Getting into a mobile ice ream business can be confusing and overwhelming. There are so many options and not a lot of answers. When choosing a manufacture of ice cream trucks or trailers there are many factors which should be considered before making such a large investment.
Some key factors should be taken for consideration.
1. What kind of equipment is going into the truck? Being that your business is based on selling ice cream, you should want reputable ice cream equipment manufacture. Having any old machine just won’t do. You should be looking at a machine that will keep up with demand, produce a consistent, quality product. This could mean the difference between repeat customers or turning customers away because you can’t keep up with the demand. Have a look around at some national chains that serve frozen desserts. Those companies have spent hours or testing and countless dollars in research to make sure they have the best equipment and the most reliable service.
2. What kind of service can you get AFTER you purchase the ice cream truck or trailer? Make sure you are going to get service wherever you go. Ice cream machines can not be fixed by just any local refrigeration company. You might be traveling to different locations sometimes in different states. Find out how you will get service on weekends, nights, days and holidays. Will they come to you, or do you need to bring the vehicle to them? Will the service company have parts readily available or will you have to wait for them to be ordered?
3. How comfortable is the working area? You will be working in this area for long hours and mostly on nice days. Is there ample air conditioning? Is there an actual air conditioner that will keep up in hot humid conditions or they trying to use the vehicles air conditioner thinking it will keep up. Can you fit more then one person in the working area. Sometimes you will need help, especially if you plan on working heavy traffic venues like sporting events, music festival, air shows… Size matters! Don’t be fooled that the smaller the vehicles will be more versatile. You will need space for inventory, extra mix, and supplies. Make sure there is ample refrigeration and storage space.
4. Is there room for growing? when you first start out, usually there is a budget. But, as your company grows so will your menu. You should make sure there is room for other products to be added. Enough electrical outlets for additional equipment. Most commercial equipment can not run on power inverter. You will need to make sure there is “real” power available.
5. How is this ice cream equipment going to run? Find out if the equipment is going to run on a PTO (power take off) or generator? A power take off is limited to the vehicle engine power. This means that you will need to run the vehicles engine to make the ice cream equipment work. Think about would you really want to put extra strain on the one thing that is going to get you from location to location. If your vehicle engine stops working, you are out of business! You are also limited on power with a PTO, the engine can only put out so much electric, therefore leaving you a limited amount of “real” electricity and not much room for adding more equipment later on. Most PTO’s require a belt driven compressor. When is the last time you’ve seen a belt driven air conditioner? This would mean a special order compressor if it was ever to go bad and furthermore you would be out of business waiting for the part. Generators nowadays are fuel efficient and very quiet. choosing a truck with generator would be worth your investment.
6. Franchise or Independent? Choosing a franchise has its pros but it also has its cons. Having a well know name is great for an instant customer base. But you will pay for that customer base. Typically most franchises will take up to 38% of your profits right off the top. that means before you take your salary or wages. They make you purchase their products, give you a “route” or “territory”, and make you pitch in for advertising costs. being an independent company allows you to choose your company name, purchase your inventory where you want, (allowing you to get the best price to make the most profit), take your business wherever you’d like (as long as you have the proper permits), spend as little or as much as you like for advertising and most important, you keep ALL the profits!
Hope this helps and good luck at your new business venture!