When it is July and the temperatures are near 100 degrees, it is no problem to imagine business booming in the local ice cream shop. When the ground is frozen and the air is chilled, many ice cream businesses think that they need to close up shop. Before you rush to a decision, consider your options about selling ice cream in winter.
It may seem counterintuitive to try to keep business running through the winter. However, there are several reasons why staying open may be a benefit to your establishment. There are three things you might consider keeping your ice cream parlor open for 4 seasons.
Location always plays a huge role in how a business operates. If your business is in a warmer climate with low chances for snow, it may be an ideal place to maintain an ice cream business. You may even see wintertime tourists offer a boost to your business as they visit to escape their colder climates at home.
Some business owners own their property, but many pay rent for their business space. In this instance, they often are required to pay rent year-round. It may be in the best interest of the business to remain open through the winter months in order to maintain the ability to pay rent. In these cases, businesses may choose other options beyond closing for the season. A business may reduce hours, adjust menus, or limit staffing to offset the reduced traffic.
Many customers still look to ice cream year-round for celebrations or just to satisfy a sweet craving. Keeping your business open while others may be closed, can keep your brand on customers’ minds. When the busier days of summer return, that memory can bring those same customers back!
Strategies For Selling Ice Cream in Winter
If you do decide to keep your soft serve ice cream shop open year-round there are some strategies that can help keep things successful. For a product that tends to be seasonal, it can be even that much more important. Customers will want to satisfy their cravings even in the winter months, and if your product is that good, people will make it out no matter what the weather
The number one thing any business needs is a quality product. This applies no matter what type of business or what time of year.
In the winter months, it may be wise to scale back business hours. Perhaps staying open only in the evenings, or even only on weekends during the winter will maximize availability during high traffic times but also reduce costs. As a bonus, limited availability may also increase demand for your product.
In addition to pairing down opening hours, ice cream businesses may also choose to hire seasonal staff. Seasonal staff can offer you flexibility. Hiring workers during the busy season with the understanding that the work is temporary, allows you to reduce staff in the slow season and save on payroll.
Reducing staff and hours will save on overhead during the winter. Another way to cut spending is to limit menu options in the winter months. Work with suppliers to order fewer products to match the lower demand. You will have less product to worry about selling but will still have the old favorites on hand for your die-hard fans.
An ice cream business may reduce hours, reduce staff, and reduce production for the winter season. But everything does not have to be reduced. Perhaps consider specialty flavors to offer only in the winter months. Some options may be a candy cane, gingerbread, or eggnog flavor. Seasonal toppings are another option for the winter months.
Rather than just reducing menu options, you may consider a major change-up. Offer your reduced options, but perhaps add warm drinks such as teas, coffees, hot chocolates, and hot cider. You may choose to add seasonal desserts, especially ones that pair well with ice creams such as pie or warm brownies. You could take it a step further by offering warm soups to go with the season. The two extremities of hot soup or drinks and cold ice cream can make life that much more interesting for your customers!
In the winter months, it can be even more essential to keep customers engaged. Options include sales, promotions, coupons, specials, advertisements, and social media. In winter, customers sometimes need more motivation to go outside of the house. Posting mouth-watering pictures of your product can remind them of what you have to offer and be enough to get them out the door and on the road to your shop.
Once they arrive, offer customers a reason to take pictures and share them online. Let them do promotions for your business! Create a visual display that attracts photos. Install a sculpture, an art piece, something funny, something cool, or something fun.
In addition to these indoor visual opportunities for spreading the word about your business through customer pictures, don’t forget outdoors. If you are open in the winter, draw attention to your business with fantastic Christmas or other holiday decorations. It also offers another opportunity for those great social media pictures.
To-Go Ice Cream in Winter Months
Especially in the slower season, offering customers the option of taking your product with them broadens the potential for sales. Ice cream cakes are another to-go option. These options can boost business not just in the winter months, but year-round.
Another strategy for maintaining your soft-serve ice cream business through the winter months is to form a business partnership. Look for businesses that already thrive in the winter and that are a good match for your product. Other businesses that involve physical activity can make a good match. Ice cream tastes great after physical activity. For example, skating rinks and ski resorts thrive in the winter.
Taylor Freezer of Michigan can help meet your needs whichever season it is. All these strategies can help your business keep going through the winter, and we can help! Our job at Taylor of Michigan is to provide you with products, parts, and services to make your business a success
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