The ice cream industry is a largely seasonal business that is slowly losing market share to healthier snacks and treats. Nonetheless, successful ice cream chains still exist that are good franchise opportunities. We spoke to FranchiseGrade.com and received data on the 7 best-performing ice cream franchises.
To find the best ice cream franchise that meets your investment needs, reach out to the team at The Franchise Advisor. The Franchise Advisor utilizes 27 years of industry experience to help you find the right franchise, get access to funding, and they offer free coaching as you make the transition to franchise owner.
The 7 best ice cream franchises include:
Kona Ice is a mobile ice cream truck business that provides flavored shaved ice, ice cream, and other iced sweet treats. Because Kona Ice franchisees are mobile, they can be hired for different parties and events to serve up shaved ice that customers can flavor themselves. Shaved ice carts, kiosks, and trailer are also available.
Kona Ice originated in Northern Kentucky in 2007 and started franchising in 2008. A total upfront investment of $120,225 to $143,025 is needed if you want to become a Kona Ice franchisee. There are currently over 790 units available nationwide. The agreement length is 10 years and the ongoing royalty fee ranges from $3,000 to $4,000 per year.
Bowl of Heaven serves healthy açaí bowls, superfood smoothies, and freshly pressed juices. They promote bowls of healthy treats with no ice, no dairy, and no processed sugar – only fruits, granola, and honey. They serve a variety of fruits such as açaí, mango, banana, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries, lime, strawberries, peaches, pears, kiwis, apples, and coconut.
Bowl of Heaven was founded in 2010 and started franchising in 2012. There are currently 10 franchise locations available. A total upfront investment between $142,000 and $490,500 is needed if you want to become a franchisee. Their initial contract agreement is for 10 years while the renewal term is for 5 years. Their ongoing royalty fee is 6%.
Sub Zero is one of the relatively new ice cream franchises that’s growing. Sub Zero makes their ice cream on the spot with liquid nitrogen. Customers get to choose their cream base, flavors and mix-ins, and the texture of the ice cream. Sub Zero offers options for milk base like original milk, low-fat, yogurt, lactose-free, or vegan, which can be mixed with any flavor.
Sub Zero was founded in 2004 and started franchising in 2008. They currently have over 40 franchise locations nationwide. You need an upfront investment ranging from $160,000 to $381,000 to become a Sub Zero franchisee. The length of their contract agreement is 10 years and their ongoing royalty fee is 6%.
Dairy Queen is one of the largest ice cream chains, offering soft ice cream that is served fresh from the freezer. They have been in business since 1940, and Dairy Queen’s first stores sold only soft ice cream. Lately, however, they have added a variety of ice cream treats to their menus, such as banana splits, frozen yogurts, fruit drinks, smoothies, and even grilled items like hamburgers and hotdogs.
Dairy Queen has over 1,400 available franchise locations. They require a total upfront investment between $361,450 and $1,212,600. The contract agreement term is for 15 years with an ongoing royalty fee of 5%.
Dippin’ Dots serves flash-frozen ice cream products in a variety of flavors. Dippin’ Dots flash-freezing process allows the ice cream to form into little balls. Unlike freeze-dried products, however, the flash-frozen ice cream can still melt. Aside from ice cream, they also offer flash-frozen flavored ice, sherbet, yogurt, and an option for no-sugar treats.
Dippin’ Dots started their business in 1988 and began franchising in 1999. They currently have 190 franchise units nationwide. You need an initial upfront investment that ranges from $112,204 to $376,950 to start a Dippin’ Dots franchise. Their contract agreement term is 5 years and they have an ongoing royalty fee of 6%.
Baskin Robbins is one of the world’s largest chains of ice cream shops. They serve a variety of sweet treats including ice cream scoops in cones, sundaes, ice cream cakes, and frozen drinks such as milkshakes, fruit shakes, and smoothies. They pride themselves on being an innovative business that offers franchisees access to a wide range of experts, like business and operations professionals, development and construction managers, and training consultants.
Baskin Robbins was established in 1945 and they started franchising in 1950. They currently have over 1,000 franchise units nationwide. Prospective franchisees are required to have a total upfront investment of $94,350 to $402,200, a contract agreement term of 20 years, and an ongoing royalty fee of 5.9%.
Cold Stone Creamery is known for their premium ice cream. They make their ice cream and waffle cones fresh daily right inside each store. Aside from their signature ice creams, they also serve different kinds of cakes, frozen yogurt, sorbet, and drinks like shakes, smoothies, and frappes.
If you want to become a franchisee, you need a total upfront investment between $50,200 and $467,525. They currently have over 900 existing franchise locations nationwide. They have an ongoing royalty fee of 6%, their initial contract agreement length is 10 years, and the renewal term is 5 years.
Bottom Line – Ice Cream Franchise
While the ice cream industry is having a meltdown during the recent years due to “healthier” competitors and seasonality, there are still many viable ice cream franchise opportunities. The 7 ice cream franchises above are among the best ice cream chains available for franchising.
If you need financing for your ice cream franchise and have cash in a qualified retirement account, you may want to consider a Rollover for Business Startup (ROBS). A ROBS allows you to use your retirement funds to start a business without paying early withdrawal penalties or taxes. If you have at least $50K in retirement funds, talk to a ROBS expert at Guidant for more information.