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Ice Cream Franchise


What's the scoop on owning an ice cream franchise?

Ah, ice cream; decadent, delicious and highly profitable. It wasn't long before the franchise whirlwind sucked up every drop of this popular product from the sprinkles down to the cone. And with great success; Dairy Queen, which began franchising in 1944, and Carvel, which dates from 1947, still hold strong today against an influx of market newcomers.


Franchisees like to choose the ice cream franchise because ice cream is a luxury item. People leave their stores happy. In fact, Ben & Jerry's strives to give its customers "a ten minute vacation, a bit of self-indulgence, a joy for the belly and soul."

One determining factor in the decision to own an ice cream franchise is money. The cost of setting up a franchise depends on the brand name you choose to partner up with and the size of the operation. For example, a Haagen-Dazs will cost you $30,000 to $241,000 in development fees while the smallest Dairy Queen operation, a Dairy Queen Treat Center costs around $180,000 to $345,000.

The total investment, royalty fee, franchise fee, terms, availability of financing and franchisee qualifications all depend on each franchise policy. The time required to have your franchise scooping up ice cream also depends on the individual brand and size of the franchise. Franchisees can expect anywhere from four to 18 months.

Of course, there's an upside and a downside to owning and operating an ice cream franchise .

There is always the delicious side to opening an ice cream franchise:

  • Relatively low royalty fees, expect to pay three to six percent back to the parent company
  • Small, low investment options such as express stands and kiosks are available
  • Ice cream franchises are becoming more innovative than they were in the past; shops offer premium cone, others customize their treats for the customer with special 'mix in' ingredients, and still others present employees who sing for their tips

But as yummy as an ice cream franchise may sound, don't forget the drips:

  • It's a seasonal product; expect lows and highs
  • Ice cream is not known for being healthy and can suffer when customers are influenced by the latest health trends
  • Competition is fierce, many ice cream franchises are turning towards gimmicks
  • Gourmet ice cream franchises have higher labor costs due to the extra work
  • The product is considered an 'impulse buy'