Saturday, August 18, 2007

Setting Up Your Shaved Ice or Snow Cone Business, Part 1

Now that you’ve made the exciting decision to open up a shaved ice or snow cone business you need to start making some crucial decisions. Are you looking at operating from a fixed location or setting up a mobile business?

You really need to choose which type of operation you are going to set up because it has an impact on the type of equipment you should purchase and use (we’ll discuss equipment options in another article soon).

In making your choice, you need to weigh out the advantages and disadvantages of both operations. Let’s examine the mobile operation first. When investigating the idea of operating a mobile concessions business, one of your first destinations should be your local health department. Some cities/towns have their own health department while in other areas you will only have a county run health department. In any case, visit their location and inquire about the health department requirements for operating a mobile concessions business. Find out what you must do to comply with their regulations.

After visiting with the health department, one of the next things you should do is come up with a geographic area that you intend to operate within. Are you going to stay in just your own city or county? If not, find out what the neighboring town/counties health code requirements are for temporary vendors.

Once you are armed with this information, you should then start investigating the events in your local area and determine the dates for the operation of your business (your ‘season’). Investigate events such as spring festivals, local music festivals, car shows, street fairs, county fairs, craft shows, soccer and baseball tournaments, etc. A good source for local events is your area Chamber of Commerce. They can usually assist you with initial contact information for any special events happening within your local area. You should try to get in contact with potential venues as soon as possible. The earlier you contact them, the better your chance of being involved in that particular event. Concession spaces fill up very quickly at special events…especially those with high volumes of people in attendance.

These are a few of the initial steps recommended for those of you who are considering a mobile operation. We will continue to expand on this in additional articles soon. However, the next article will discuss some of the processes we recommend for business operators who will be at a fixed location.

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