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.