"Newbie" here - Introduction

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Kokomo_Sno
Junior Burger
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2012/09/03 07:02:26 (permalink)

"Newbie" here - Introduction

Hello forum,
 
I am Mark, 34, from Idaho. I have been in the shaved ice business for 10 years now. Started out with a "sno shack", then bought a mobile sno shack, and expanded from there. Just wrapped up our last event of the year, slung over 1,100 cups of shaved ice in 6 hours.
 
Somewhere along the way I thought I wanted to be in the food (hamburger, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, fries, etc) business. So I bought a 16 foot concession trailer with the works. Ran that for about 2 years but it became clear it's not what I want to do, or at least not at the level I was doing it.
 
Sold the trailer and focused solely on shaved ice for the next few years. In the mean time I found a small niche buying/selling step vans. If memory serves me since I don't have my paperwork at the moment, I believe I have sold 12 over the past 4 years. Ever so often I would keep one, thinking I would turn it into a shaved ice truck, but then someone would come along, want to buy it and so I would sell it.
 
I bought another step van at the end of July. It's the first truck I have had that has a translucent roof. I think I am gonna keep this one. I like the light it lets in without having to add lights, though I probably will for night use, even though I haven't had night events as of yet.
 
The truck is a 1992 Chevrolet P-30. Former Frito Lay truck. 27' long with 18' cargo space. Was told it's a 6.5, but I have not confirmed this yet. Drove 2 hours to get it and another 2 to bring it home. Paid $580 and it runs as well as I think a diesel is suppose to. When I get my post count up I can let you folks know of a source to get cheap step vans.
 
I am kicking around ideas on how I want to build this. Perhaps it is "overkill" for doing just shaved ice, but at the same time I think it commands attention due to its size. Especially if I can figure out what kind of design/wrap I want.
 
In my mind they don't go hand in hand but I think I want to do hot dogs somewhere down the line as well.
 
If anyone is familiar with how Kona Ice has their truck set up, I am wanting to do something similar, especially with the way their syrup delivery is set up.
 
Anyways...I have pictures, but it appears I need to hit the 30 post count or email them to someone.
 
For now I'll continue to browse and read to get more ideas on my future build.
 
Great forum.
 
Mark
 
 
#1

13 Replies Related Threads

    Dr of BBQ
    Filet Mignon
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    Re:"Newbie" here - Introduction 2012/09/03 07:50:52 (permalink)
    First welcome,
    I'm a little bit familiar with the way Kona Ice has their truck set up, but just from on line videos but fascinated with the way their syrup delivery is set up. But how do you control the amount of syrup the customers use?
     
     
    http://www.youtube.com/wa...V4&feature=related
    http://www.youtube.com/wa...bE&feature=related
    #2
    Kokomo_Sno
    Junior Burger
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    Re:"Newbie" here - Introduction 2012/09/03 09:01:02 (permalink)
    Hi,
     
    When it's set up that way there really is no way to control the syrup. Look up "Snowie Flavor Station"  under Google images for a free standing self serve station. Can also be found on Youtube if you want to see how it's set up and operated.
     
    I like that set up as well, but I think it would be a lot easier to have it on the truck and not lugging  gallons of syrups and hooking them up.
     
    Back to the syrup issue, I don't control how much they use. I have found the line moves a lot faster if all I do is shave the ice (Employee takes the money and hands the ice out).
     
    When selling them for $2 to $4 each, they can use all the syrup they want and I still make more on the sheer volume of ice moved. And more often than not they won't put enough on anyways. I have watched people pour just enough to cover the cone top and walk away. At least at that point they can't be disappointed in anyone but themselves for not getting enough syrup. And some do come back and add more.
     
    Set up I currently run is having a table set out with the pour bottles and they help themselves. Wishing I had done that years ago. It really speeds up the crowds and adds to the bottom line.
     
    By having it on the truck I can minimize the time spent by not having to send the help out to trade out bottles and what not. And teardown/move out would be faster as well. 
     
    Another reason this works well (for me anyways) is when you get that customer that spends 25 minutes deciding on a flavor, (even though we limit flavors at events to speed the line) they're not at your window tying up valuable time. They have their ice and they're at the table for however long it takes them to decide. By then you have served the 10 people behind them.
    #3
    Dr of BBQ
    Filet Mignon
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    Re:"Newbie" here - Introduction 2012/09/03 09:46:51 (permalink)
    "When selling them for $2 to $4 each, they can use all the syrup they want and I still make more on the sheer volume of ice moved."
     
    Wow, your the very first I have heard that has that kind of attitude about syrup. I belong to a Shaved Ice Discussion Group and they are always complaining  about people asking for extra syrup. Of course with that group if your not using a Hatsu Block Shaver, your an outcast. There are some snobs in the group about the hows and whys of the shaved ice business. But it's still interesting and very informative.
    #4
    Foodbme
    Porterhouse
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    Re:"Newbie" here - Introduction 2012/09/03 20:13:03 (permalink)
    I'm sure the fast food and fast casual chains have studied the self-serve verses counter serve issue until they're blue in the face and many of them still use it for drinks & condiments so it must not impact the bottom line too badly.
    #5
    Kokomo_Sno
    Junior Burger
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    Re:"Newbie" here - Introduction 2012/09/03 21:08:21 (permalink)
    Yahoo Shaved Ice Discussion group by chance? I am a member over there. Also a member of Snowizards group, but it doesn't have as much activity.
     
    There certainly are some snobs on that forum. I am of the belief the moment you think you know it all, then you're done. Been doing this ten years and I am always learning how to do something faster, easier, cheaper without sacrificing quality.
     
    I haven't used a "Hat", but would like to someday just to compare. I have used the Swan 90, 100 and 200. I recently purchased a used "Sno Shack" brand block shaver, and that's what we used at this last event. Personal experience shows that machine will output at least 5 to 1 over a Swan. YMMV.
     
    Operators who want to control the syrup are chasing dimes instead of dollars. It does seem counterintuitive to let the customer control the portion. I know I was hesitant to try it. "What if they use a lot of syrup"? "What will my profits be"? But at the end of the day, if you move 200 more cups of ice that you wouldn't have otherwise, that can be an extra $400 to $800. You can buy a lot of syrup for that kind of $.
     
     
    By the way, "BoFlex" is who turned me on to the self serve idea. Don't know if he is a member here or not. He is on the shave ice forum. I think I saw "Old Soldier" here as well?
     
     
    The last event I did I was averaging 183 cups of ice per hour out the window. There is no way we could do that volume if we were pouring it for them. I don't get swamped at my stationary stand all that much, but at events we sure do and the name of the game is to get them in/out as fast as we can while being courteous and friendly with the customer.
     
    If other shave ice operators want to give this method a try, I say go for it. If you find your profits are too high or whatever, you can always go back to pouring it for them.
     
    #6
    Kokomo_Sno
    Junior Burger
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    Re:"Newbie" here - Introduction 2012/09/03 21:16:15 (permalink)
    Foodbme

    I'm sure the fast food and fast casual chains have studied the self-serve verses counter serve issue until they're blue in the face and many of them still use it for drinks & condiments so it must not impact the bottom line too badly.

    Not just with drinks and condiments. Think of buffet restaurants like Golden Corral. Do some eat more than what it cost them? I'm sure some do. Most won't. Though it's not entirely fair to compare a buffet chain to shave ice, as my costs are lower, but it's the same concept (self serve) moving the crowds through quicker.
    #7
    Curb Hopper
    Hamburger
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    Re:"Newbie" here - Introduction 2012/09/03 22:23:39 (permalink)
    Welcome Mark and congrats on 10yrs of business! So much experience on this site you can't help but to love it!
    #8
    Dr of BBQ
    Filet Mignon
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    Re:"Newbie" here - Introduction 2012/09/04 08:58:39 (permalink)
    Yahoo Shaved Ice Discussion group by chance?
     
    Yes that's the group. lol. Your concept is very cool and it makes a great deal of sense. I would have never thought of it, after reading all those post at Yahoo. Have you ever posted it there? You should some time that would create a firestorm of post. And the people that are new to the business would have an entirely new concept to consider. It would be interesting.
    good luck
    jack
    #9
    FriedTater
    Cheeseburger
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    Re:"Newbie" here - Introduction 2012/09/04 09:29:54 (permalink)
    Kokomo-Sno, I`m also a member of the shaved ice group. Probably been a member almost since its beginning. Yes, I remember Boflex at one time mention in a post that he built a self serve syrup system, he said he noticed that customers used less syrup than he did with this method. Boflex is one of them type of people if he said it and it works, you better take note. I`m not saying hes the most successful sno-baller, but hes at the top. We used to chat years ago on Sunday nights till way hours into the morning, had a blast. Hes a good man.
    BTW, I`m "Old Soldier."
    #10
    pnwchef
    Filet Mignon
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    Re:"Newbie" here - Introduction 2012/09/04 09:46:15 (permalink)
    These are pictures of Marks ( Kokomo-Sno) Truck
     



    #11
    Kokomo_Sno
    Junior Burger
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    Re:"Newbie" here - Introduction 2012/09/06 03:32:30 (permalink)
    Curb Hopper

    Welcome Mark and congrats on 10yrs of business! So much experience on this site you can't help but to love it!

    Thanks for the welcome. I am definitely learning a lot here.
    #12
    Kokomo_Sno
    Junior Burger
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    Re:"Newbie" here - Introduction 2012/09/06 03:44:54 (permalink)
    Jack, the idea gets brought up every so often. Some are really against it, others give it a try. More often than not they find it's a lot easier to do, and more profitable. 
     
    A few years ago a guy came on the shave ice forum and showed us his trailer build. He went all out and pretty much no expense was spared. One thing that stuck out at me as being cool, but perhaps over kill was a flavor gun, so then he had the gun, lines, pumps, etc to contend with. Sno Shack had something like that in a promo video. Don't know if they ever offered it as an option to buy.
     
    Anyways, I haven't seen him in a while and his domain expired. Guessing he went over board and sunk.
     
    --------------
     
    Hey Fried Tater, I thought that might be you, based on name/location. I am "RiverCityVending" on the ice board.
     
    --------------
     
    Thanks for posting the pics, pnwchef.
     
    #13
    Tsboss
    Junior Burger
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    Re:"Newbie" here - Introduction 2012/11/08 11:21:55 (permalink)
     I agree..I let my customer add their own syrups. They hardly ever use so much it hurts my profits, because they know its sickly sweet so they usually just add a bit then move on.. now IF a kid adds so much he cant eat it. mom or dad always buy them another  one and then add the flav their selves..I get more customers because they tell me it reminds them of their childhood and keep coming back for more.  so let them add their own.  The adults have more fun at times then the kids. its only pennies compared to moving the lines as fast as possible out of the way and raking in the money .  People wont wait in hot long lines for long, they will go else where.. I learned the hard way with people taking 10 minutes to figure out a flav when they have 5 kids and each one is yelling for 2 or more flavs at a time.. I now hand them the cups and they move out of the way  and everyone is happy...  I still make more because im getting the lines down faster then the stand that hand pours... The only thing I add is the ice cream or toppings other wise its all them..why not?
    post edited by Tsboss - 2012/11/08 11:25:01
    #14
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