Are Ice Cream Trucks Profitable 2024?

Ice cream trucks bring back a gush of the most joyful childhood memories, and if you have ever wanted to be that bearer of happiness, then one question that must have crossed your mind must be: Are ice cream trucks profitable?

As tempting as it may sound to start a simple business as an ice cream truck, one must know the nitty-gritty of this business before diving right in.

Lucky for you, we have broken down the cost, expenses, profits, etc., involved in running an ice cream truck business. So make sure you read till the end.

Are Ice Cream trucks Profitable

Ice Cream Truck Business Statistics

  • Renting or leasing out an ice cream truck costs $1500 to $2000 a month on average. But the prices could vary based on the location.
  • The average expense of running an ice cream truck comes to about $2,500 a month.
  • You can buy a used ice cream truck for $10,000 and $20,000.
  • The ice cream truck market in the U.S. is currently valued at US$ 1,346 million and is expected to reach US$ 2,655 million by 2030, showing a CAGR of 8.9%.

Start Up Cost Of Ice Cream Truck Business

Start Up Cost Of Ice Cream Truck Business

The initial cost or the start up cost for running an ice cream truck business lies between $50,000 to $150,000 or it can be more depending on the scale of your preferences.

Here are some of the typical expenses that you will have to bear when opening an ice cream truck business:

Type of expenseCost
Truck$50,000-$100,000
Initial inventory (cones, towels, toppings, and additional materials$3,000-$10,000
Equipment (ice cream makers, freezers)$3000–$10,000
Insurance costs$500 and $1,000
Branding and advertising (website, logo design, social media)$500-$2,000
Licenses and permits$500–2,000
Registration fees for business$750

Operational Expenses in Running an Ice Cream Truck

You must consider all the necessary operational expenses in order determine the success of your ice cream truck business. Here is an estimate of the major operational expenses that you might have to bear while running this business:

ExpensesEstimated Cost
Vehicle Purchase/Lease$10,000 – $50,000
Vehicle Wrap/Decals$1,000 – $5,000
Generator/Power Source$500 – $2,000
Refrigeration Equipment$2,000 – $5,000
GPS System$200 – $500
Accounting Software$20 – $50 per month
Cleaning Supplies$50 – $100 per month
Uniforms$100 – $300
Business Insurance$500 – $1,500 per year
Legal and Professional FeesVaries based on needs
Vehicle Registration$100 – $200 per year
Wi-Fi/Internet Access$30 – $50 per month
Mobile Payment Processing$20 – $50 per month
Bookkeeping Services$50 – $150 per month
Sundry/Contingency5% of total expenses
Loan Repayment (if applicable)Varies based on terms

Calculating the Gross Profit Margin in Ice Cream Truck Business

Gross Profit Margin in Ice Cream Truck Business

To calculate the gross profit margin of an ice cream truck business, we must deduct the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) from revenue and divide the result by revenue.

Here’s an example that will show you exactly how you can calculate the gross profit of an ice cream truck business:

  • Let us assume an ice cream truck generated $1,500 in a month. Now, you will have to find the COGS first. COGS includes the cost of ice cream, cones, toppings, etc.
  • Let us assume that the COGS Was $500.

Now, to find the gross profit, simply subtract the COGS from the total revenue:

Gross Profit = $1500 – $500 = $1000 

and

Gross Profit Percentage = $1000/$1500×100 = 66.66%

So, the gross profit margin in this case is 66.66%.


How Much Does an Ice Cream Truck Owner Make?

An average ice cream truck owner makes $200-$300 daily. So, if the ice cream truck owner works for just 20 days in a month, then his monthly net profit would be $5,000.

  • Average Daily Earnings: $200-300
  • Average monthly income: $5,000
  • Average yearly salary: $60,000
  • Monthly Average Expenses: $2,500
  • The average annual expense: $30,000

After considering the expenses, your daily average annual income is now $30,000. 

However, you can increase your earnings if you sell during the holiday or festival season, such as during Christmas, New Year, Memorial Day weekend, etc.

You can also increase your earnings by increasing the number of working days and by cutting on additional expenses. 


What is the Profit Margin in an Ice Cream Truck Business?

Profit Margin in an Ice Cream Truck Business

The gross profit margin for an ice cream truck business is around 50% and can be as high as 75%. This means for every dollar spent, the ice cream truck will make 50 to 75 cents as profit before taking into account expenses.

The net profit margin for an ice cream truck business, however, lies around 10%-25% after deducting all the expenses.

However, remember that this margin could vary depending on what you are offering, your expenses, local competition, location, etc.


Are Ice Cream trucks Profitable in 2024?

Yes, Ice cream truck business owners enjoy a net profit margin of 10%-25% and make around $5000 a month in gross profits on average. So, ice cream trucks are definitely profitable. 

One can obviously make more or less than this amount depending on the popularity of the business in the area, expenses, location, etc.


How To Start an Ice Cream Truck Business?


Pros & Cons Of Starting an Ice Cream Truck Business

Pros of starting an ice cream truck business

  • Low barrier for entry
  • Low investment
  • Finding customers is easy
  • Profitable business
  • Easy to expand
  • Freedom of work

Cons of starting an ice cream truck business

  • Seasonal changes may affect the demand
  • Zoning regulations
  • Ongoing maintenance cost
  • Small workspace

Menu & Pricing Selection For Ice Cream Truck Business

Menu & Pricing Selection For Ice Cream Truck Business

Starting a profitable ice cream truck business involves having a customer-centric menu and competitive pricing. Finding a sweet spot between the two can help you in achieving success.

Here’s how you can choose the right menu:

  • Include a broad variety of flavors: A diverse menu can appeal to a wider audience. So consider having classic flavors as well as including unique, dairy-free, and other options.
  • Sell seasonal specials: Introduce and sell seasonal specials to create a buzz and attract people. Try aligning these specials with the local preferences for the maximum benefit.
  • Include different pricing: Include items at different price points to cater to all kinds of customers. Having different price points encourages customers to try different flavors.

Here’s how you can set the right price:

  • Competitive pricing: While starting, you should try not to sell your ice creams at a higher price than your competitors. Neither should you underprice your items and struggle to make a decent income. Find a sweet spot and come up with competitive pricing for your ice creams.
  • Factor all the costs: When coming up with a price, make sure you take into account every big and little expense, including the cost of insurance, fuel, permits, etc., for long-term success.
  • Seasonal adjustments: Consider lowering your prices during the season or while catering to an event. This will help you benefit from the volume of sales.

Necessary Licenses And Permits For Running an Ice Cream Truck Business

Here are some of the licenses and permits that you will need to run an ice cream truck business:

  • Valid driver’s license: For driving an ice cream truck, you will obviously need a valid driver’s license. However, the ice cream trucks will probably be under the weight limit of 26,000, so you might get away with getting a commercial driver’s license.
  • Peddler’s permit: In some states, a peddler’s permit is required to sell products on the streets.
  • Business license: Get in touch with your municipal authority to find out what necessary business license you will need.
  • Health permit: Be ready for your local county health department to perform the necessary health inspection to give you a health permit.

How To Make The Most Out Of Your Ice Cream Truck business?

Seasonal considerations and other opportunities are crucial for running a profitable ice cream truck business.

Here are some of the ways in which you can make the most out of your ice cream truck business:

  • Festivals and local events: Summer is the peak season for local events and festivals. So identify these opportunities and make the most of this time to increase your profits.
  • Holiday season: Similarly, during festivals or the holiday season, you can benefit from increased demand and make more profits.
  • Regional climate: Adapt your business menu according to the regional climate in your area. For example, if you live in an area that sees extended periods of hot season, then you may be able to operate year-round.
  • Cold months: You may see a decline in your business during cold months. To cope with this, you can include warm treats in your menu, such as hot chocolate, waffles, etc.

Wrap Up

Starting an ice cream truck business could be excellent for you, given the rising industry demand, low barrier entry, low investment, and profitability.

Knowing what your local customers like and dislike and making good use of the events and peak season is the key to running this business successfully and making the most profit.

We hope this article on “Are Ice Cream Trucks Profitable,” was helpful to you.


FAQ’s

Is ice cream truck business worth it?

Starting an ice cream truck is one of the easiest and most affordable businesses to start. If you operate for long hours during the summer months, you can pull $20,000 in just three months. So yes, the ice cream truck business is worth it.

Can you make a living by running an ice cream truck?

The average hourly income of your local ice cream truck owner is $15 per hour, and the national hourly average salary is $14.64. So clearly, you can make a living by running an ice cream truck.

How much can a ice cream truck owner make in a day?

The earnings of an ice cream truck owner largely depend on the season. On a typical summer day, an ice cream truck owner can make between $200 and $500.

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