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3. Find the Right Location for your Ice Cream Shop
Depending on your target audience, the location of your ice cream shop could dictate your success. First things first, decide if you’ll be looking for your shop on your own or with help from a commercial real estate agent. Next, examine foot traffic patterns, surrounding businesses and restaurants, and available leases from former restaurants (or more specifically, sweet shops or ice cream places).
4. Obtain the Necessary Restaurant License and Permits
It’s always a good idea to start local when collecting the restaurant permits and licenses you need to open your ice cream shop. Most states and even counties have their own regulations regarding new businesses, to be sure you don’t miss any deadlines you’ll want to start collecting them early.
The licenses and permits needed to open an ice cream shop include, but are not limited to:
Health and safety inspection
Food handler’s license
After you’ve determined all the paperwork you need, start filling it out right away. Some permits may be contingent on others, and without starting early you may risk a delay in the grand opening. Work with a professional to ensure you’ve done this step perfectly to avoid headaches.
5. Collect the Necessary Tax, DBA, and EIN Information Needed to Open your Ice Cream Shop
Many states have differing employer and tax requirements, in addition to potentially requiring different licenses and permits. In a similar fashion, it’s also best practice to start this process as early as you can to avoid missing deadlines.
Start by collecting the necessary restaurant tax paperwork through either a third-party or an in-house tax professional. Then, if necessary, file for your DBA — AKA your ice cream shop’s trade name. Last, if hiring employees is part of your plan at any point, you’ll need to apply for an EIN (employer identification number) that will allow you to file income and payroll tax returns. Again, this is a step where professional help is extremely important.
Setting Up your Business Structure
For setting up your restaurant’s taxes, you’ll need to establish your shop and choose a business structure. An LLC can protect you from personal liability, and other business formats are beneficial for other reasons, like if you sell merchandise or have several locations. Do your research and consult with a professional on this step if you have any concerns.
6. Design your Ice Cream Shop Branding, Marketing, Promotion, and Advertising Strategy
Developing the marketing and advertising strategy for your ice cream shop starts with you creating a clear vision of what it is exactly that you’re marketing. What makes your ice cream shop special? Why should customers go to your shop instead of the ice cream shop down the street? Questions like these will drive your unique branding. Then, once you’ve defined what your parlor has to offer, proceed with designing the right marketing strategy for your operation.
Ask yourself guiding questions while developing your branding, and always keep the ideal customer in mind:
Will you pay for advertising or use organic marketing practices?
Where does your target audience spend their time? Are you able to advertise in these spaces?
What platforms will you use for marketing? What about advertising?
Will influencer marketing play a role in your strategy? To what degree?
What is your social media marketing strategy?
Toast’s Restaurant Marketing Plan template can help serve as a starting point to get your marketing strategies in a row, set up your marketing channels like email, social media, and your website, and plan for the year.