Monday, March 31, 2008

How long is the average shaved ice or snow cone season?

Since shaved ice and snow conesk tend to sell better in warmer climates, the season for each part of the United States will be different.

Many stands throughout the southern portion of the United States will generally be open from March to October. With mild winters and warm summers, states like Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona are great for lengthy shaved ice seasons. In fact, in some places, shaved ice and snow cone businesses stay open year round because of mild winters.

In the mid to upper part of the United States, shaved ice businesses are generally open from April to October. The farther north you go, the shorter the season. However, as with almost any rule, there are exceptions. After a little experience in the business, you will have a better understanding of your area.

There will be a couple of things that you will need to keep in mind to help you deciding on the length of your shaved ice or snow cone season. First of all, take a look to see when the other shaved ice businesses, if any, in your area open. We suggest opening around the same time, if not sooner than your competition. We have found that after a long winter’s break, customers from previous seasons are always eager to celebrate spring with their first shaved ice purchase. The first three to four weeks of our season tends to always be the busiest because of this reason.

In early spring, some businesses may begin to open only on weekends. After a few weeks, or until warmer weather sets in, these shaved ice or snow cone businesses often begin to open daily. This again will be up to you and your geographic area.

Many shaved ice and snow cone businesses plan their season around school schedules too. Because the majority of their customers are children, this is an important factor to consider. Generally speaking, it's best to look at other seasonal businesses in your area and see when they open and how long their season runs.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Create Rainbows and Attract more Customers

Kids go crazy about almost any rainbow combination that you create with a snow cone or shaved ice. Simply use a variety of colored syrups in order to produce a rainbow effect. Start pouring syrups, one at a time, in straight lines starting from one side of your shaved ice or snow cone cup to the other. Use colors that when mixed together will create a new, third color. For example, if you use Banana (Yellow) on one side of the container and use Bubble Gum (Blue) on the other side of the container, a green strip will form down the middle (yellow and blue make green). It will look as if three flavors were used when in reality you only used two. However, it creates a visual affect that is extremely appealing to lots of customers (not just kids). We often charged an additional 25 to 50 cents for rainbows.

This is a great way to create additional revenue on a sale. It also draws attention to the product. This is an effective tool for vendors, especially those that are participating in street fairs, special events or are located in a high traffic area where lots of people are walking.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Cleaning Tips for Cotton Candy Machines

Maintaining and keeping your cotton candy machine will ensure years of good, reliable service. Keeping your machine clean is also an effective way of providing a good tasting product that will keep customers coming back for more.

These are the tips that recommends to all of their customers:

• Make sure all of the sugar is out of the floss head by running the machine until the sugar is completely gone.
• In order to remove carbon from the ribbons, be sure to empty the machine and turn the heat to the highest setting for at least one minute.
• Always unplug the main electrical supply cord after using the machine.
• Use a clean, damp cloth to wipe off the floss head. NEVER allow water directly into the floss head!
• Make sure all parts are dry before operating the machine again.

Again, by following these four simple steps, you will prolong the life and quality performance of your cotton candy machine. Make sure that all of your employees are aware of how to properly clean your machine!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Shaved Ice in the News

This morning I came across this article that mentions a shaved ice stand in the Salt Lake City, Utah area. While the article is two years old, it does offer some insight from the customer's point of view. The article also gives some pricing details along with menu items that may or may not be of interest to you. This article is worth taking a look at simply because it will spark some thought about your own shaved ice business and what you are doing to please and attract customers.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Specialty Recipes for Shaved Ice

Are you looking for some new recipes to add some pizazz to your menu? Try our shaved ice recipes to add some variety to your flavor menu! Who knows…you may find some of these recipes as inspiration to create your own line of signature recipes!

The recipes listed below are will make one gallon of ready-to-use syrup. Simply add the ingredients to a gallon jug, top off with preserved simple syrup, cap and shake well. If quart sizes are needed for any of the following specialty recipes, simply divide the measurements by 4.

Sours Flavors

Great when used with Grape, Cherry, Strawberry or Watermelon

4 ounces of Citric Acid
4 ounces of Flavor Concentrate (your choice)

Wine Coolers

Give your favorite flavor a fruity twist by combining it with our tasty Wine Cooler Concentrate. This combination works great with Cherry, Blueberry, Peach, Strawberry, Raspberry, etc.

3 ounces of Wine Cooler Concentrate
1 ounce of Desired Flavor Concentrate


Great when combined with Blackberry, Strawberry, Peach, Banana, Raspberry, etc.

3 ounce of Daiquiri Concentrate
1 ounce of Desired Flavor Concentrate


Let you imagination go wild by creating your own Margarita flavors. Great with Strawberry, Peach, etc.

3 ounces of Margarita Concentrate
1 ounce of Desired Flavor Concentrate

Please check back as we will be offering more recipes for signature shaved ice flavorings.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Reward your Loyal Customers

If your concessions business is in a location where you encounter loyal, repeat customers you should consider creating a "customer loyalty program." Punch cards, loyalty cards, club cards, frequency cards...whatever you want to call them, these business card sized tools are an effective marketing tool for your concessions business. They act as a simple way to reward customers who frequently purchase from you. They also act as an incentive for people to purchase more from you as well. When people see their card with 8 punches...they'll grab a friend or family member and head out to 'treat' them (why not...they buy their own and their friend or family member gets the free one). Of course there's nothing wrong with redeeming the card and have a customer reward themself with a free one too!

An excellent online resource for creating and printing loyalty cards is They have many pre-designed templates that can be used, but also give you the ability to use one of their artists to create a custom design for you. Their pricing is very fair and the quality of their products is extremely good. Check out their punch cards and create one for your concessions company today. Start rewarding those loyal customers!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

We have been Selected as a Top 50 Blog!

Today we received word from Evan Carmichael that was selected as a Top 50 Blog for 2008 by their site. Please make sure you visit Evan's site and read the article. There are some great resources listed there that will be valuable to anyone engaged in any type of business. We are thrilled to be recognized by Evan and appreciate the exposure!

We will continue to highlight developments in the concessions industry and bring tips and suggestions to concessions owners everywhere. Have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tips and Suggestions for Operating your Slush Machine

Below is a list of tips and suggestions that we recommend to our customers who operate slush machines. We hope that you will find them helpful and applicable to your business.

• If you are using the machine outside, make sure that that it stays out of direct sunlight. Direct sunlight will slow down the freezing process. Make sure you are under some type of awning or in the shade.

• Remember if you are using alcohol in your machine to allot extra time for freezing. Alcohol takes 4 to 5 hours to freeze. Make sure the mixture is frozen before the alcohol is added to mixture, and it is best for the alcohol to be chilled before it is added.

• The majority of slush machines on the market can freeze 1.5 gallons in approximately 30 minutes.

• If you are using an extension cord, we suggest using an industrial type cord, 12-gauge or higher. You want to make sure that are connected to a dedicated source of power. Make sure that you place the extension cord out of the way, eliminating the possibility of any customers or employees tripping on it and injuring themselves.

• Machines produce better slush when the machine is full of mixture. This allows for a more consistent product that will be evenly frozen.

• Whether you are placing your machine on a table, counter-top, or stand, make
sure your machine is on a sturdy, safe, stable surface. You do not want your machine to shake while in production.

• When mixing your slush ingredients, regular tap water will work fine with the mixture(s). You may also use filtered water in your slush machine but it is completely your preference.

Monday, March 10, 2008

I Can’t Seem to Pull Out an Entire Napkin!

Originally, this silly, 'rant' of an article was written with restaurants in mind. However, the same principle applies to your concession stands as well. It sounds silly, but make sure your customers can grab a napkin from your dispenser easily. Remember, sometimes it’s the simplest things that make the biggest impressions on your customers! Have fun reading this…but take it with a grain of salt too!

Okay, this may seem a little trivial to some folks, but to me it is a true source of irritation. It seems to me that many restaurant employees do not know how to fill a napkin holder properly. Whether it is a fast food establishment or a casual dining restaurant, if they have paper napkin dispensers, most likely they are so overloaded that I only get shreds of paper out of them instead of a whole napkin.

Now, let’s step back and analyze this situation for a moment. Why are napkin holders overfilled? I have a hard time coming up with a good reason. Honestly now, how many extra napkins are they jamming in there compared to the amount a customer wastes trying to get just ONE good one? I don’t think it’s worth it.

Is it too much to ask that the napkin holders are filled properly? Can I please just reach for a napkin and gently pull one, complete napkin free from the dispenser? Do I have to pull strip after strip hoping that I’ll get a large enough partial napkin to actually use?

How many extra times per shift would an employee have to refill those properly filled napkin holders? Perhaps they will have to fill them one, two, maybe three extra times? In my estimation, the amount of wasted napkins would most likely offset the extra time spent on refilling napkin holders. To be very frank, I don’t think any extra time is needed, I think it can still be properly done within any competent employee’s shift.

So watch out Burger King, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Friendly’s (the worst one so far) and all other restaurants with paper napkin dispensers! You’ve been called out. What’s your response? Are you going to keep making your customers use partially shredded napkins out of convenience to you? Or are you going to look at your customer’s frustrations and ease their pain?!

An Excellent Tool for High Volume Cotton Candy Locations

Do you own or operate a high volume, cotton candy stand? If you do, we have a tool that will help you streamline your production of cotton candy! features a Compact Floss Bag Blower. A Floss Bag Blower is a necessity for any medium to high volume cotton candy location. The blower shoots air down along the front lip of the bags on the header. By the time you’ve made another serving, the bag is open, ready to be filled with that tasty treat again.

A Floss Bag Blower is an inexpensive investment that will more than pay for itself by increasing your product time, allowing you to sell more cotton candy per hour. Order one today and you'll have it in time for your Spring opening!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


There are many different ways to kick off the new season for your shaved ice stand. There are many different ways to have a grand opening for your new shaved ice location too. The most effective form of advertising that we have ever used though was an idea that we had on opening day back in 1994.

We were new to area and there wasn’t another shaved ice stand around for 30 miles. Local people knew what snow cones were but they were not familiar with shaved ice. So on opening day, we placed colorful helium balloons all around our location. We also placed a large lettered, roadside sign beside the highway in front of our building that read “Grand Opening, Shaved Ice, 32 Flavors, FREE SAMPLES.” To kick off our business, we gave samples of shaved ice away on the first day for FREE. In fact we gave away around 430, 6 ounce cups of shaved ice that first day. We had a line of customers outside our stand all day long which help to create additional curiosity for passing motorists.

The next day we sold over $170.00 of shaved ice. The following day we sold over $300 and from that day forward, we never looked back! For around $40 (the total cost of all the shaved ice given away on opening day), we launched our business and soon became the talk of the town. The week following our grand opening was crazy! Sales were great and customers were happy. Many of the customers that bought from us the first week were the same people that had stopped in for a free cup of shaved ice on opening day. However, the majority of the customers were brand new. They were customers who were curious about the new business in town or they had learned about us from previous customers. Since our first ‘Free’ day, word of mouth advertising has proven to be the most lucrative form of advertising for our business.

We encourage every shaved ice stand to have a Free Day. It’s a great way to kick off the new season, attract new customers, reward customers from last season and create a buzz around your stand. It’s also a fantastic way to kick off the word of mouth referrals that are incredibly valuable to any business!

Customer Service with a Smile!

Isn’t it irritating to try and do business with a company only to be faced with rude, inconsiderate people? Whether you are dealing with them over the phone, through email, or in person…it just irks you. I know it does for me. My first reaction is always, “hey…I’m trying to patronize your business…treat me with some respect.” My second reaction is generally, “this is the last time I do business here.” I think those reactions are pretty common with most people when faced with inconsiderate customer service.

Fortunately, you never have to worry about that with Whether you call us, email us or stop in at our physical location, you will always be treated with respect. Customer service reigns supreme in everything we do! Everyone involved in our operation “gets it.” They understand the simple fact that if you don’t take care of your customers, the end result is that you won’t have any customers and then you won’t have a job. Everyone in our company strives to make sure the customer always gets the best possible each and every time they choose to do business with us.

Here’s a recent example of how we interact with every one of our customers:

"My experience with this company has been very positive in every way. I have placed orders via their website and have always received exactly what I ordered and in a very timely manner. I have placed phone orders with several different customer service people and I have always received very friendly, courteous and helpful conversations and the same accuracy and speed of shipment. My experience with this company could not be more satisfactory. Great selection, service, attitude, and prices!"

That’s the way we do it every single time!