Have the low profits of your ice cream business in winter months caused you to give up and list your ice cream cart for sale? Don’t throw in the towel on your mobile business yet!
As summer heat transitions into the chilly days of fall and winter, ice cream cart vendors begin their most challenging time of the year. During the cold months, the demand for frozen treats disappears faster than you can say “snowstorm!”
Luckily, it’s not all cold despair.
While these off-season months can be difficult, in this article, we explore the top 4 solutions to the most common challenges mobile ice cream businesses may face to remain profitable all year long.
Common Off-Season Challenges for Ice Cream Carts
During the winter, ice cream carts may face many challenges, such as low demand for cold treats and harsh weather conditions that will reduce foot traffic to even the most populated areas in the summer.
Dips in product demand, competition with indoor food vendors, and harsh or unpredictable weather can turn a once-profitable venture into a survival game.
Ice cream giant Ben & Jerry’s estimates that around 40% of their ice cream sales happen during the first 100 days of the summer, which highlights the importance for ice cream cart vendors to diversify their menu offerings for slower times.
Alternative Products for Ice Cream Carts to Sell in Winter
When potential ice cream business owners are searching for an ice cream cart for sale, they may not imagine selling anything but frozen treats. Unfortunately, maintaining profitable margins in the winter requires a bit of creativity and product diversification.
One of the best ways to continue to increase sales during the off-season is to add alternative products like hot beverages, soups, snacks, seasonal ice cream options, and ice cream-related merchandise.
In addition, finding alternative menu items that complement ice cream, like warm pie, cobbler, affogatos, and the like, is a great way to continue to sell regular menu items even when the weather is chilly.
Few things compare to a delicious, steaming hot beverage on a freezing cold day. That’s why hot drinks are an excellent addition to ice cream carts in the winter.
Vendors can consider hot drink options like apple cider, brewed coffee, affogato, hot cocoa, and tea. Offering seasonal flavors like pumpkin spice, eggnog, caramel apple pie, or peppermint is also a great way to attract new and return customers.
Pricing is essential when selling new menu items, so it is important to research costs each year and contact local businesses to source ciders or other ingredients.
Soups and Snacks
Another great option for ice cream tricycles to add to their menu in winter is soups and warm snacks. From bisques and broths to chowders and stews, there is a wide variety of soup options for customers. Other snack options to consider are hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches, pretzels, popcorn, cookies, donuts, and glazed nuts.
Offering both ice cream and soups or warm snacks in the winter months can ensure consistent business, bringing warmth and comfort to customers during the chilly times.
Vendors should remember that adding snacks or soups will change the type of equipment required to serve customers, such as stovetops or food warmers, so they should budget accordingly.
Seasonal Ice Cream Flavor Variations
As an ice cream cart, it’s essential to continue to offer delicious ice cream year-round, even if sales are lower in winter. Many people still like to indulge in their favorite ice cream year-round.
Ice cream bike vendors should add new, season-inspired ice cream flavors to the menu for a limited time, like pumpkin pie, candy cane, hot cocoa, toasted marshmallow, or gingerbread.
Ice Cream Related Merchandise
Selling ice cream-related merchandise like branded apparel, accessories, and novelty items is another way for ice cream tricycles to supplement income during the off-season.
Some things to consider are customized t-shirts, coffee mugs, hats, hoodies, jars of signature toppings or sauces, tote bags, and recipe books.
Holiday-themed accessories displayed in an eye-catching manner can also add charm and Instagramability to your ice cream cart. Aesthetically pleasing displays and decorations attract potential customers and offer more sales opportunities.
Importance of Marketing Ice Cream Carts During Off-Season
Letting customers know about an extended menu is crucial. Maintaining a solid marketing plan is essential for all small businesses, but especially for mobile ice cream shops in the winter. Using online marketing and offline strategies to attract customers will give an ice cream cart business a chance to flourish and be profitable during every off-season month.
Selling at seasonal events like pumpkin patches, fall festivals, and holiday celebrations will increase business visibility.
Utilize online marketing methods like social media, creative signage, email marketing, and running seasonal promotions.
Don't Put Your Ice Cream Cart For Sale Yet!
While winter may bring many challenges to mobile ice cream vendors, it is also an opportunity to get creative and expand menu offerings. Adding warm, seasonal food and drink items to an ice cream bike menu will help the entity survive and thrive.
Winter does not necessarily mean low sales and no customers. Enjoy exploring menu options that will excite current patrons and attract new customers. By understanding these challenges, vendors can better prepare to evolve and innovate, ensuring that business remains sustainable throughout the year.