Selling ice cream and other frozen treats can be a sweet and successful business opportunity. Plan the layout of your ice cream store to maximize workers' efficiency and to influence customers' buying behaviors.
Define Your Target Market
Will you sell ice cream cones and cups to walking traffic near a beach or tourist area? Do you want to serve sundaes in a setting that recreates the feel of an old-fashioned ice cream parlor? Perhaps you plan to serve unusual flavors, cater to customers who seek non-dairy alternatives or sell ice cream desserts in a space that mimics a European cafe.
Defining your market will guide you in making many decisions for your business, including menu, pricing, ice cream shop floor plan and ice cream shop front design. You'll be able to create marketing and advertising strategies that attract the customers you want to reach.
Plan Your Menu
Planning your menu will help determine the layout of your store. For example, if you plan to offer 20 flavors of ice cream, you'll need sufficient space for the dipping cabinets necessary to hold them all. Consider whether you want to offer some of these menu items in your shop:
- Selection of toppings, including whipped cream, nuts, sauces and candies
- Sundaes with fresh fruit, such as banana splits
- Fresh-baked cookies, either on their own or for ice cream sandwiches
- Frozen yogurt
- Cotton candy
- Salty snacks, such as popcorn or pretzels
- Shakes and floats
- Shaved ice
Choose Your Location
Choose a location for your ice cream shop that keeps your target audience in mind. If you'll rely primarily on walking trade, your store must be in an area where there's a lot of foot traffic. If customers will bike or drive to your location, you have to consider where they'll park their vehicles and eat their ice cream. You'll need space for picnic tables or cafe tables if customers will enjoy their treats outdoors.
You need adequate square footage inside to create an ice cream shop floor plan that will meet the needs of staff and customers. Other decisions affecting your choice of location include whether you'll make ice cream on the premises and sell anything besides ice cream. Depending on your target customers, you might sell coffee, soft drinks, candy and postcards or souvenirs in addition to ice cream.
Ice Cream Shop Floor Plan
Begin designing your ice cream shop floor plan by determining what equipment and fixtures will be necessary. Visit one or more restaurant supply stores, either brick and mortar or online, to create a list of what you need. Make note of the dimensions of each item. Equipment and fixtures may include:
- Ice cream dipping cabinet
- Ice cream maker
- Soft-serve ice cream dispenser
- Payment counter, including space for items such as straws, napkins and plastic spoons
- Oven (if offering baked goods)
- Display case
- Storage racks
- Waffle cone maker
- Shake mixer
- Dishwasher (if not using disposable serve ware)
- Tables and chairs
- Trash receptacles
Design a Virtual Floor Plan
To get an idea of your ice cream shop layout, use one of the free floor plan creators you can find online. You can easily create doors and windows, then add furniture and fixtures to see how they'll fit in the space. Free online floor plan creators include those offered by Floorplanner and SmartDraw. You can also download free or low-cost floor planning apps for your mobile device.
Work With Licensed Contractors
Unless you're taking over an existing ice cream store, you may have to make changes in the wiring and plumbing to convert a location to suit your needs. Choose licensed contractors who are familiar with food service setups. They can guide you in decision-making about building codes and health department regulations.
- Think about hanging artwork, posters or pictures on the walls as you create your design. Begin considering color schemes to keep you motivated through the planning process.
- Don't clutter up the ice cream store. Customers will be put off if it seems messy, unclean or inaccessible. Make access as easy as possible.
Denise Dayton, M.S., M.Ed. is a freelance writer specializing in careers, education and technology. In addition to writing for corporate clients, she has published articles in Library Journal and The Searcher.