4 Traits of Successful Ice Cream Shops

In a competitive industry like ice cream, standing out in a crowded field is the hardest part of the business. There’s no single formula for success, but there are certain actions that lead to it. Connecting with your community, using an intuitive ice cream shop POS system, and tapping into the latest dessert trends are just a few. Below, we reveal the four traits of successful ice cream shops.

Serving Artisan Ice Cream

Ordinary flavors like vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate are taking a backseat to unique flavors. For the past couple of years, artisan ice cream has been one of the hottest dessert trends, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

Artisan ice creams are decadent, unusual, and 100% enticing to diners. Think rose-water gelato with pistachio shavings, or pecan pie with cinnamon-nutmeg swirls. These are the new stars of the show. Instead of a scoop of vanilla ice cream with a brownie, this latest dessert trend calls for brownie-filled ice cream. Restaurant chefs are having fun with the concept, opting to prepare their own artisanal recipes in-house.

Now is the time to flex your creative muscles and surprise customers with new, dreamy ice cream flavors. The demand is high for unique and tempting ice creams, and this is one trend you don’t want to ignore. In the upcoming months, you’ll find that success comes with serving specially crafted artisanal ice creams.

Ben and Jerry’s ice cream takes the cake when it comes to artisan and specialty ice cream flavors. They’re always trying something new. Their company story is an inspiration to many small ice cream shops with big dreams. Almost everyone has a favorite flavor from their wide ice cream selection, and they celebrate innovation in new types of artisan ice cream.

Let your customers make suggestions for new flavors, and get them involved in the process. A great social media marketing tactic that many big companies are taking advantage of is trying out new flavors and letting customers vote on their favorites. Giving customers a chance to vote gets them into your shop to try new flavors and engages them on social media to grow your reach online. Get people excited to try something new, and they’ll share their excitement with their friends.

MenuDrive Pro Tip: Strike a deal as an exclusive ice cream provider in your community of restaurants. Since the artisan ice cream trend is influencing dessert menus in restaurants, connect with local restaurateurs and chefs for an ice cream partnership. Some kitchens don’t have the manpower or knowledge to create artisan ice creams, but they want to add special ice creams to their menus. Fill this niche demand!

Location and Storefront

The power of a great ice cream parlor location is inarguable. Not only is ice cream considered a treat, but it’s also viewed as an impulse buy. This makes having a high-visibility location a necessity: The more foot traffic that passes by, the more customers who order ice cream on a whim.

If your store location doesn’t have a lot of foot traffic, you need to lead people to your door. While you can rely on social media and flyers, a more aggressive marketing approach might be better suited: specifically, in the form of guerrilla marketing.

Here are some ideas for using guerrilla marketing tactics to attract more foot traffic to your location:

  • Spray-painting a trail of ice cream cones on the sidewalk, starting from the main road
  • Planting an employee on a busy corner in a makeshift ice cream stand to point interested passersby to your actual ice cream parlor
  • Wrapping your personal car in your logo and address, and parking it in high-traffic areas
  • Passing out free samples of ice cream at farmer’s markets, local fairs, and mall parking lots, with a printout of directions

There are no limits to the creativity you can practice when it comes to guerrilla tactics.

Additionally, the look of your ice cream shop is as important as the quality of your ice cream. Once people arrive at your address, get them to cross the threshold with an inviting and cheerful store display.

Community Connection

Amy Simmons, owner of the popular Austin, TX-based ice cream shop Amy’s Ice Cream, doesn’t rely on traditional marketing to win new customers. Instead, she participates in community outreach programs and charity work to reinforce her ice cream brand among locals. With 15 storefronts throughout Texas, it’s proof of a winning strategy.

Having a connection to their communities is a trait of many successful ice cream parlors. That’s because ice cream is an accessory to special moments and togetherness.

Urban planner and writer Dan Reed explains how instrumental ice cream shops are to building local cultures in communities. He cites a few reasons as to why:

  • Everyone likes ice cream.
  • You don’t need an ID to buy ice cream.
  • It’s an affordable luxury.
  • Ice cream melts quickly, which leaves customers lingering outside on the street.

Reed says that ice cream shops can transform regular streets into busy local centers. So whether your ice cream shop is new or third-generation, consider how much you’re connecting with your community. If you’re not sure where to start, connect first with your neighborhood’s charities and local departments of commerce.

Get involved with local events, sponsor a little league team, or donate to a local charitable cause to increase your impact in the community. Be the first choice in the neighborhood to celebrate with ice cream.

Ice Cream Is Magic

Perhaps the most important trait of all: knowing that what you serve is a scoop of magic.

Ice cream is more than just a sweet confection; it’s a feeling. Amy Simmons went into the ice cream business not just because she loves ice cream, but because she enjoys the effect it has on customers.

“People don’t just go to an ice cream store because they’re hungry,” she reveals. “They go because they’re happy or because they want to celebrate or because they’re going on a date. It can be a reward. There’s something about it that’s just bigger than a food.”

Play up the magic of ice cream by hiring warm staff members, building an inviting ice cream space, and putting your all into creating one-of-a-kind flavors that light up your customers’ day. Train your staff to have great customer service skills, and remind them to treat customers like guests in their home. A smile is contagious, so hire workers whose happiness feels contagious.

Steve Albrecht of Psychology Today insists that going out for ice cream has positive effects on the mind and lifts your mood. Ice cream must be made of magic then; you’ll never see an unhappy person eating ice cream unless they just dropped their scoop on the floor!

Every ice cream shop has its own style. Incorporate these traits so they reflect your unique brand.

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