Updated on: September 22nd, 2023

How to Start an Ice Cream Truck Business (17 Basics Guide)

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Who doesn’t fondly remember that feeling of elation upon hearing the iconic melody of an ice cream truck zooming down their street on a hot summer day? As children, we’d beg our parents for some coins to join in with other kids from around the area and purchase our favorite icy treat – be it a frozen popsicle or even an ice cream sandwich.

Growing up, the ice cream truck was nothing more than just a fun treat. Now as an aspiring vendor and mobile shop owner, it’s time to comprehend the inner workings (or rather – creamy concoctions!) of how to succeed in this delectable specialty food business.

If your ambition is to start an ice cream truck business that turns a profit, you’ve come to the right place! This article will walk you through how to make your dream a reality, from saving time and money by outsourcing certain parts of the process. Get ready – it’s time for you to become a successful small business owner with your very own ice cream truck enterprise!

If you want to skip the hassle of starting an LLC for an ice cream truck business yourself, consider using professional help for the best price in the market:

As for any business, you will also need an LLC for your ice cream truck business. You can create one yourself easily by following our step-by-step guide on how to start an LLC.

Revenue Facts About the Ice Cream Truck Business

When mulling over how to run your ice cream truck business, it’s important to consider the type of services you want to provide. For instance, if you opt for pre-packaged novelties like ice cream bars and popsicles, then this route could be less strenuous and more affordable than selling soft serve or hard scoop cones and sundaes.

Not only will owning most ice cream trucks put a smile on the faces of your customers, but it is also capable of becoming a source of profit that can be both enjoyable and rewarding. After all, who wouldn’t want to make money while having fun?

The potential to earn a generous income while working part-time hours in an ice cream truck is quite real! According to some reports, you may anticipate approximately $200-$300 of daily revenue when the weather’s warm. Depending on your geographical location and how many months out of the year are sunny, you could make roughly $5,000 every month with just twenty or fewer weekly hours put in. After deducting expenses from these earnings, net profits average around $30,000 annually–a rather remarkable yield for minimal time invested!

What Skills Are Required to Work in The Ice Cream Truck Business?

Owning and operating an ice cream truck doesn’t require a college degree or specialized instruction, but you’ll need to cultivate certain abilities in order to see success. Specifically, you should become adept at:

Food Services Management

Operating a food business necessitates expertise in food services management – from learning how to store and handle fragile items to ordering the right quantity of products at the perfect time. This helps ensure profits and reduce wastefulness. With these skills under your belt, you’ll be equipped with everything needed for success!

Customer Service

As an operator of a food truck, your communication and interpersonal skills are paramount. You’ll be interacting with people from all walks of life: children, adults, and everyone in between! A friendly demeanor will go a long way toward building trust with customers who then become loyal patrons for years to come. Even if you find yourself confronted by disgruntled clients or unsatisfied feedback about your product/service – demonstrate stability and composure when addressing the issue at hand; it is vital that you don’t lose sight of the prize – success through customer satisfaction.

Marketing Knowledge

In the old days, you could reach your sales goals just by cruising around kid-friendly neighborhoods. It was enough to have an attractive logo, a funky truck design, and a memorable jingle that would get their attention—and suddenly kids were rushing over to buy your ice pops, frosty cups of ice cream or yummy chocolate cones! With the number of cars on the road and in an effort to preserve public safety, ice cream truck vendors now typically remain stationed within designated spaces such as music festivals, art shows, schools grounds and parks. Consequently, it is more important than ever for these entrepreneurs to establish effective marketing strategies that will draw customers to their businesses.

Management Experience

As a small business owner, you must possess the managerial skills necessary to grow and sustain your venture. Whether you’re employing staff or running the business solo, it is essential that you understand how to train, schedule workers (if applicable), pay wages accordingly, keep accurate records of bookkeeping and inventory control documents for tax reporting purposes as well as maintain an efficient workspace.

Mechanical Skills

Whether you’re running a business from your truck or relying on freezers and machinery to make your product, it’s essential that you have the knowledge and skills needed for proper maintenance. Doing so yourself can save time and money in the long run! Not to mention, understanding how each component works will help ensure everything is up-and-running when customers come calling. Having the know-how makes all of this possible – plus more peace of mind knowing that you’ve got what it takes right at your fingertips.

Pros and Cons of Starting an Ice Cream Truck Business

Selling Ice Cream is one of the most fun and exciting businesses to start this year but before you go any further do take a look at these pros and cons that we have gathered for you.


Starting an ice cream truck business offers numerous benefits that can create a fun and lucrative venture.

  • One advantage is the relatively low startup costs compared to brick-and-mortar businesses, making it more accessible for entrepreneurs on a budget.
  • Additionally, this type of venture allows for flexibility in scheduling, as owners can choose their working hours and days based on customer demand and personal preferences.
  • Furthermore, the novelty and nostalgia of ice cream trucks attract a wide range of customers, which can lead to increased sales and word-of-mouth marketing.
  • The opportunity to be creative with flavors and offerings lets owners stand out from competitors and showcase their unique passion for ice cream.
  • Lastly, since it is a mobile business, owners have the ability to strategically change locations to reach larger audiences and explore various markets, contributing to ongoing growth and success.


Embarking on the journey of starting an ice cream truck business may seem enticing at first; however, it comes with its share of pitfalls.

  • One significant downside is the seasonality of the business, primarily affecting the income stream due to its dependency on warm weather conditions. Ice cream trucks thrive during summer months, but during the rest of the year, the potential for sales dwindles, resulting in unpredictable income.
  • Another considerable challenge is the unexpected costs linked to operating and maintaining the vehicle, including gas, repairs, and insurance expenses that could take a substantial chunk out of profits.
  • Finally, the competitive market may prove detrimental to new entrants. With the increasing popularity of ice cream and frozen treat shops, establishing a loyal customer base and winning against established establishments might turn out to be an arduous task in a crowded and competitive arena.

How to Start an Ice Cream Truck Business with 17 Simple Steps (Basic Guide)

As a perfect duo, entrepreneurs and food trucks work remarkably well together. Before you hit the road with your ice cream truck venture, make sure to consider these steps first:

1. Research Nearby Competitors

If you want to stay competitive, it pays to do your homework. Look into what other businesses in the same industry are offering and see which products have been most successful for them. You can get a good understanding of this information by reading their websites and going through their social media posts.

2. Find the Best Suppliers

When running an ice cream truck business, it’s essential to consider the distance between suppliers. As these large and heavy diesel-powered trucks require frequent recharging overnight and have a maximum frozen duration of 10 – 12 hours in 90 degrees weather, you should prefer proximity to suppliers or find a delivery service. Additionally, storing freezers at your home or headquarters is recommended for easy resupply access when needed. In short: keep your supplier close by!

You also need to find decent and charming ice cream truck drivers.

3. Form a Proper Ice Cream Truck Business Plan


Who is your intended customer base? Will you adhere to a single route or attend events throughout the area? Additionally, it’s essential that you have a name for your venture. Apart from that, budget calculation should include restocking costs, labor fees and vehicle expenses. Without an effective business plan in hand, securing loans will be difficult if not impossible.

4. Set a Menu, Choose Flavors Offered, and Set Prices Accordingly

When deciding what ice cream products to purchase for your truck business, it’s important to explore the range of possibilities. You can choose from a variety of options such as hard or soft-serve ice cream, pre-packaged Ice Cream, sundaes, Ice Cream cones, Ice Cream Sandwiches, low-calorie options, and many unique flavors including yummy pet-friendly varieties! Take time to research what other vendors in the area have available before investing in any new items – this will give you an idea of which ice cream flavors are most popular with customers so you can make sure yours stands out!

5. Form a Business Entity and Register Your Business

Choosing a business name is of the utmost importance. Therefore, before you register your new venture with your local Department of State, make sure that someone else hasn’t already taken it by checking for both its existence and web domain availability. Brainstorming with friends and family can help you come up with an original idea during this process too!

The LLC (Limited Liability Company) entity is favored among most ice cream truck owners seeking to start their own enterprise. Take care in making this decision – it could be vital to the success or failure of your company’s future!

If you don’t know where to start – read our best LLC services list.

6. Open a Business Bank Account


Establish a business bank account and acquire a business credit card to remain financially secure while running your new venture.

7. POS System

In the current climate, most food truck vendors have transitioned to a contactless point-of-sale system; however, you might still need an emergency cash box.

8. Find an Ice Cream Truck

Don’t skimp on the truck – if ice cream melts or reaches room temperature, it must be thrown out. opt for a deep cell battery and cold plate freezers to help keep your product cold. For used ice cream trucks, have them inspected thoroughly by certified professionals; even when purchasing new ones, preventive maintenance should become part of each day’s routine. Ice cream dipping cabinets and soft serve machines are essential too – they can make all the difference in keeping your business running smoothly! You can also check out the new ice cream truck prices if you have the budget for it.

9. Purchase Your Ice Cream Truck Equipment

To get your ice cream truck business off the ground, you need cold plate freezers, an ice cream dipping cabinet, and a soft-serve machine. Of course, don’t forget those essential accessories like cones for customers to put their sundaes in, napkins to clean up any mess that might have been made, and serving containers for delivering it all!

10. Advertise Your Truck

After you’ve gathered the truck, compiled your menu, and acquired all necessary permits for operations, it’s now time to spread the word about your ice cream truck. Unlike traditional restaurants that have fixed locations, advertising is even more critical for an ice cream truck that moves around frequently. To help get customers aware of your business venture and build up a strong brand presence in no time at all, take advantage of these proven marketing techniques:

  • Establish a memorable brand: An eye-catching logo and complementary color scheme can help you draw in potential customers.
  • Design an online presence: Utilize website-building tools such as Squarespace or Wix to create your own platform where customers can find out about the ice cream treats offered on your menu, along with your truck’s schedule and routes.
  • Announcement of route: Customers will be able to plan ahead by understanding the regular course that takes place with each location change of yours – this way they know exactly when to expect you!
  • Get involved with your local community: Check out food festivals, fairs and music events in the area to introduce more folks to your truck business. Leverage social media platforms: Joining Instagram, TikTok or any other type of online medium is a simple way to boost customer engagement and attract more visibility for what you do.

10. Apply for Permits and Licenses Needed for Ice Cream Trucks


Get the ball rolling at your local state office and progressively advance to county clerks or any other officials involved. Whether you manage an ice cream truck or a heavier vehicle, some special licenses may be necessary for its registration – so pay close attention! Despite being mobile-oriented, don’t forget that acquiring a business license is still required.

11. Get Insurance for Your Truck

As an owner of a truck business, you’ll need to ensure your company is fully secured with general business insurance. This must include both general liability and commercial auto coverage options. Furthermore, product liability should be acquired from the ice cream manufacturers as this will become void if any alterations are made – such as mixing in extra toppings or dips which would create a new item altogether.

12. Prepare for a Health Inspection

Everyone who works with food needs to possess Food Handling Certification and have the necessary documentation on-hand during inspections from local health departments. Furthermore, inspectors will want assurance that there is a regular cleaning schedule in place and all proper steps are taken to avoid any risk of food contamination.

13. Get Your Taxes in Order

To successfully sell your product, you must accurately report sales tax. Obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN) is the easiest way to do this effectively and efficiently.

14. Plan an Ice Cream Truck Route

Through the strategic creation of routes, you can establish a loyal customer base. One creative way to do this is with an App; your customers will be able to see where you are and when they can expect you in their area! This will ensure that your business continues to grow as more people discover your reliable services.

15. Consider Employing Staff Members

When making the decision whether or not to bring on employee(s), it is essential to understand your business needs and select personnel with exceptional customer service capabilities. Depending on the region where you are located, you may need temporary seasonal staff members or full-time employees throughout the year. In either case, Workers Compensation Insurance will be necessary for any hired help.

16. Market Your Business

Take the plunge and introduce exciting new flavors of ice cream! Make sure to spread the word on social media accounts so your customers can be updated. Show appreciation for repeat purchasers by giving them a free scoop after they reach a certain number of purchases. Transform your loyal buyers into marketing experts: let them help you with ideas that don’t require professional knowledge in order to thrive!

17. Expand Your Ice Cream Truck Business

Struggling with your route? Don’t shy away from revamping it! Attending festivals and seeking feedback from customers can be great ways to uncover new opportunities. Some ice cream truck vendors have even gone so far as to study school bus routes, which tend to indicate where children reside – a great way of finding potential buyers!

Get Professional Help in Forming an LLC for Your Ice Cream Truck Business

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