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What's Involved in running a Shaved Ice Business the FlavorSnow way?

When you use the complete FlavorSnow System™, you become the producer of your two most basic raw materials - syrup and ice.  

That's the secret!  The system's easy and the most cost effective method of operating a retail Shaved Ice business.

This little secret, combined with the premium quality equipment and products we offer, makes it hard for anyone to compete with your Shaved Ice product in all the most important areas - quality, cost of goods sold and production output speed.

We provide all the instructions on syrup and ice production.  We will also gladly provide tips and advise that will help you run your business as easily and cost efficiently as possible.

Click on all the topics below for more helpful information about "What's Involved" in starting and operating you very own profitable Shaved ice business...

Following the FlavorSnow System™ of making your own syrups, you'll prepare all syrups in advance and make sure you have all the necessary supplies you’ll need for the day. The better you’re setup the easier the day will be. Proper setup will also enable you to serve customers at a faster pace and therefore increase your daily sales volume. 

During peak season most stands open for business in the late morning around 10 or 11:00am and close when customer flow decreases significantly around 9:00 or 10:00pm. 

Your location will be the most important factor in determining business hours. When you’re ready to open, you and/or your employees will shave snow directly into a cup, dispense the desired flavored syrup and serve to your customers on a per order basis.

Be sure to click on all the bookmarks above for more detailed info on the "What's Involved?" page.  Also see the "FlavorSnow FAQ's" page for answers to our most common questions.

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How to Start Your Shaved Ice Business:

Start by scouting out a location.  Then contact the proper local and state government agencies to register your business and obtain the required permits you will need to sell a food product.

After that's done, equip your location (or mobile unit) with all the necessary items to you’ll need to operate like a shaver, block ice maker, freezer, flavors and supplies.

NOTE: If you choose to open without purchasing a block ice maker you should contact local icehouses and verify that they can supply you with solid block ice. A 12-1/2  to 15 Lb block of ice from a Sno-Block™ ice block making machine will produce between 20 and 30 small eight-ounce servings of shaved ice.

The total amount of servings you’ll get from a block will depend on how high you pile the snow above the rim of the cup and how much snow is wasted. A lighter "scored" block from an icehouse will usually yield less because of its smaller size and lower weight.

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Business Locations:

Without a doubt the most important issue is your location.  It has to be good to achieve high sales volume.

Permanent Locations:

By far the most successful outlets in the New Orleans area are small stationary buildings. Many of these "Snowball Stands", as we call them here, are in movable (or portable) type buildings built on skids no larger than 10 x 20 feet in size - usually smaller - fixed in place with pluming and electrical services provided by local utility companies. These buildings are excellent because if for some reason the location doesn’t pan out as expected you can "disconnect" and move to a better location.

Nearly all operations serve customers standing outside through a serving window. The nature of the product makes it difficult to serve inside, although there are exceptions.  In fact, New Orleans’ most famous snowball stand, Hansen’s Sno Bliz, is a very successful indoor operation and has been for around 66 years. 

However, we highly recommend the standard outside serving configuration mainly because of reduced clean up and somewhat less stringent health code requirements.

If you do decide on a stationary location, choose a highly visible one with convenient access to commuters on their way home. We also feel the added expense of a "Drive-Thru" type outlet is well worth the additional expense.

Mobile Setups:

Mobile units offer more flexibility and allow you to "go where the crowds are". Carnivals, fairs and festivals, as well as special events such as, parades, air shows and rodeos (or any public event for that matter) are all great at providing a captive consumer base for your products. Concession trailers, carts and step vans are ideal for use as mobile units.

While special event vendor fees can be high, operational overhead is usually lower since you will not have to pay rent on a year round basis. Either an established route or a semi permanent location in one of these mobile units can be very profitable.                                    

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Here's some great ideas on where to put your operation whether permanent or mobile.

Commercial

  • Shopping Centers

  • Super Markets

  • Department Stores

  • Flea Markets

  • Schools

  • Day Care Centers

  • Fairs & Festivals

Tourist

  • Beaches

  • Water Parks

  • Campgrounds

  • Historical Landmarks

  • Travel Terminals

Recreational

  • Ballparks

  • Playgrounds

  • Amusement Parks

  • Public Pools

  • Zoos

Residential  - On main roads leading to:

  • Cities

  • Suburbs

  • Sub-divisions

  • Municipal Parks

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Sales Unit Layout & Appearance:

LAYOUT: Your sales unit’s layout is important.  Unless you have a very small work area, the best place for your shaver is directly to the left of the serving window.  This is whether you have a permanent or mobile operation.

This "shaver to the left" setup allows the easiest flow of operation during busy periods and lets the customers actually see their serving being custom made.  It also alleviates the need for you or your employees to cross your bodies with every cup of snow that’s shaved.

Place your syrups either to the right or in back of the serving window with the more popular flavors as close as possible.  Your cups or serving containers should be situated close to the shaver operator.

Additional equipment and supplies can be placed in any convenient out of the way place in the stand.  Additional equipment can include an ice block maker, refrigerator/freezer and syrup mixing and storage containers

APPEARANCE: It’s best to have your outlet brightly painted and well decorated.  Signage is especially important in promoting your business.  Remember that this is a COLORFUL business and you want it to stand out and grab that impulse buyer.

It should also be well lit at night.  This makes your customers feel safe and helps you attract many more customers after sundown after the temperature drops.

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Personnel:

The typical stand will employ two people at or slightly above minimum wage, one to operate the shaver, the other to dispense the syrups and collect the money.  Higher volume operations can keep four or more employees busy at peak times.

In very high volume situations, such as fairs and festivals, it’s wise to have at least one backup support person per machine to set up for both your machine operator and customer service personnel.

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Marketing:  What To Call Your Product:

Snowballs, Sno Cones and Shaved (or Shave) Ice are all terms currently used to describe your finished product.

SNOWBALL - and all its variant spellings (i.e. Snow-Ball, Snoball, Sno-Ball, etc.) is a regional generic term that’s been used in the South for generations.  Here in New Orleans, a “Snowball” has the great reputation of being a soft, fluffy and delicious tasting summertime treat.

SHAVED ICE - is an excellent generic term because it truly describes your product. It can also be easily incorporated into the name of your business regardless of where you’re located.  Example:  John Doe's "Real Shaved Ice" Snowballs.  NOTE:  In Hawaii the term is “Shave Ice”, without the “d” in Shaved.

SNOW CONE - Unfortunately (in most areas), the term snow-cone has the unfortunate reputation of being crunchy and bland tasting.

Whatever you choose to call your product, we feel your business will benefit by using the term “Shaved Ice” in addition to any traditional regional term, either in the name of your business and/or the description of your product.

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Advertising:

Your best advertisement will come in the form of “word of mouth” referrals from satisfied customers.  A promotional give away of a small serving to curious customers for the first day or so should quicken the process.

 

For the first few weeks you could pass out flyers describing your product, prices and give directions to your stand.  Consumers in new markets tend to be uninformed about the quality of the product you have to offer.

 

Be sure to emphasize the fact that your product is true "powdery" shaved snow that’s deliciously flavored, and not the crunchy, bland tasting products they may have been exposed to in the past.  

 

As stated above, lots of signage is great and small advertisements in daily or weekly newspapers will help get the word out as well.  Even short, inexpensive radio commercials have also been used in new markets with success.

 

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Support, Advice & Tips:

FlavorSnow Mfg. Co.™  has supplied the gourmet Shaved Ice industry since 1932.  The company owners are available to explain anything not covered in this brief overview of “What’s Involved” in operating a successful retail Shaved Ice business.

We encourage all of our customers to ask any question they feel is necessary to make their business flourish.  We've known for over 74 years that your success means our successGive FlavorSnow a call at (504) 949-9546 or 800-878-9546 at your convenience for advice – you’ll be glad you did!

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Copyright © 1995-2007 FlavorSnow Mfg. Co.™  All rights reserved.
Revised January 30, 2007