How to start an Ice Cream Truck Business in UK USA (Business Plan)

ice cream truck business

Do you have these questions in your mind?

  • How to start an Ice Cream Truck Business?
  • How much does it cost to start an Ice Cream Truck business?
  • How do you make Ice Cream from the comfort of your home? 
  • How to find the best location to open an Ice Cream Truck Business?
 

In this article, you will find answers to all your questions. So please grab a cup of coffee, and let’s get started.

Table of Contents

What is the Ice Cream Truck Business?

With a global market value of around $80 billion and an annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.7%, the Ice Cream Industry is one of the biggest industries in the world right now.

 

And in this world of Ice Cream, an ice cream truck business involves selling ice cream from a specially designed truck or van from different locations. As a result, there is a high concentration of potential customers, such as parks, beaches, residential neighborhoods, or event venues.

 

The ice cream truck business is popular because it provides a unique experience, as customers can purchase their favorite frozen treats directly from the truck, often while enjoying the outdoors.

 

By the end of this article, you’ll learn the steps you need to take to start your very own Ice Cream and the critical considerations for making it a success.

Market Insight: In the US, the market size of an Ice Cream Truck industry is around $34 billion. Similarly, in the UK also, it is approximately £505 million.

ice cream truck business

Pros and Cons of an Ice Cream Truck Business 

Pros of an Ice Cream Truck include:

  • Flexibile
  • Low overhead Costs
  • High profit margins
  • Positive customer interactions
  • Easy to scale
  • Creative freedom
  • Low barrier to entry
 
Cons of an Ice Cream Truck Business:
 
  • Ice cream truck businesses are typically seasonal
  • Highly dependent on the weather
  • High Competition
  • Require regular maintenance and repair costs
  • Time-consuming
  • Limited product offerings
  • Ice cream trucks are noisy and disruptive to neighbourhoods

Remember, as a startup, your goal should be to keep your costs low and depend on your skills. If you push the process and try to go full-service from the very beginning, there is a good possibility that you’ll be overburdened and may get lost in the process.

Investment required for an Ice Cream Truck Business

The investment required to start an Ice Cream Truck business in the UK & the US can vary depending on many factors, such as the size and location of the company, the type of equipment and supplies needed, and the labor cost.

 

The average cost to open an Ice Cream business in the US ranges from $10K to $100K. While in the UK, the average cost to open an Ice Cream Truck business ranges from £5K to £40K.

 

That being said, some everyday expenses you may need to consider include the following:

 

  • Fuel costs
  • Inventory costs (ice cream, toppings, cones, cups, napkins, and other supplies)
  • Maintenance and repairs
  • Permits and licenses
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Insurance
  • Labor costs
ice cream truck business

How much will you earn in an Ice Cream Truck business?

It is easier to estimate the earnings of an Ice Cream Truck business with more information about the specific company, such as location, target market, and competition. 

In addition, factors such as overhead costs, sales volume, and pricing will all play a role in determining your earnings.

The average US Ice Cream Truck business revenue is around $50K – $200K annually, while in the UK, it’s about £25K – £75K per year, with a profit margin of about 5% – 25%. 

Busiest time for your business:

The business cycle of an Ice Cream truck business is seasonal. Winter seasons are considered to be low. Peak seasons are from May-August. You get moderate sales from April-September. However, sales might sometimes vary due to a few factors.

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ice cream truck business

Useful tips for starting your ice cream truck business

When starting your own Ice Cream Truck Business, first of all, there are some things you should keep in mind: 

 

  • Open business during the summer season will cover all the investments.
  • Always keep a reliable non-noisy generator, a power supply for freezing is mandatory for ice creams.
  • Find a supplier who can deliver to your doorstep, which will not impact the ice cream by melting.
  • Buying ice creams in bulk at a lower cost is a good idea. If you have less space in your truck or van to keep everything, you can arrange to keep them at home.
  • Be sure of stopping points and routes, and there should not be any legal restriction to operating from that area.
  • Keep looking for suitable commercial vendors offering you ice cream and its novelties at a reasonable cost.
  • Select the right commercial vehicle.
  • Get a little experience before starting this business.
  • Choose the correct locations.
  • Prepare your menu wisely.
  • Make a list of necessary supplies.
  • Take all the essential licenses, insurance & permits beforehand.
  • Always set a budget & sales target.
  • Monitor online reviews
  • Safeguard your assets
  • Invest in marketing your business.
  • Staff uniform 
  • Offer timely discounts and offers.
  • Keep your truck neat & tidy from the outside also.
ice cream truck business

Types of Ice Cream Truck Businesses

Depending on your skills, interests, and target market, you could start many ice cream truck businesses. Here are a few ideas:

 

1. Traditional ice cream truck: 

This type of ice cream truck business is stocked with various pre-packaged treats, such as sandwiches, popsicles, and cones.

 

2. Soft serve ice cream truck:

These trucks are equipped with machines that produce soft serve ice cream, dispensed into cones or cups. In addition, these trucks often offer a variety of toppings, such as sprinkles or hot fudge.

 

3. Gourmet ice cream truck: 

These trucks offer high-end, artisanal ice cream made with premium ingredients. Flavors may include unique combinations such as lavender honey or maple bacon.

 

4. Vegan ice cream truck: 

These trucks specialize in non-dairy ice cream with alternative ingredients like coconut milk or cashew cream. These trucks may also offer gluten-free and nut-free options.

 

5. Novelty ice cream truck: 

These trucks sell novelty treats, like ice cream bars shaped like cartoon characters or frozen treats with gummy worm “surprises” inside.

 

6. Health-conscious ice cream truck: 

These trucks cater to customers looking for low-sugar, low-fat, or low-calorie frozen treats. In addition, these trucks may offer frozen yogurt or fruit-based options.

Trends & Challenges in an Ice Cream Truck Business

Trends in an Ice Cream Truck Business

1. Different flavor combinations
2. Plant-based
3. Lactose-free
4. Low-calorie, high protein
5. Ice cream snacks
6. Non-melting ice creams

Challenges in an Ice Cream Truck Business

1. Seasonal work
2. Sometimes it is difficult to abide by government policies
3. Analysing inventory and wastage according to weather and season change
4. Rising prices of raw materials
5. Competitive market

ice cream truck business

List of Basic Items needed for your Ice cream Truck Business

Below is the list of the essential items required for the ice cream truck business; a few could be optional for you:

 

  • Vehicle
  • Ready-made ice creams, cones, etc. 
  • Ice cream machines (if you make it on your own)
  • Deep freezers and refrigerators
  • Soft serve machine
  • Ice cream dipping cabinets
  • Weighing scales, ice cream scoops
  • Blenders (if you make it on your own)
  • Kitchen tools, Aprons, Gloves
  • Utensils, Stand for utensils (optional)
  • Sinks 
  • Boxes for raw materials & ingredients (if any)
  • Table service essentials
  • Packaging materials
  • Good lighting
  • Fuel for the vehicle
  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Cleaning items
  • First aid kit
  • Firefighting equipment
  • Generators

A typical day in an Ice Cream Truck business includes:

1. Starting early in the morning
2. Preparing menu for the day
3. Ordering and storing ice cream or preparing ice cream
4. Check supplies
5. Opening the serving window once you are ready
6. Taking orders
7. Cleaning
8. Refrigerating/freezing necessary items for the next day
9. Handling customers’ complaints and feedback
10. Selling ice creams on different routes

ice cream truck business

Licences needed for a Ice Cream Truck Business 

While essential licenses such as Business Licence, Health and Safety regulations, and Sales Tax Permits apply to almost all businesses (To read more about the licenses, ‘Click Here to read our Mini Guide’).

 

Some specific licenses and permits might be needed to open an Ice Cream Truck business in the UK and the US. Those licenses are as follows :

 

1. Food business registration: 

If you plan to sell food products, including ice creams, you must register your business with your local council.

 

2. Allergen training: 

Suppose you plan to sell products that contain allergens, such as nuts or dairy. In that case, you and your employees must undergo allergen training to ensure you understand how to handle these ingredients and accurately label your products safely.

 

3. Food handler’s permit: 

You and your employees will need to obtain a food handler’s permit, demonstrating that you understand the principles of food safety and can handle food safely.

Some tips to help your Ice Cream truck Business to grow:

1. Develop a unique brand
2. Focus on quality
3. Offer a variety of products
4. Attend events and markets
5. Build an online presence
6. Build relationships with customers
7. Expand to wholesale

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ice cream truck business

Should you lease or purchase a food truck?

Should you lease or purchase a food truck? The answer depends on the situation you are in. First, check your financial position and decide if it is a long or short-term goal. It gives you clarity if you should buy or rent a food truck.

 

If deciding to purchase a new food truck, costs vary between $65K – $150K, depending on the outfitting, equipment, and all accessories. A second-hand truck generally costs between $35K – $80K. Renting a food truck is also an option; however, its cost is dependent on the length of the lease. That will cost you around $2,5K – 3,5K per month.

 

Here are the top Ice Cream Truck franchise options:

 

  • Mr. Softee
  • Kona Ice
  • Carvel Ice Cream
  • The Tikiz Ice Cream Truck
  • Sweet Pea
 

Conclusion

In conclusion, starting an Ice Cream Truck Business in the UK and the US can be rewarding and profitable.


However, conducting thorough market research, creating a solid business plan, and securing the necessary funding are crucial. In addition, it is essential to find the right location, choose the right equipment and suppliers, and create a unique and inviting atmosphere for customers.


Following these steps, you can set your Ice Cream Truck Business up for success and build a business that customers will love for years.

Want to Save Time in your Business Launch?

  • How to Create a Business Plan
  • What is Market Research, USP, Niche & Positioning
  • How to find a suitable name for your business
  • How to create your brand image (Logo + Branding)
  • How to Register Your Business
  • How to Register for Taxes
  • How to get Licenses / Permits
  • How to Open a Business Bank Account
  • How to Get Business Insurance
  • Which Payment Processing Terminal (POS) to buy
  • How to get Funds for your Business
  • How to do Sales & Marketing – Offline & Online
  • Why have a Website / Blog / Social Media
  • How to build & train your Dream Team
  • How to provide Excellent Customer Service
  • Buying an Old Business Vs Franchisee Vs Own Brand from Scratch

Handpicked inspirational Youtube videos for you

Ice cream truck on track to hit $20 million in sales – YT Channel ‘Nightly Business Report’

What It Takes To Be Mister Softee | Forbes – YT Channel ‘Forbes’

Day In The Life: NYC Ice Cream Truck Operator – YT Channel ‘Gothamist’

A. The cost will vary depending on factors such as the type of truck, equipment, inventory, permits and licenses, marketing, and other expenses. Typically, it can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 or more to start an ice cream truck business.

A. You can sell a variety of ice cream products on your truck, including soft-serve, hard-scooped ice cream, novelties (such as ice cream bars and sandwiches), frozen yogurt, and sorbet.

A. Look for high-traffic areas such as parks, beaches, festivals, and other events. You can also consider residential areas or business districts during peak hours.

A. Use social media to promote your business, offer discounts or special promotions, partner with other businesses or organizations, and use eye-catching branding and signage.

A. You will need an ice cream freezer, a generator, a refrigerator, a sink, and other small equipment such as scoops, cones, and cups.

A. Consider expanding your menu, participating in more events, partnering with other businesses, and exploring new locations to reach more customers. You can also consider adding more trucks or transitioning to a brick-and-mortar store over time.

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