What Are the Different Types of Ice Cream Franchise Opportunities?

Judith Smith Sullivan
Judith Smith Sullivan
An ice cream cone.
An ice cream cone.

There are a wide variety of ice cream franchise opportunities. They can be categorized as brick and mortar shops, vending machines, and event-based mobile units. Typically, the start up cost of brick and mortar ice cream shops is highest, but royalties and franchise fees vary from company to company.

Brick and mortar shops are probably the most common of ice cream franchise opportunities. There are dozens of brand names, each with their own specialty. Some have special preparation methods, and others build their fan base by having the most flavors. Many franchises deal not only with ice cream but with other frozen treats like frozen yogurt, sherbet, and sorbet. Others have a broader range, including food, coffee, or chocolates and candies.

Soft serve ice cream.
Soft serve ice cream.

Most brick and mortar franchises require a significant amount of experience as well as capital from the owner or investor. In many cases, the owner or major investors must work in the franchise before purchasing one. It is also a common requirement that owners work in their own franchise for a number of years before turning it over to a manager.

The cost of start-up capital varies depending on the company and location. If a building is rented or owned, the required amount of capital for ice cream franchise opportunities is usually reduced. If it must be built, it will generally cost more. Proof of liquid assets, typically not from business loans, is generally required, but this requirement varies from company to company.

Frozen yogurt.
Frozen yogurt.

Event-based ice cream vendors are ice cream stands or kiosks that are often found at theme parks, shopping malls, or at other busy outdoor areas. The start up cost can be substantial, though not as much as brick and mortar stores. Since no actual building is required, and the rent for space is minimal, the required start up capital is a smaller amount.

Gas stations often sell ice cream.
Gas stations often sell ice cream.

Ice cream vending machines provide either scoop ice cream or prepackaged ice cream treats. In this case, the owner is typically required to oversee operation of the vending machine, arrange for repairs, keep it regularly stocked, and collect monies. As with any franchise, royalties and franchise fees are deducted from the earnings.

Usually, the start up cost of vending machines is much lower than those for other types of franchise. The unit itself is part of the cost as well as the inventory, franchise fees, and royalties. In many cases, vending machine owners must also partner with businesses to arrange for placement of the machine. These businesses are typically gas stations, malls, schools, or any other area with a lot of foot traffic. Usually, the vending owner must pay a fee or percentage of earnings to the partner.

Brick and mortar shops are the most common ice cream franchise opportunities.
Brick and mortar shops are the most common ice cream franchise opportunities.

Not all ice cream franchise opportunities are built from scratch. When an owner sees fit, he or she can sell the franchise to a qualified investor. Companies have certain limitations and regulations concerning the exchange, but owners can ultimately sell their franchise if they want.

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    • An ice cream cone.
      By: dim@dim
      An ice cream cone.
    • Soft serve ice cream.
      By: m.u.ozmen
      Soft serve ice cream.
    • Frozen yogurt.
      By: sonnenklang
      Frozen yogurt.
    • Gas stations often sell ice cream.
      By: fhmedien_de
      Gas stations often sell ice cream.
    • Brick and mortar shops are the most common ice cream franchise opportunities.
      By: Viktor
      Brick and mortar shops are the most common ice cream franchise opportunities.
    • Franchisers may opt to open an ice cream store in a shopping mall's food court.
      By: Monkey Business
      Franchisers may opt to open an ice cream store in a shopping mall's food court.