Q.) Why did you build this web page?
A.) To help people interested in the shaved ice business be able to located information easily and to exchange ideas and tips with each other so that we can become more successful.
Q.) Can you make money selling shaved ice?
A.) Yes, this business allows a very high profit return to you. The cost per product is very low compared to other fast food items. Your cost should be somewhere between $0.16-$0.22 per 8 oz. serving. Your location can make the retail price vary. Here in Houston most vendors sell a 8 0z. snoball for around $1.00 - $1.25 per serving. Working at festivals, theme parks, and special events may bring you a higher price. Besides the start up cost is low compared to other similar fast food businesses and it really is a lot of fun.
Q.) How can I get started?
A.) First contact the vendors located on my links page and have them send you their information packages. Then decide which vendor best serves your needs.
Q.) What type of business is better? Mobile operation or stationary?
A.) They both have their advantages and disadvantages. Check with your local health departments and city or county planning and zoning departments before you decide. They will advise you what equipment is required in your area to obtain permits. This information may help you to decide which way is best for you.
With a mobile business you are able to go where the customers are. They are usually less expensive to purchase but may require multiple permits and regular maintenance. (This is the type of business I presently operate)
Permanent locations may cost more money and will be harder to relocate if your site doesn't produce enough income. The advantages are they require less maintenance, customers can easily locate them, and usually are easier to obtain permits. Both will make lots of money if properly managed.
Q.) Does your book contain information not found here on the web site?
A.) Yes, I have included all of my tips, ideas, photos and recipes in my book. Along with how I set up my business and the information that has helped me to become successful over the years. It is a must have for new operators and it will make a good reference book even for experienced shaved ice operators. It has over 60 fact filled pages professionally printed with all of the information I think you will need to get started out on the right foot.
Q.) Are ice shavers hard to operate?
A.) No, they are quite easy to operate. Anyone should be able to produce fine shaved ice snoballs with just a little training. Most shavers are constructed with quality materials and have many safety features built into their design. I have teenagers operate mine all the time and I have never had anyone injured by using my shavers.
Q.) Where can I find business?
A.) Everywhere. I serve amusement parks, festivals, schools, daycare centers, rodeos, soccer games, car shows, swimming pools, just about any place people gather you can make money. If you operate a mobile business you can easily go the where the people are. If you operate out of a permanent location send out flyers to schools, daycare centers, and have them handed out in neighborhoods if allowed and use discount cards. Try and find locations close to schools and parks. Offer specials to get customers coming to you. It won't take long to start making money if your product is good.
Q.) Do I have to make syrup?
A.) No, but it is better if you do. Besides premixed syrup is expensive and will not taste as good as homemade syrup. You also have more control over cost and quality when you produce your own. I have people visit my shop everyday just because they prefer my syrup recipe which I will teach you how to make in my book.
Q.) What type of ice do I need? Block or Cube?
A.) Clear beverage quality ice is preferred. Ice that is compressed with air will not work well and will not yield as much profit as beverage quality ice. Compressed ice is produced by squeezing left over ice into blocks or cubes and refreezing it. You can identify this type of ice usually by the off white color of the ice. Decide if you are going to use a block shaver (my favorite) or a cube shaver in your business and contact the local ice distributors to see if they offer solid block ice before deciding. If they don't you may have to consider a block ice maker or a cube shaver.
Q.) Is there a lot of work involved in this business?
A.) Yes and No, If you have properly trained employees who can assist you in the day to day operation then it is much easier on you. I won't kid you though, it takes a a lot of hard work to keep your stand operating smoothly. Making syrup, making or ordering ice, ordering supplies, keeping inventory, scheduling workers, cleaning, maintenance and working long hours 7 days a week can wear you down. But the profit you will make is well worth the amount of work you have to put out to keep your business going.
Q.) Can I do this by myself or will I need to hire employees?
A.) Again this is a hard question to answer. On some days I can easily operate my business by myself. On other days I need at least two or more people working each of my locations. I always try and use family members or friends first to let them make some extra money. If they are not available I use employees who I trust and that can produce high volume, high quality, snoballs.
Well I hope I have answered a few of your questions and if you have anymore please ask. This was the primary reason for establishing this board. Other vendors and I would like to help you to become more successful in this business. Join our forum and chat with other shaved ice operators around the country.
Have fun now and enjoy yourself on your Shaved Ice Information web site.