Top 5 Ways to Make Your Ice Cream Truck Profitable

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Are you ready to get your ice cream truck business started? When you’re in business for yourself, you’re the boss and that requires discipline. It takes tenacity and the willingness to get up every day and drive your truck no matter the weather or how tired you are.

It also requires come ingenuity, continually coming up with ways to make your ice cream truck profitable. To help, we thought we’d share the top five ways to make your ice cream truck profitable.

ice cream truck

Step One: Get that Entrepreneurial Spirit!

To be successful in any business you need to have the grit to follow through on your research, develop an effective business plan, and stick with it. Even on those days when you are tired or it’s extremely hot outside, you must have the willingness to get out there and sell your ice cream.

Grit is a natural byproduct of entrepreneurship and they go hand-in-hand. University of Pennsylvania psychologist Angela Duckworth defined grit as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.

Duckworth’s research indicates that success doesn’t depend on talent. It depends on intensely focusing on a goal with passion and perseverance.

Meaning that even if you have a talent for a specific type of job or work it does not invariably believe that you’ll succeed. Grit and perseverance is an essential ingredient in a profitable business. This is where you decide to pick up after making a mistake, learning from that mistake, and moving on.

Step Two: Gather the Right Equipment & Needed Supplies

To succeed you’ll have to have all the right equipment, insurance, and more. The resources required also include how you’ll collect payment and having enough supplies on hand.

Choose the Right Ice Cream Truck

You’ll need the truck of course. This is where your business takes place, no matter where it’s parked. When purchasing a truck consider the safety items that are required, and test drive the vehicle. Trucks are available for purchase or lease, check both options to decide the right choice for you. Trucks are available for $10,000 to $20,000 for purchase. If you decide to lease an ice cream truck, the costs range from $1500 to $2000/month.

Buy The Right Insurance

Insurance is required for your new ice cream truck business. You’ll need a commercial auto insurance policy that includes liability insurance, physical damage coverage, medical payments, and uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. A Business Owner, Personal Liability, Product Liability, or General Liability insurance policy will provide you with additional protection. If you plan to have an employee, you will have to have Workers’ Compensation and unemployment insurance.

Refrigeration System

You’ll have to have a refrigeration system to keep your product at the right temperature. Before choosing a system, consult with the health department in your area for any regulations that are in place. The most common option is the cold plate freezer.

Point of Sale System

When searching for a POS, look for a system that was designed for the mobile food industry. It needs to be reliable so you can keep the lines moving but also offers real-time tracking so you can make decisions quickly based on recent data. Check if you can track inventory and, of course, accept credit and debit cards.

Consider alternate POS systems like Square or Stripe that have several types of payment methods including subscriptions models to help with recurring revenue.

Be sure to track the fees that might include transaction fees, monthly fees, and fees for the needed equipment. Depending on your merchant, these fees can add up quickly.

Also, be sure to check the fine print of your contract. Look out for any long-term agreements that extend past the 1 or 2-year mark as well as cancellation fees.

Food Service Supplies

You’ll need to be able to serve your ice cream in cups and have the spoons and napkins your customers need. Be sure to buy your spoons and napkins in bulk to help with costs. Consider warehouse stores like Costco or restaurant-specific distributors. You’ll want to make sure you price your ice cream servings to account for these costs.

If you decide to brand your supplies, again, consider the cost and upcharge accordingly.

Step Three: Have a Variety of Ice Cream Offerings

Variety of Ice Cream

The flavors and types of ice cream and ice cream treats you’ll offer will depend on your market research. Some products sell better with adults and others work best for kids. With a larger focus on health in recent years, vegan and lactose-free products will probably be in demand. Decide if you will offer mostly frozen treats, scoop the ice cream into cups and cones, or offer soft serve or hard ice cream.

Step Four: Choose the Right Marketing Strategy

Marketing is one of the most important things to consider for your ice cream truck business. Guerrilla-style marketing is the most cost-effective. That means thinking outside the box but not forgetting the basics.

One cost-effective marketing method is to ensure customers return and that means providing high-quality, exceptional customer service. You’ll never be profitable if your customers are left feeling unsatisfied. This could mean that you didn’t offer a napkin with their ice-cream cone or, you were having a bad day and maybe were curt and gruff. If that was their first experience with your business, that could cost you the next time you arrive to sell ice cream.

Some free ideas to market your ice-cream truck:

  • Build a social media following and encourage your followers to tell their friends.
  • Send your schedule and menu daily on your social media feeds. Let your customers know your specials and where they can find you each day.
  • Use a DIY website tool like, Squarespace or Wix to build your own website.
  • Parter with bars or restaurants or farmer’s markets and have your truck arrive on specific days and times for their patrons.
  • Connect with food truck apps like Roaming Hunger, Ice Cream Please, and Street Food Finder.
  • Create a custom hashtag and posts your pictures, your ice cream truck, your employees, and events your truck participates in.

Step Five: Understand The Revenue Potential and Costs to Run Your Ice Cream Truck

If you get all the right equipment, offer enough variety, and market your business consistently you could end up with an impressive ROI. Ice cream trucks make about $300 in a day, with over $5,000 earned in a month.

Your startup expenses will include the cost of your ice cream truck, music equipment insurance, permits and licenses, and your initial. On an ongoing basis expect to continue to purchase inventory, fuel for your ice cream truck, and all the essentials needed for your customers to enjoy their ice cream treats.

As a pioneer of mobile ice cream vending in south Texas, we provide entrepreneurs like you the tools and resources to grow your ice cream business. Partner with Southern Ice Cream today to get the guidance you need to get your ice cream truck business started!