Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all of our customers and readers! From everyone at 1-800-ShavedIce.com, HawaiianShavedIce.com, and CottonCandyExpress.com, we wish you all a successful, profitable, and enjoyable 2009!

For those of you in the shaved ice and snow cone business, "may your summer be warm, long, and profitable!" We appreciate your patronage during 2008 and look forward to the opportunity of serving you in the coming year.

FREE Business Resource

Not many things in life are free. In the business world, it's virtually impossible to find something worthwhile that is truly free. Here is a resource that is a valuable tool and yes, it's really free.

"SCORE "Counselors to America's Small Business" is a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and the formation, growth and success of small business nationwide. SCORE is a resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

SCORE is headquartered in Herndon, VA and Washington, DC and has 389 chapters throughout the United States and its territories, with 10,500 volunteers nationwide. Both working and retired executives and business owners donate time and expertise as business counselors. SCORE was founded in 1964."

In the past, we have talked about the importance of creating a good "toolbox" of resources for your business. We've also referred to "magic lanterns" from time to time too (a definition we adopted from David Ogilvy). SCORE should definitely be considered an invaluable tool for your toolbox and a magic lantern (a resource to go back to time and time again).

I would encourage you to visit SCORE's website. It alone has a ton of valuable information addressing a multitude of topics. You also have the ability to ask questions through their website. They also list their low cost workshops online. And, if you're interested, you can find a SCORE office near you where you can set up a time to get face to face advice from a seasoned, professional business person.

Check it out and use this resource to answer your questions! It's a great FREE resource!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Setting Goals for 2009

So, what goals have you set for your concessions business in 2009? While some of you may say that goals aren’t necessary for your small business – especially in light of the current economy. Most business leaders will tell you that you are completely wrong. This is exactly the time when goals are most important for businesses of any size. Just because your business is seasonal, part time or extremely small doesn’t discount the importance of setting up goals. 2009 is going to be a continuing struggle for businesses of all sizes. When compiling your goals for the coming year, keep in mind the old adage, “If you keep doing the exact same thing you will keep getting the exact same results.”

One thing that most business analysts and professionals are recommending is a “back to basics” approach for 2009. Take a look at what has worked well for you in previous years. What were your keys to success? How can you take those keys and exploit them in the coming year to ensure continued success with your business?
Here are 4 basic suggestions to get you started:

1. Cut Costs – Find ways to reduce your expenses, but not at the expense of customer service or product quality.
2. Drive Sales Volume Up – Investigate ways to successfully market your business in a way that will positively impact your sales. This can be tricky in tough economic times. Drop marketing that doesn’t work. Now isn’t the time to waste money on methods that aren’t yielding anything positive for your company.
3. Conserve Cash – Cash is king in any economic arena. Work hard to keep cash reserves on hand. While it’s important to make sure you have equipment, supplies and adequate inventory to operate your business properly, this may not be the best time to go shopping for “bigger and better.” Save the money and keep it in reserve…just in case.
4. Stay Focused – It’s best to keep your goals realistic. Keep your list small and stay on track with them. When you write out your goals, include your reasons for setting this goal too. Why is it important to you? What is your motivation? This information will be helpful down the road when you reexamine your list.

These are just a few examples of some goals to set for your business. We encourage you to sit down, examine your own business and set goals that are in the best interest of you and your business. At 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com, we wish you all a profitable and successful 2009. Please feel free to email us anytime or leave a question/comment here in the blog regarding anything related to operating your concessions business. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss your business with you!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

From everyone at 1-800-ShavedIce.com, HawaiianShavedIce.com, and CottonCandyExpress.com, we want to wish you and your family a safe and enjoyable holiday season. We hope that all of you will be able to spend time relaxing and having fun with your loved ones.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Customer Service

Customer service is incredibly important to us here at HawaiianShavedIce.com. Here are a couple of comments we received that accurately describe our commitment to our customers:

"Delivery time was EXCELLENT. Packing was good, and items arrived exactly as expected. Price was very reasonable, more per bottle than the off-the-shelf stuff you get at Wal-Mart, etc., but the Hawaiian Shaved Ice bottles are bigger, and ounce-per-ounce it is about the same cost. However, you are getting a much better quality product from HSI. Syrup flavors overall were excellent, same quality as what you would find at fairs and carnivals. In fact, I suspect these are the same syrups used by the professional vendors. A great buy."
David, VA

"I was very pleased with the entire transaction. The order was received, processed, and shipped immediately. Even though I live in Florida, ice flavors are seasonal. I am excited to know I can now receive ice flavors any time during the year. Keep up the good work and thanks to all who made this transaction so easy."
Mike, FL

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Remember This Ad at the Drive-In?

This advertisement ran a bit before I can remember it (1960's), but it just goes to show that snow cones have been a popular treat for a long, long time!

Summer can't come quick enough again! It's 4 degrees outside where I am today. It's too cold for a tasty snow cone...so I need warmer weather!

A Gift for the Budding Entrepreneur

Do you have a child who is a budding entrepreneur? If so, why not give them a gift that will introduce them to the excitement that surrounds owning their own business!

Combining two of our most popular items, our Roadside Business Pack comes with our Ultimate Shaved Ice package and our Shaved Ice Stand (for kids). This complete package will provide hours of fun indoors and out for the young entrepreneur. In the summer time, they can set it up in the front yard and do a booming business in your neighborhood!

Included in this package: Shaved Ice Stand, our kid-safe S-500 Snow Cone Machine (Electrical, 120 Volt), 5 quart bottles of Hawaiian Shaved Ice Premium Syrup (your choice), 25 Spoon Straws, 5 Bottle Pourers, 25 Sno Cone Cups, 1 Hawaiian Flower Lei (artificial)

This is a fun and educational gift that will provide your future business man or woman with something they will enjoy and learn from at the same time. Order today from HawaiianShavedIce.com!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Give a Flavorful Gift

If someone you know already has a shaved ice or snow cone machine, why not give them a gift of flavor? That's right...give them the best flavored syrups possible by ordering from HawaiianShavedIce.com. Our award winning flavors are a great gift!

Just think...order a few of their favorite flavors (and one or two of your own)and give them as gifts this holiday season. Then, when it's nice and warm out this summer, you can visit their house and have them make you a shaved ice or snow cone with YOUR favorite flavor, haha!

HawaiianShavedIce.com is running a holiday special right now on the purchase of 5 quart bottles of their premium flavored syrups for only $36.25 (plus shipping). Order today and still receive them before December 25th!

Snow Cone Holders

Snow Cone Holders are a must for anyone who likes to enjoy these frozen treats. They are also an incredibly useful tool for any mom or dad who doesn't know what to do when their child says, "hold this please..."

These are lifesavers for patio furniture and around the pool! Order a couple of sets today from HawaiianShavedIce.com!

Serve snow cones in style with our fun spiral snow cone cup holders. Designed for our 6 oz. snow cone cups. 4 snow cone holders included in pack.

* Pack of 4 Snow Cone Cup Holders
* Colors: Orange, Blue, Pink, and Green
* Designed for 6 oz. Snow Cone Cups
* Snow Cone Cups are not included with holders

Dual Snow Cone Machine - A Great Gift for Kids!

This great little machine can make one or two snow cones at a time. This easy-to-use and child-safe snow cone machine uses regular ice cubes. It's great for making snow cones, slushies, and other healthy frozen treats.

Included with the Dual Snow Cone Machine is a removable two-cup holder that keeps the snow cone cups in place, and two adjoining syrup pump bottles.

Plugs into any household outlet.

Available in a Complete Home Package that includes shaved ice syrups and supplies. Contact HawaiianShavedIce.com today for more information about the complete home package.

This is a great gift for any child! It will be used all summer long. Who knows...it might inspire some youngster to start their own snow cone or shaved ice business! Create a young entrepreneur today!

Holiday Shipping Deadlines from HawaiianShavedIce.com

If you are planning to order a gift from HawaiianShavedIce.com, please remember:

All orders placed on or before 1:00 PM EST, Wednesday, December 17th, 2008 and shipped to the Continental United States will arrive on or before December 24th.

If shipping to other destinations please call us directly at 1-800-742-8334 or 910-594-1691.

Happy Holidays from Hawaiian Shaved Ice.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Today is National Cotton Candy Day

So, did you go out, purchase, and enjoy some cotton candy today? You should have! But, if you didn't get a chance...well, there's always tomorrow.

Here at ConcessionCentral.com, we have over 35 articles discussing various aspects of cotton candy, machines, recipes, and equipment. If you need equipment or supplies, we encourage you to visit CottonCandyExpress.com, which offers only top quality cotton candy supplies. If you are just interested in starting your own cotton candy business, please visit CottonCandyExpress.com too. You will find quite a bit of helpful information there to guide you along your exciting concessions journey.

If you're just interested in the history of cotton candy, please read this previous post. I also found this interesting little article on cotton candy today on the National Confectioners Association website.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

We Sell Customized Aprons and Other Apparel

1-800-Shaved-Ice.com and HawaiianShavedIce.com sells T-shirts, aprons, coffee mugs, and many other items that have the classic hula dancer girl with a cup of shaved ice in her hand.

These aprons are great for busy concession stands. They are an easy way to convey a sense of professionalism and quality to your customers. Check out all of the great shirts and other apparel items that can help you create that professional image for your stand.

This Concession Trailer Will Certainly Draw Attention!

Check this awesome concession trailer out! If there was ever a trailer designed to catch the attention of passersby, it's this one. This is the Cadillac of all shaved ice concession trailers. This custom built Shaved Ice Caboose measures over 26 foot long and provides plenty of room for any busy shaved ice or concession business.

It comes complete with a bright red finish and the traditional caboose cupola. This Shaved Ice Caboose will definitely help you stand out from the crowd. No expense was spared and no corners were cut in the construction of this first-class concession trailer.

For more information about this awesome trailer, please visit 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Shed’s Hawaiian Shaved Ice and Come Back Hot Dogs

After many years of serving in the US military, Shed now operates a mobile shaved ice and hot dog concessions business full time out of Savannah, Georgia. Recently, I talked with Shed about his business and how he had settled on establishing a mobile concessions business. Here are some of the highlights from our conversation:

How many years have you been in business?

Shed: I’m in my second year now.

Why did you choose to go into the shaved ice business?

Shed: During my military service, I was stationed for awhile in Hawaii. While visiting a flea market, I saw a line of people waiting to be served at a shaved ice stand. I watched the operator and how long it took him to make each serving and noticed the amount of money he was charging for each serving. At that time, I thought it was a great idea. The main ingredient (ice) is cheap and total business overhead is low. I knew it just came down to selecting a good location. Once I had finished my military service, it was a no brainer on what I wanted to do and at that time, I chose to start my own shaved ice business.

Would you tell us a little about your equipment and where you operate?

Shed: I purchased two Snowie 3000 machines from 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com. I have one that is 12volt (DC) and the other one is an AC machine. The Snowie is a real workhorse – very powerful and reliable. I had some issues in the beginning as far as learning how to use the machine, but the problems were mainly my fault and not the fault of the machine. I operate my business from a small, single axle trailer that is large enough for two employees. I primarily set up at two main locations. I spend two weeks at Hunter Army Airfield and then two weeks over at Fort Stewart. I also occasionally work at family reunions, church events, and fairs too. When I want to find events, I use the Internet to search for them. I operate year round due to selling hot dogs, chips, and soda, as well as shaved ice.

What advice would you give to potential shaved ice business owners?

Shed: I’d tell them to do their homework as far as health department regulations are concerned. Here in Georgia, ice is considered a prepared food product. Even though I purchase ice and it is bagged, I still am treated like a full fledged food service provider. Because of this, I must have a commissary. I need to have access to a full kitchen, approved by the health department where I can prepare my equipment and clean up my equipment. In some cases, if you don’t have access to this type of facility, it can be expensive to obtain a facility that will meet the health department standards. At times, it can also be hard to get a commissary agreement in place with a local restaurant or kitchen. So, I would encourage them to find out what rules the health department in their area has and how they apply to shaved ice businesses.

What has been your best day as far as gross sales?

Shed: I did about $700 selling shaved ice only on July 4th, from 3pm to 11pm. I had a line all day long. I think we used about a dozen 20lb. bags of ice that day. I made about $400 profit that day, which was really nice.

How has 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com helped your business?

Shed: I order about 95% of all the supplies I use for my business online using 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com. I’m 100% satisfied with their service to my business. Anytime I need something, I know I can call Gary and he’ll take care of my needs. They always have a quick response to any requests or problems that may come up. For example, I was having difficulty with my Snowie machines right after I ordered them. I was using up blades real fast and I knew I was doing something wrong. I called Gary and he worked with me to solve the problem. Gary also called the machine manufacturer and I was able to speak directly with the owner about my problem. After a couple of phone conversations, they helped me figure out what I was doing wrong.

Have you had any funny moments with customers or employees?

Shed: I always seem to have a few skeptical customers. I wear a t-shirt that has my company name on it and a lot of people don’t understand the last part of my company name, ‘Come Back Hot Dogs.’ I have a recipe for cooking my hot dogs which gives them a unique taste. Many times, I’ll have a skeptical customer who will order one hot dog and leave. However, usually within 15 minutes, they’ll ‘come back’ for another one! Even though I am a mobile vendor, I get to see a lot of the same customers over and over again. Often times, I’ll get phone calls from loyal customers wondering when I’m going to be back in their area again. I also enjoy watching kids (and the young at heart) get excited about ordering shaved ice. Often times I get comments from older folks who say having a cup of shaved ice brings back good memories for them. I enjoy that.

What’s your favorite shaved ice flavor?

Shed: I like to mix cherry, wild cherry and black cherry.

I want to thank Shed for talking about his business with me. From everyone at 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com, we wish only the best for Shed and his business. We appreciate the opportunity to provide him with our products and services. By the way, if you’re down around Savannah…be sure you stop by his stand for a couple of hot dogs. Just save some room for a cool, refreshing cup of shaved ice too!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Snowballs and Snowcones in St. Louis

I found this quirky article today that discusses quite a few different snowball and snow cone stands in the St. Louis metro area. While the dialog in the article is a bit goofy, I think the quick reviews of each stand might be helpful to other concessionaires.

So, when you get a chance, read through the article and you might gain a few useful insights for operating your own business more efficiently and profitably.

Monday, November 24, 2008

31 Days Until Christmas!

Are you making progress with your Christmas shopping? Still trying to figure out what to get everyone?

Decisions, decisions, decisions. Sometimes it's overwhelming to locate unique gifts for everyone on your list. Need a good suggestion? Try giving out a few gift certificates to HawaiianShavedIce.com. A gift certificate is a great way to let someone pick out the gift that they will enjoy. Friends and family will still be thanking you when it's 100 degrees outside and they are enjoying a cool, refreshing shaved ice or snow cone thanks to you!

Visit HawaiianShavedIce.com today and grab a few gift certificates today!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

An Interview with Britton Roller: College Student and Entrepreneur in Oklahoma

Britton Roller, college student and business owner at 22 years of age. Britton is one busy guy! When he’s not attending Southeast Oklahoma State University studying for his degree in aviation, he pretty much spends the rest of his time inside his shaved ice stand. While at school (between classes of course!), Britton took some time to talk with me about his shaved ice business and answer some questions.

What’s the name of your shaved ice business?

Britton: I just use the traditional name, Hawaiian Shaved Ice.

How many years have you been in business?

Britton: I’ll be starting my 3rd season on April 12th. I’ll only be open a couple of days each week until the spring semester ends. Once I’m out of school though, I’ll be open seven days a week. I’m open from 11am to 10pm Monday thru Saturday and 2pm to 10pm on Sundays.

Why did you choose to go into the shaved ice business?

Britton: After spending a summer working at a factory with low pay and bad hours, my dad and I sat down to discuss other ideas for generating income for me so I could pay for college. We came up with the plan of opening our own shaved ice stand and operating it during the summer months. I did a lot of research about the business online. I found the 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com website, downloaded and printed out their COLD CASH business manual. After more research, my dad and I went through it all together. Once we had looked at everything and the cost vs. profit, we put our plan into action. My dad loaned me the money to start up the business (which I paid back in full during my first season of operation).

Would you tell us a little about your equipment and where you operate?

Britton: Fortunately, my dad and I were able to design and build the stand ourselves. Initially the building was 15’x30’. However, due to the need for more freezers, we expanded the building and it is now 15’x45’. We have a great location in a business parking lot in town. I have a New Orleans Block Machine and it’s perfect for our stand. It creates the best shaved ice around! We make our own block ice in-house too. During my first season, we underestimated the amount of ice we would need and consequently had to purchase additional block ice from a local ice house. However, after adding on to the building, we now have 2 upright freezers for making ice and 3 deep, floor freezers for storing ice blocks. I go through about 15-25 blocks of ice every day. When I first opened my stand, there were two other stands in town too. However, they have both closed since then, leaving me without any local competition. There are several stands in the larger town just north of us.

What advice would you give to someone interested in starting their own shaved ice business?

Britton: I would have to say that they should expect to put a lot more time into it than they originally plan. It’s very time consuming. Your time invested goes way beyond just the hours you are open for customers. Also, I’d recommend that they operate it themselves. If you’re looking to make the most money, you need to do it yourself. I work everyday and don’t have any employees. I feel that I’m fortunate though because by doing this, I don’t have to work at all during the school year.

Be open to customer suggestions too. I’ve had customers suggest different flavors or recipes and I’ve tried them. If they’re popular, I’ve added them to my menu. Customer service is critical and part of that is responding to their requests.

Another thing I would recommend to someone interested in operating their own shaved ice business is to set your hours and stick with them. Be consistent! You can’t close just because you have something else that you want to do that particular day. You will lose customers! You have to set your hours and be open in order to build repeat customers.

What has been your best day as far as gross sales?

Britton: On my busiest days, I’ll bring in about $300-315 per day. I probably make about 150-200 servings on those days. My profit margin is pretty high because my expenses are very limited. I’d say that my profit margin runs around 80%.

How has 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com helped your business?

Britton: 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com is fantastic. When I first started my business, I ordered everything from them. I ordered my machine, mixing supplies, bottles, utensils…everything came from 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com. Now I order all of my flavors, sugar free base packs, and other items through them. I think their customer service is awesome. I know that I can call them, ask a question and they’ll get an answer for me. When I ordered my machine in the beginning, Gary called us up and counseled us in making a decision on a machine that was slightly higher in price, but much better in quality. He was right and we really appreciated the time and effort he took in helping us choose a great machine for our business.

Have you had any funny moments with customers or employees?

Britton: One thing I enjoy is knowing what my customers are going to order. Because I’m a neighborhood stand, I get a lot of repeat customers. It’s fun to have a customer ask me, “What is it that I order all the time?” They get a kick out of the fact that I can remember their order and they can’t.

Another thing that I find interesting is the amount of people who will come and just order a plain cup of ice (no flavor). They just like the ice that our machine produces. I have a boy who’s about 4 years old that comes by with his grandma just about every day. He likes to get a cup of plain ice with a blue straw. A lot of times I’ll see him coming across the parking lot and I’ll have it ready, sitting under the counter, waiting for him. He gets a thrill when I pull it out and hand it over to him.

I also had a customer come through, order a cup of shaved ice, taste it, and ask: “Are your flavors from that company in North Carolina?” I was blown away. I told them yes, it was from 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com and they said they could tell just by the taste! Apparently they used to own or work at a stand where they used the same flavors. It just goes to show you that people can taste the difference between cheaply made syrups and the quality syrups made by 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com.

What’s your favorite shaved ice flavor?

Britton: My favorite is called a “Salty Dog.” Some people may make it in different ways, but I make it with strawberry syrup, real lemon juice, and margarita salt.

Thanks for taking the time to talk about your stand with us Britton. We really appreciate your insight! Everyone here at 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com admires your dedication to your customers and the hard work you put in to your business. We wish you the best with your education, flying, and your shaved ice business!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Insights from Customers at a Shaved Ice Stand

I came across this article this morning. It's from 2006, so it is old. However, what struck me as most important about the entire article was the quotes from customers. There are some good nuggets for insight in this article. It's always helpful to know what your customers are thinking.

I would encourage you to take a moment and read this article. I consider this one of those "magic lanterns" for concessionaires. It's just an opportunity to gain more insight into how you may be able to serve the absolute best products to your customers.

Holiday Gift Idea

Looking for something unique to give this holiday season? Check out this Shaved Ice Package offered at HawaiianShavedIce.com. This package is complete and will excite any shaved ice aficionado.

This complete home shaved ice package is great for families, picnics, family reunions or pool parties! Our most popular shaved ice package, this complete kit also makes a unique gift for any Shaved Ice or Snow Cone Lover.

* Included in the package:S-660 Shaved Ice Machine
* 5 quart bottles of HawaiianShavedIce.com Premium Syrup (your choice)
* 25 Spoon Straws
* Set of 3 Ice Molds
* 5 Bottle Pourers
* 25 Sno Cone Cups

Order now during our Pre-Holiday Sale!

Another Unique Take on Cotton Candy

I also found this interesting blog post at Annna.net discussing cotton candy. Not only does she have some great cotton candy pictures (check out the huge witch hat), but some cool video as well.


A Unique Version of Cotton Candy

Here's a twist on normal cotton candy that sounds pretty tasty to me! Check out this article about Maple Cotton Candy that is sold in North Carolina at the State Fair. It may just inspire you to get creative with your products and menu!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Proselytes: Creating "Evangelists" for Your Company

So, we're ready to delve into proselytization. But first, what does that mean? After looking through several definitions, I decided that the best one I could find was just what Guy Kawasaki used: "the process of converting others to your belief, doctrine, or cause." Most likely, you have heard the term proselyte or proselytize connected with religion. While it is most commonly used in conjunction with religion, it is certainly a word that may be used in other circles. In our case, we're going to apply it to creative marketing.

"Proselytization, or evangelism, represents the core of branding for startups in today's highly competitive world, in which information is free, ubiquitous, and instantaneous. The art of branding requires creating something contagious that infects people with enthusiasm, making it easy for them to try it, asking them for help in spreading the word, and building a community around it." Guy Kawasaki

How do you apply this to shaved ice, snow cones, and cotton candy? It's not hard when you start thinking creatively. Guy goes on to list some product characteristics which will help generate the positive "buzz" that you want for your business.

1. Cool. Your product/company needs to look appealing.
2. Effective. Your product has to produce positive results. In our case...it has to look good and taste good!
3. Distinctive. Your product has to be different and unique from that of your competitors. Signature flavors, unique combinations, different presentation...something creative.

There are more characteristics that he lists, but these three are the easiest and what I feel the most important ones that apply to concessionaires. These three characteristics are, I think, directly related to your products. There are several articles in the blog that touch upon using quality ingredients, excellent equipment, and unsurpassed customer service. I would encourage you to go back through some of the older articles and re-read some of those posts.

We have also touched upon ways to introduce your company to potential customers. Free Day is one of the best ways that we have found to create the 'evangelists' we're discussing now. Community involvement is another critical way to grow your business. Schedule fundraiser nights at your stand for Little League Baseball or Softball teams, a church youth group, Boys and Girls Club, the list is endless. This only leads to bringing in more and more people to your location, which ultimately will yield routine customers...some of whom will become the best advertising and referral tools your business will ever have.

In the past, we discussed the concept of rewarding those loyal customers through the use of loyalty cards. This is something that every customer enjoys. The idea of getting something for FREE is always appealing!

During your off season, I would encourage you to think about your products and what you can do to make them unique and appealing. Also think about strategies to increase the public's awareness of your business. Creative work in these areas of your business will yield long term customers and boost profits for your company. It's well worth the time invested!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Branding: What's Your Plan?

Branding is a critical component of any company's marketing strategy. Since the fall and winter are the off season for most concessionaires, I thought this would be a good time to put together some information on the subject of branding. My goal is that you will be able to use the off season to think about your own branding and how effective it is for your business. In doing this, you have some time before next season starts to work on new marketing strategies to effectively reach more customers.

In the past I have mentioned Guy Kawasaki here in the blog and recommended his book to you, "The Art of the Start." I still highly recommend that you purchase the book and read it. The following information about branding is taken from one of the chapters in his book. I want to take some of the points he makes and expound on them a little bit as they relate to concessionaires.

Guy brings out five major points that are critical to branding, 4 of which are well known, universal marketing principles. The fifth point that he brings in is what I think is extremely important to concessionaires.

1. Product
2. Place
3. Price
4. Promotion
5. Proselytization

Throughout the blog and in our business manual, Cold Cash, we discuss points 1 through 4 at length. However, we have only touched on a few ideas related to point number 5: Proselytization.

In the interest of not creating a HUMONGOUS article, I'm going to stop here and create a new article that solely discusses Guy's fifth point.


Monday, October 27, 2008

12 Volt Shaved Ice and Snow Cone Machines

Are you looking for a true, portable, powerful commercial shaved ice or snow cone machine? Well, your search is almost over!

1-800-Shaved-Ice.com features 5 12v Shaved Ice machines and 3 12v Snow Cone Machines! These powerful, heavy duty machines are perfect those concessionaires who need to have completely portable set ups without worrying about an on-location power source. All of these machines will operate perfectly from a heavy duty, deep cycle battery.

So, if you need to have true portability in a shaved ice or snow cone machine, please visit 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com for more information about these fantastic machines. Now's the perfect time to purchase one while our fall sale is running too!

Which Business Structure is Right for You?

Are you still in the planning stages of your concessions business? If so, have you thought about what type of business structure is the most advantageous for you? I would encourage you to visit the Small Business Administration website to review the different business structure options that are available.

The SBA website does a nice job of outlining each classification (Sole Proprietorship, Partnerships, LLCs, etc.). It discusses the pros and cons of each fairly in depth. Again, as you are planning your business, I would encourage you to start researching each of these business types so that you can choose the best for your situation. If you are an existing concessionaire, but contemplating a change in the ownership structure of your company, I believe you will find this information equally helpful for your situation too.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Snowballs in Dallas

As I've said in previous posts, I always think it's wise to read as much as possible about the experiences of other concessionaires whenever possible. It never hurts to look at the successes and creativity that other owners have experienced.

I found this article today in the Dallas Morning News archives about a snowball stand in the Dallas area. The article is from 2007, but the information is still useful. The article discusses customer favorites and also gives some general pricing information.

Check it out when you get a chance. Enjoy~~

Monday, October 20, 2008

Spruce Up Your Cotton Candy

Looking for a way to attract more attention to your cotton candy stand? Start making and selling two color cotton candy! CottonCandyExpress.com offers the Twin Wind Two-Color Candy Machine. While it resembles many of our other high quality commercial floss machines, there actually are two spinning sugar compartments – each feeding its own heating element consecutively.

This high performance machine is a great way to create highly attractive, two color cotton candy. Order one today!

Make sure you also check out all of the different flavors and colors of floss sugar and concentrate that we offer. With so many different colors and flavors available, you will be able to create some unique combinations that will surely be a hit with your customers!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Good Resource for Special Events Vendors

If you own a concessions stand and enjoy working at various special events, you understand the value of having good resources for locating events. USCarnys.com seems to have a pretty good events section that may be of interest to you. Events are listed by state and then by date.

I looked through a couple of the state listings and there seems to be a decent amount of events shown along with good contact information. The only drawback is that most of the events shown are limited to fairs...there are no listings shown for arts and crafts festivals or music festivals. But, you may find an event that will work out well for your schedule, so I still encourage you to check it out. It's a good resource!

An Important Little Item

If you are a shaved ice or snow cone concessionaire, you should always use nightcaps on your syrup bottles. These handy little items are an important "savior" for your flavors when your stand is closed or not very busy. Nightcaps are a simple way to keep ants and other bugs out of your syrup bottles.

Nightcaps are a small expense that yield very favorable results for stand owners. Go to 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com and order some for your stand!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cotton Candy in the News

I found this interesting bit of information while surfing around on cnet. Looks like paper, has a picture of cotton candy and tastes like cotton candy. Kind of interesting, huh?

If you're interested, click on the "Related Stories" to find out more about Homaro Cantu and his Chicago restaurant Moto.

If you're interested in making, selling, or eating REAL cotton candy, please visit us at CottonCandyExpress.com!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Another Perspective on Shaved Ice

I always enjoy reading the thoughts and observations other people have about shaved ice. I found this post this evening and thought it was a good one to share. The pictures she includes of her "adventures with Taiwanese shaved ice" are awesome. Tasty and mouth-watering are the words that initially come to mind for me!

Check out the full article here. Be sure to read the comments too. All in all, it is just good insight from a shaved ice customer's perspective.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Valuable Customers Deserve Quality Products

Do you value your customers? The natural response to that question is , "well of course I do!" But, do you SHOW them how much you value their patronage? Again, the normal answer is, "why yes, I offer them excellent, friendly customer service." Now, do you show them how valuable they are through your products? Some people (if they're honest), will have to answer no to this question.

While it's important to be fiscally responsible and purchase goods that do the job well without breaking your budget, it's also important to make sure your goods and products are worth the money people are paying for it.

One good example of this in the shaved ice and snow cone industry is syrup flavors. Companies will invest thousands of dollars into machines, equipment, advertising, flashy cups or bowls, but then purchase the cheapest syrup flavors they can find.

The flavors you put on your snow cones or shaved ice is the most important part of what you are selling to the customer! Cheaply manufactured syrups generally taste...cheap.

Why not reward your customers with the best shaved ice and snow cone syrups possible? 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com has over 70 flavors of ready to use syrups and concentrates available. Our flavors have won first place in national taste tests!

I encourage you to order a couple of bottles to do your own taste test. We're confident that, after tasting our quality flavors, you will order more flavors from us.

Reward your customers with the best shaved ice and snow cone syrups available from 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Snow Cone and Shaved Ice Directory

I've been thinking about creating an online directory of snow cone and shaved ice vendors that is associated with our blog here. The directory would be created with two distinct categories: fixed locations and mobile operators. I would also like to include a Google map for those stands with fixed locations. The reason I think this would be a good idea is because I constantly see people posting questions in forums, blogs and other locations asking if someone "knows of a good snow cone stand in Phoenix" or "looking for shaved ice in Macon." So, let's create a comprehensive directory that will help customers find your location!

So, if you're the owner of a shaved ice or snow cone business and would like to be included in our directory, please leave me a comment here so I may contact you when I'm ready to get it going.


Ingenious Method of Making Cotton Candy

I found this article today over at Gizmodo. Someone snapped a great picture of a cotton candy vendor in China. Apparently, the floss head spins via pedal power. Pretty clever idea huh? To read more about it and see the full picture, please go to Gizmodo.

If you're interested in viewing cotton candy equipment that is less 'labor intensive', please go to CottonCandyExpress.com. We feature the best machines available on the Internet!

Creative Marketing

We've talked about creative marketing ideas several different times here in the blog. I feel that it marketing your business really can't be emphasized enough. Creating and keeping customers is the lifeblood of your business.

Previously, we have discussed the importance of "Free Day" for our own shaved ice stand years ago. Because of the tremendous impact it had on our own business, we at 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com strongly encourage the owners of shaved ice and snow cone stands to do the same thing.

If you think it's a crazy idea, here's another interesting tidbit about a guy who basically did the same thing:

"H.J. Heinz (2002 revenues of $9.4 billion) gave away samples of his pickles at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. His booth was stuck in a low-traffic location, so he hired kids to pass out tickets that promised a free souvenir for visiting his booth to get a pickle."

Maggie Overfelt, "A World (Fair) of Invention"
Fortune Small Business (April 2003)

As you are looking to your opening day for the Spring of 2009, I would encourage you to consider opening up the season with a free day. It's a great way to kick off the season by rewarding loyal customers and attracting new ones at the same time.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Small Business Administration Offers Free Online Courses

The SBA has an entire series of online courses available to business owners and people who are interested in starting their own business. These classes are FREE.

Topics range from how to start your own business and write a business plan to advertising and marketing your business. Currently, there are 31 different courses available.

The off season is a great time to brush up on some of these topics. The only cost to you is some of your time. What an excellent investment in your business! For those of you who are thinking of starting your own business, I would strongly encourage you to go through at least the first four classes in the Starting a Business category. I believe these courses will help you create a good solid foundation for your new business.

Check out all of the courses by visiting the Small Business Administration's website.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Auto Breeze Cotton Candy Machine: Simplest Commercial Machine Out There?

The Auto Breeze Cotton Candy Machine may be the easiest to use commercial floss maker in the industry. A large tubular heating element allows the Auto Breeze to produce twice the cotton candy as the regular Breeze. Accu control perfectly adjusts the voltage for perfect results.

No other adjustments are needed for this single switch operation machine.
Auto cool down simplifies the operation of machine by preventing spinner head clogging. It features a 1/5 hp spinner head motor, and a 1500 watt heat element. It also requires a 15 amp plug and 1440 watts.

This is a great machine for concession stands operated by volunteers or locations where owners wish to have a simple, easy to use machine for their staff. Order one today at CottonCandyExpress.com while they are on sale!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Do You Run a Concessions Stand for a Youth Sports Team?

If you head up or just work in a concessions stand for a youth sports team, you may find the following link helpful for your stand. The tips and suggestions listed here will help you create a successful and profitable concessions stand for your team. Check out this article at High School Baseball Web. By far my favorite suggestion listed there is:

"One chief with lots of indians works best. The person in charge will organize and oversee all concession activities. He/she will need people to help purchase goods, clean and stock, work and/or schedule concession help."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Additional Questions to Aid in Choosing a Shaved Ice Machine

The following are a few questions you need to ask yourself when deciding the best ice shaver for your business.

1. Is block ice available in your area? If not, a cube ice shaver may be your best choice. If you still prefer a block ice shaver you can make your own ice blocks using our block ice molds or by purchasing one of our block ice makers. We offer either round or rectangular block ice molds to fit the different types of block ice machines. The round block ice molds fit our Swan and Hatsuyuki Block Ice Shavers, where as the rectangular ice molds fit the New Orleans Snow Block Ice Shaver and the “Olde New Orleans” Block Shaver. Ice that is produced from our round block ice molds is 7 ½” in diameter. Our rectangular ice molds produce ice that is approximately 5 1/2" w x 5 1/2" h x 14 1/2" l. With both types of ice molds, block ice will be produced within 2 to 3 days.

2. What type of ice shavers does your competition use? If your prospective customers are accustomed to ice from block ice shavers you may prefer to purchase a shaved ice block shaver for your business. If your prospective customers are accustomed to ice from cube ice shavers, you may prefer the cube ice shaver.

3. Who will be using the ice shaver? If the ice shaver is being used by a large variety of people, a cube ice shaver may be your best choice. For example, at school athletic concession stands you may have different volunteers from week to week. Thus a cube ice shaver which tends to require the least amount of training will most likely work best in this type of situation. If you have employees that are at your business daily, a block ice shaver should work well. The block ice shavers take a little more skill to operate. Often an hour or two of hands on training are needed to properly train your employees.

4. Who are your customers? A major thing to think about is your customer base. For example, a neighborhood shaved ice stand will be dependent on repeat business. Ideally, customers at neighborhood stands will come back, day after day, week after week. In order to create this loyalty you will have to produce a high quality product. For this, look at the block machines for top quality fluffy snow.
However, if you are mobile shaved ice business and your customers vary are not repeat customers, try a cube ice shaver. An example of this business may be a county fair, parade or festival. Since the repeat business is not as vital to your business, you may not have to rely on the fluffiest ice possible. The cube ice shavers will still produce a good quality product that should be sufficient for mobile locations.

5. How fast do you need to serve customers? If you are at a large festival or carnival and expect a large line of customers, the cube ice shaver may be your best choice. We have cube shavers that can easily serve more than 2000 servings a day. If you needed to serve 2000 people with a block ice shaver you would need 2 to 3 machines.

6. If you business permanent or mobile? Most mobile business use cube ice shavers while most permanent business use block ice shavers. Block shavers are generally much bulkier and heavier than the cube ice shaver counterparts. The cube shaved ice machines are generally much more compact and take up far less space.

By asking yourself these questions and examining your needs and goals for your business, we are confident that you will be able to choose a machine that will benefit your business for years. If you have any questions regarding the best machine for your needs, please feel free to contact us through our website at 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com.

The Differences Between Cube Ice Shavers and Block Ice Shavers

What type of machine do you need?

Your snow cone or shaved ice machine will be the lifeline to your business. Without a quality machine, your business will not survive. As we stated before, we offer the largest variety of shaved ice and snow cone machines that will meet the heavy demands of any shaved ice or snow cone business. All of our machines are manufactured to the highest standards to provide years of durability and service.

We often are asked the difference between cube ice shavers and block ice shavers. We offer so many models of machines, it can be a little overwhelming when trying to make a decision. Please review the following information for help on deciding what type of ice shaver will be best suited for your business. We also have an online machine help center. At our machine help center, we offer an interactive web application that will assist you in finding the best machine for your business. It is very handy!

In terms of fluffiness, we often compare the snow cones and the shaved ice on a Fluffiness Rank of one to ten with one being chunks of ice and ten being like snow. Shaved ice would rank anywhere from a 7 to a 9 depending on the machine you are using. Snow cones would rank around a 5 or a 6. You will see our Ice Scale rank for all our machines located in the chart. Remember on the scale, 10 is like snow, 1 is like chunks of ice.

The next article will discuss more factors that play an important role in which machine you should ultimately choose for your business.

**This is a modified excerpt from our COLD CASH business manual. If you would like to receive this manual in its entirety, please visit us at 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fall and Winter is a Good Time to Focus on Your Concessions Business

While the title may make a few of you say, "Huh?...I'm not busy in the fall and winter", that's exactly my point. While you are NOT busy serving customers, ordering supplies, setting up at special events, etc. it is a good time to focus on your business. The off season provides excellent opportunity to examine your business, your method of operating, needs/wants, and see if you need to make a change.

Set aside some time to honestly review your business. What are you doing well? What sets your company apart from your competitors? Why do customers like your products and services? In doing this, you may see an opportunity to grow your business even more or capitalize on a particular service or product.

On the reverse side, what are you doing that may be hurting your business? What is not effective? Are there products or services that should be eliminated? While it may be painful and possibly expensive to cut a product or service, it may be in the best interest for your business in the long run.

Evaluation is always a good thing. It will only help you run your business more efficiently and effectively. So, while you have the time over the next few months, I would encourage you to thoroughly and honestly review your business to see what's successful and what needs to change. While you are taking the time to review your business, please feel free to contact us at CustomerCare@1-800-Shaved-Ice.com with questions that may arise. We would be happy to help!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Recommended Reading: "The Art of the Start"

With the typical off season approaching for most concessionaires, I thought it would be a good idea to start recommending some good material for everyone. The first book that I would highly recommend to folks who are new in business or just thinking about starting their own business is called, The Art of the Start.

The full, official name of the book is The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything, written by Guy Kawasaki. Guy is well known as one of the individuals responsible for the success of Apple's Macintosh computer. He is now the managing director of Garage Technologies, an early stage venture capital firm for high-technology companies.

The Art of the Start is very useful in taking a concept and growing it in to reality. Kawasaki uses the term GIST frequently through the book. GIST (Great Ideas for Starting Things) will become a well known term and mode of operating for you if you choose to read his book.

I'll be exploring a few points from his book that I think are of great importance to concessionaires in future blog posts. If you have read this book, please feel free to leave comments with your thoughts and reactions to the content. I would greatly appreciate hearing from you.

Friday, August 29, 2008

American Idol Star tries Her Hand at Spinning Cotton Candy

She's not doing such a bad job of spinning that floss on to a cone! :)

Many people question the nutritional content of cotton candy. Honestly, it's not that bad of a snack! Check out the nutritional information for a regular serving of cotton candy found at CottonCandyExpress.com.

CottonCandyExpress.com has virtually everything you need to start your own cotton candy business. Check it out. We know you'll like what you see there!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thinking of Jumping into the Shaved Ice or Snow Cone Business?

I've posted information about this before, but it's always a good idea to get important tools out there in the forefront.

If you are thinking about starting your own shaved ice or snow cone concessions business, 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com has a fantastic resource for you. Best of all...IT'S COMPLETELY FREE!!!

COLD CASH, which is the title of our 106 page business manual is filled with time tested tips on how to open and operate your own shaved ice stand. Topics covered include:

Types of Shaved Ice and Snow Cone Machines
RTU Syrups and Flavor Concentrates
Secret Specialty Recipes
Business Revenue and Expenses
Business Equipment & Supplies
State and Local Business Requirements
and Much, Much More!

COLD CASH is an excellent resource and we encourage you to visit our site, 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com and request a copy for yourself.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

1-800-Shaved-Ice.com Enjoys Satisfying Its Customers' Needs

We have stressed this many times before, but it's such an important issue to remember in any customer service based industry. At 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com, we always enjoy feedback from our customers. Fortunately, due to hard work and the desire to properly service our customers, most of the feedback we receive is positive! We are very thankful for our customers!

Here are a couple examples of feedback from the many wonderful customers we get to interact with:

"Great Customer Service! Could not be more pleased! They were wonderful and I'll continue to do business with them. A great company! Fabulous! Wish more companies had this type of customer service."
Martha, WA

"I've had very good experience from this company. Their follow up on orders is excellent. My customers love their flavors. I'll continue to order my supplies from them since they have the best prices."
Mari, CA

"I've been very pleased. My order got here exactly when they said it would and has proven to be everything that they said it would be. I highly recommend doing business with 1-800-Shaved-Ice!!!"
Mark, OK

So, if you're in the shaved ice, snow cone or cotton candy business and you're looking for a new supplier...give us a call (1-800-Shaved-Ice) or email us (CustomerCare@1-800-Shaved-Ice.com)! We would truly appreciate the opportunity to earn your business!

Using Flavor Concentrates from 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com to Make Your Own Flavored Syrups

Flavor concentrates
are a much more economical way for higher volume shaved ice or snow cone businesses to operate. If you choose to make your own flavored syrups, you can cut your syrup cost by about 70% to 80% by making your own snow cone or shaved ice syrup. Simply purchase the desired flavor concentrates, add simple syrup (see recipe link in the last blog article) and you are ready to go. A quart of shaved ice or snow cone concentrate will flavor 8 gallons of syrup or 32 quarts. A gallon of shaved ice or snow cone concentrate will flavor 32 gallons of syrup or 128 quarts.

Don't forget that these flavor concentrates feature the same quality ingredients that have won several awards for 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com in national taste tests!

Please be sure to review the last two articles here in the blog. They also address various aspects of producing your own simple syrup, necessary preservatives and equipment, etc.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Simple Syrup Recipe

If you are looking for a great way to save money on your syrups, you should consider making your own simple syrup and then purchase your flavor concentrates from 1-800-
Shaved-Ice.com. Simple syrup, also known as sugar water, is the base for all flavors in any snow cone or shaved ice business. Simple syrup and flavor concentrates are combined to create each bottle of ready-to-use syrup.

Learn more about our simple syrup recipe, flavor concentrates, and the equipment needed for making your own syrup at 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com.

Do You Make Your Own Simple Syrup?

All of the ready-to-use shaved ice and snow cone syrups offered at 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com come preserved and have a shelf life of at least 7 months. However, if you plan to purchase our concentrates and mix your own simple syrup at home, you will need to add preservatives to your syrup in order to extend the shelf life.

Unpreserved simple syrup only has a shelf life of 5 to 14 days. To increase the shelf life of your syrup, simply add 1 ounce of sodium benzoate and 1/4 ounce of citric acid to each gallon of syrup that you make. Adding the correct amounts of sodium benzoate and citric acid to your syrup can extend the shelf life to around six months. Please note that neither preservative will work without the addition of the other one.

One gallon of sodium benzoate (128 ounces) will preserve 128 gallons of simple syrup.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cotton Candy Packages, Just in Time for School!

Attention Parent/Teacher organizations, booster clubs and other school organizations! Are you looking for a new addition to your school year fund-raising capabilities? Look no further! Add a Cotton Candy Machine to your snack bar or fund-raising events and score big! Making and selling cotton candy is a great way to create additional funds for any program.

The Cotton Candy Starter Package from CottonCandyExpress.com is perfect for any beginner or small fund-raising organization. This complete package can serve up to approximately 60-80 servings per hour.

Our package comes complete with the following:

Floss Boss Cotton Candy Machine (#3024) - upgrade to bigger machine if needed. 1000 *Floss Cones
*1 case of Flossugar, your choice of flavor
*Whirl Grip Floss Stabilizer

Order it while it is still on sale and save even more for your organization!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Secrets of the Snow Cone Lady: Angela's Story

I recently came across a newspaper article that discussed Angela Mattox, who owns a snow cone stand along with her husband. It's interesting to read about her life and her business. She has made some interesting connections through her snow cone stand.

I always enjoy reading about the relationships that business owners have developed with their customers. I think it gives some interesting insight into how to operate a successful service business. Operating a snow cone business is definitely service oriented! Information and advice that you can glean from a "seasoned veteran" is always helpful!

Anyhow, check out the article and enjoy. Her book may be purchased at Amazon if you are interested in it too. All proceeds from the sales of her book are being donated to the Disabled American Veterans.

**If you are interested in receiving more information and tips on running a successful shaved ice or snow cone business, visit 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com and request their free business manual. It is full of helpful information for people who are thinking about opening up a business or are already in business.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Funny Article about Snowballs and Snow Cones in the St. Louis Area

I found this article this morning while perusing the World Wide Web for interesting tidbits about the world of shaved ice and snow cones (and snow balls). If you have a moment, check out the article in the River Front Times. My suggestion to the writer...skip the therapist and just order a few more snow cones and snow balls. It's cheaper, much more refreshing, and certainly less irritating! Have fun! ~~