. Stay involved in managing your store for the first few months until you have seen a trend in your sales.