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5 Mistakes Not to Make When Asked to Donate Italian Ice

Posted by Lilly on February 14, 2013 at 4:05 AM Comments comments (2)


Last Spring, I wasn't two steps into starting up my Italian Ice business when the unexpected happened.  I was searching for a commissary, and I thought it wise of me to ask local churches and synagogues with kitchen space whether they'd partner up with me as my commissary. Shortly after receiving a rejection email from one organization, their contact person turned right around and asked me if I would donate tubs of Italian Ice to their annual 5k event.  Interestingly (and quite clever), she mentioned that the local Rita's had already committed to one tub.  Well, naive, anxious and not to be outdone, I found myself committing enthusiastically for TWO tubs of Italian Ice.  In return, she promised, I would get free advertising exposure in their 5k marketing flyer.  At the time, I thought it was a wonderful opportunity!  A year later, a year wiser and more jaded, I view it very differently.  Let me explain.


On the day of the event, I loaded their two selected Italian Ice flavors into a marine cooler to take over to their event, at 8:00 am on a Saturday morning.  First, the entire point of becoming an Italian Ice vendor is to run by my own rules and my own hours.  Typically I won't sell until 11:00am when it gets good and hot and I've enjoyed sleeping in.  Already, bleary-eyed, I was not as enthusiastic as when I'd made the commitment.  


Next, upon arriving at the event, there were tons of people and volunteers, but my contact was nowhere in sight.  I asked random people to lead me to her, but in the end I never met her.  A kind soul took me to the kitchen freezers where I dropped off my Italian Ice.  Nevermind that their kitchen and walk-in freezer was huge and state-of-the-art!  The freezer shelves were empty.  And yet, they'd declined my request for a commissary.  Yeah, that got to me. 


About two weeks later, I got a a thank-you email from an unknown party for that organization, informing me that my Italian Ice was a hit and that it was gone after one hour of continuous scooping.  What I didn't get, however, was any proof of that advertising they'd promised.  Nor did I receive any letter formally detailing my donation, so that I could write it off on the following year's business taxes. 


So, what did I learn that I now share with you, dear readers? 

  1. Have any organization which wants you to donate tubs or time write you a formal request in advance, that you can choose to approve or disapprove as you see fit.  You could have a page on your website for these organizations with a downloadable form that they can fill out and physically mail to you.  This will create a paper that you can file away with no extra work on your part.  I don't believe we should take time or funds away from our businesses to print out any online requests.  Put the onus on the requesting organization.
  2. Once you approve the organization's request, have them pick up the donation!  My contact clearly had the space for Italian Ice tubs available, and a more suitable time for pickup by her would have been the night before, even a week before - not the vendor making any deliveries the morning of their event.
  3. Have them provide you a copy of their marketing piece showing where they placed your company in their advertising, as promised, before you let any tubs of ice leave your possession.  This marketing material will be printed far in advance of their event, so this is not a difficult request.  And as business owners, we need to obtain proof of agreements. 
  4. Do not provide dishers (scoops) for organizations!  This only makes you have to pick them up (think fuel cost and time).  Or, as in my case, I simply never got it back.  There went a $12 piece of equipment with two free tubs of ice.  I certainly can not afford to do that repeatedly. 
  5. If their event goes well and you get positive feedback, as I did, ask for their permission to use their comments as a testimonial on your website.  This, at least, I did right!

in the end, I learned, and I'm more business savvy.  And I'm certainly not opposed to donating and helping organizations out... on my terms.  So, how about you?  Do you have any lessons learned from times when you were asked to donate Italian Ice to an organization's event?  I'd love you to share them with us in the comments.


When A Storm Hits the Fan

Posted by Lilly on November 19, 2012 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (0)


Photo Credit: Mike Hollingshead


Here I was in Pennsylvania just a month ago, minding my own business, when out of nowhere I was informed a hurricane was headed my way.  Let's put aside for a moment that hurricanes typically affect Floridians and Texans, and those in between... but not Pennsylvanians!  Lucky for me, I'm a native Floridian, and I knew what to do to prepare when Hurricane Sandy approached.  It's second nature at this point in my life.  Batteries (check), propane (check), candles (check), canned food (check), on down the list. 


When I actually lost power, however, it suddenly hit me!  What about my inventory?  How long could my Italian Ice stay cold before it began melting and becoming unsalable?  How would it melt, from the top down, or on the sides?  Top down can be salvaged by throwing out the top layer.  Sides... not so much.   I had no way to know.  But more importantly, I chastised myself, shouldn't I, in my Prep-Queen mindset, have thought about all this beforehand? Hundreds of dollars of stock could literally be liquidated overnight!  The only positive I see is that in a survival situation, the melted Italian Ice is considered potable water... and deliciously flavored water at that.


With this story in mind, I ask you... are you prepared for the unexpected when it comes to your Italian Ice business?  Here are some things to consider when the power goes out.  Of course, if a hurricane or sudden storm were headed your way, no one might be vending Italian Ice the next day.  But sometimes, the power goes out for other reasons for just as long.


Inventory Freezer

Do you have a backup plan?  This could include knowing a dry ice supplier in your area that you could contact quickly should you lose electricity. They can tell you how many pounds of dry ice you need to keep whatever quantity of Italian Ice buckets frozen, based on size of freezer.


How about your commissary?  Do they have a generator or backup plan for your inventory?


Cart

Is your cart electric, requiring to be charged overnight?  Again, wherever your cart is stored needs a backup power plan.  If your cart doesn't work, you could lose thousands in revenue.  In this scenario, it would also help to locate a dry ice supplier and sell Italian Ice "old school".  This would require getting familiar, in advance, with how much dry ice you'd need in your cart to keep your stock cold.


Sales Data & Files

Is there any information on your computer that you might need to run your business?  Consider cloud storage for your business information if you currently have everything stored on your computer.  Without electricity, once your computer battery dies, there goes access to information you might need.  You can access your cloud-stored data via your smartphone, if you have one.


Income

Watery Italian Ice just won't sell, and no one can predict how long any power outage will last.  This means you could be out some serious cash, unless you prepare for loss of income.  If you haven't read my blog post on insurance, now would be a good time to learn about Business Interruption Insurance.


I don't presume to know even half of the possible ways to prepare for this event and its effect on our Italian Ice businesses.  So, this is where I need your help.  What would you add to this list that I haven't considered or don't know yet? 


On the plus side, if you're completely covered in all these areas, just imagine the kind of money you could make selling cold Italian Ice to hot, thirsty customers who have no air conditioning if a storm hit in summertime.  Is this bad to be thinking?  (definitely insert evil laugh here)



Insurance Ensures Peace of Mind

Posted by Lilly on October 4, 2012 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (2)

As fun as the varied topics of selling Italian Ice can be, there comes a time to discuss the not-so-fun aspects.  Of these, I add the topic of insurance.  But it's a crucial thing when your livelihood may depend on selling Italian Ice.  And sadly, it could all be lost in the blink of an eye, were it not for the beautiful invention called insurance.


Insurance for concessionaires (called Concessionaire's or Vendor's Insurance) takes on a few different forms than traditional insurance, but it can include those as well.  Below I provide a brief list of types of insurance coverage your business may require.  In some cases, this insurance is mandated by the state in which you operate.  In other instances, it is optional.  This is definitely one of those "do your homework" scenarios.  Ask lots of questions, talk to a number of companies, compare quotes, and make sure you're covered for the situations you require.  And by all means, deal with a reputable company that understands the needs of a concession business.


Concession General Liability - coverage for an insured when negligent acts and/or omissions result in bodily injury and/or property damage on the premises of a business, when someone is injured as the result of using the product manufactured or distributed by a business, or when someone is injured in the general operation of a business.


Commercial Auto Insurance - coverage for your car, truck, and trailer used in the operation of your concession business.


Inland Marine Insurance - coverage for anything that you transport in or on the trailers will be covered under an inland marine policy, specifically items not permanently attached, including knockdowns, carts, tents, miscellaneous tools and equipment used for set up, inventory, propane tanks, tables, chairs, ect..


Business Interruption Insurance - additional insurance during some business-interrupting event to cover the loss of profits that would have been earned.


Worker's Compensation Insurance - only if you hire employees.  Workers compensation insurance covers workers injured on the job, whether they're hurt on the workplace premises or elsewhere, or in auto accidents while on business. It also covers work-related illnesses.


Where the item's located will determine which insurance coverage you'll require.  If you keep items in a commercial storage unit, that company will be able to offer insurance.  If you keep items in your home, then your homeowner's or renter's policy should cover them, but be sure to list them on your policy, per your insurer's requirements.


As a final note, depending on how you plan to operate your business, you can elect coverage on an annual, seasonal or per-event basis.  If you plan on selling Italian Ice at events, the event coordinator or promoter will provide the guidelines for the type and amount of insurance that you'll need to obtain to be included in that event.  Your insurance company would then send you a document showing proof of the required coverage, and you in turn give that document to the event planner, along with your application to attend. 


If you're planning to vend Italian Ice year-round at locales other than events, then an annual policy would be required, and when you wish to attend an event, you'd just provide proof of your annual coverage, with no need to get another policy.  In this way, you're covered for any and all vending scenarios.  Those who opt for event-only basis will have to acquire coverage each and every time they wish to enter into an event.


Sample List of Concession Insurance Companies

Chase, Carmen, Hunter

Heritage Insurance Agency

K&K Insurance

Progressive Commercial

Risk Strategies Company

RVNA

Shoff Darby

Stratum Insurance Agency


The Holy Grail of Italian Ice Suppliers

Posted by Lilly on June 21, 2012 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (11)


Even though I've selected my Italian Ice wholesaler already, I was doing some thinking about the costs of using this supplier versus using others.  And I came to a crazy revelation that I just had to share.  If you're able to find a supplier who offers anything like what I'm about to disclose, jump on it and never let them go!


My supplier, Famous Italian Ices, is running a promotion for this entire season, which I believe it also did last year, and may be their permanent practice.  It's insane.  And I certainly welcome others to tell me that I have interpreted the program wrong.  But, until then, here goes.


  • Buy 5 Italian Ice buckets, Get the 6th FREE!
  • Each bucket costs $16.
  • Each bucket will serve $105 in product, the way I plan to sell it.
  • I buy 5 buckets and pay a total of $80 (tax is included).
  • They give me one FREE bucket
  • The 6th, FREE Italian Ice bucket will generate revenue of $105.


The beauty of this is that the free bucket Famous Italian Ice gives me, once sold, covers the cost of the first 5 buckets I bought.  I once wrote that it was like giving me a free $100 bill.  But it's also like buying all my stock free.  Then, not only does it cover the cost of the first 5 buckets, but I end up ahead of the game by an additional $25. 


The next time I walk in to buy my next set of 5 buckets, they give me another 6th tub FREE.  This leaves me again not having spent a penny on new stock, and up now by $50.  In essence, Famous is paying me for selling their product!  And this just goes on and on.  I never invest my own money into buying inventory!  And my revenue keeps growing by $25 infinitely.  Where else can you find such an amazing business practice? 


Now, let me add the little cherry on top.  Famous will also pay me $1 for every clean plastic tub I bring back to them for their recycling program.  So, for every 5 buckets, they pay me $5 when I return them.  And they even pay me that $1 on that 6th bucket of Italian Ice I already got from them for FREE!  So, really my revenue grows by $31 infinitely.  There is no limit on the number of buckets I can buy in this promotion.  Even if their ice were the worst tasting product on the planet, I'd have to use them as my wholesaler!  I would be out of my business mind not to. Yes, I realize that's an exaggeration, as horrible ice wouldn't sell.  But the actuality is that I absolutely love their ice, and it's one of the only wholesalers I found that uses all natural ingredients. 


If you've been contemplating which wholesaler to use, I suggest you run the numbers for yourself to see if this program works for you.  I am fortunate enough that I can drive to their location and buy my Italian Ice whenever I need it.  But, of course, shipping will change things a bit.  Still, if you're not having the product shipped too far and if you're not using cold storage, this promotion may set you farther ahead than any other wholesaler possibly could.


An Easy-Bake Method for Pricing Italian Ice

Posted by Lilly on June 16, 2012 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (2)

Pricing Italian Ice can become a complicated mathematical algorithm, if you take into account the many aspects people will advise you to consider.  Even I have a post explaining pricing that crunches numbers considering demographics, sales tax, geography and competition.  But there's an easier way, too. 


Independent of which ice wholesaler you choose, and which size tubs you sell from, you simply need these two things to start:

  • Size of cup you're using
  • Number of ounces per tub

Watch how easy this is. 


My supplier sells in 2.5 gallon tubs.  They've informed me that I can get 45-7oz. servings and that, if I price them at $2.00, I can make $90 per tub.  With that information, I multiply 7 x 45 to get the total number of ounces in each tub.  That equals 315 ounces.  (Be sure to ask your wholesaler for this information.  They will surely know it, and you will definitely need it.)


However, 7oz. is a kids' cup if you see it with your own eyes.  Since I'm keeping it simple, I'm using larger 9 oz. cups only.  One Size, One Price.  I'm actually going to write that on my menu!  But when I take that 315 ounces per tub and divide by 9 oz. cups, I will now only get 35 servings.  Yet, since it's a larger amount and looks and feels like more, I'd like to price these at $3.00.  What happens? 


I make more, for less!




If you're like me, you shop at grocery stores and compare prices using the "price per ounce" method to see if you're really getting a bargain on an item.  This is the same thing, only you're the seller.  A larger serving is what a customer would like, and a beautifully mounded, overflowing 9oz serving is definitely worthy of its $3 price. 


But it gets better!  For the work of throwing in one more 2 oz. scoop of Italian Ice, I increase my revenue per ounce, from $0.28 to $0.33.  That's the power of marketing and packaging.  Then, it hits me that I'm making $15 more per tub over my supplier's suggested selling size and price, while also using 10 fewer cups and 10 fewer spoons .  And since my cups and spoons are biodegradable, they cost me more than regular plastic ones.  Numbers are a beautiful thing.


This, of course, is only my interpretation of pricing, and we all think differently.  So, how about you?  What are you planning to offer?  How did you come to your pricing scheme? 


RELATED POST:

Know How to Price Your Ice


Italian Ice Sales: Will That Be Cash or Credit?

Posted by Lilly on May 17, 2012 at 4:50 PM Comments comments (0)



________________________________________________________________________________

As you can see, I have pilfered Jonathan L.'s review I found today on Yelp about his local Ralph's Famous Italian Ice and posted it here to make a point.  And that is: listen to your customers.


By this review, I have learned that Ralph's is ahead of the game when it comes to product.  Jonathan thinks his product is great and that his choices are also great.  But, although he gave the local Italian Ice joint a five-star rating, he was sure to point out his one gripe.  The fact that there is only one gripe is also a good thing, but it's one that many Italian Ice vendors are guilty of.


I've written before about being able to accept more than just a cash sale.  I know because I've been in that same position that Jonathan found himself with a taste for Italian Ice but no cash on hand.  In fact, many people simply do not carry cash. On one side of the argument, you have the Jonathans of the world, and on the other side sits the typical Italian Ice vendor.


Since this has always been a cash business, why change a working model?  Yes, it's true, though unspoken, that many vendors prefer the cash sale so as to be able to pocket more and avoid taxes.  That is the ugly truth.  But you can add to it that many vendors just don't want to lose the ten cents on a credit card sale that is paid to the credit card processing company.  And why should Casey Cash pay the full $3.00 for his Italian Ice, while Carly Credit Card gets away with only paying $2.90?  This is, in fact, common practice in any retail environment.


But there's another mentality that doesn't focus on the negative of what the vendor is losing.  And that is to look at what the vendor is gaining.  When Carly Credit Card sees that she can't have her Italian Ice because she doesn't have cash, and that's all that Ian's Italian Ice offers as payment, what are the odds that she will go to an ATM to take out cash for that cup of delicious ice?  Nil?  And what are the odds that her own bank, where she won't be charged a fee, is within sight?  Less than Nil?  So what really happens?  You have two losers.  Carly doesn't get that delicious cup of refreshing Italian Ice, and Ian doesn't get any payment at all.  They both walk away with nothing. 


But with a different mindset, Ian Italian Ice vendor could walk away with a sale of $2.90 and a happy, returning customer, and Carly can have her ice and a new place she'll tell others about.  It's a small price to pay for new customer loyalty, repeat and probably even increased sales. 


And, while you may be thinking, "Yeah, but then you have to deal with that issue at tax time."  You're right, but it may be an expense you can write-off, bringing all things back to a level playing field.  Be sure to talk to your accountant, if you have questions regarding credit card processing fees. 


What do you plan to do?  Cash-only sales or offer credit cards too?


Wanna keep up-to-date on the Italian Ice vending world, become a member of this site.  It's free, and together we can build a great community for sharing ideas and concerns.

The Best FREE Accounting Software

Posted by Lilly on May 14, 2012 at 9:00 AM Comments comments (0)



All of the spending I've done in starting up my Italian Ice pushcart business has me in desperate need of two things.  One is the need to be able to record every item I've purchased.  And the other is the need for anything FREE.  Lucky for me, an online search with reviews brought me to the doorstep of the best free accounting software I could find. 


You could spend several hundred dollars on QuickBooks, and then you'd spend another several weeks watching YouTube tutorials to learn the intricate software.  Or, since an Italian Ice business at first is not so complicated, you can take advantage of the intuitive, web-based accounting software called Outright.  It's designed specifically for small businesses, and it "gets" me.  Using the beautiful, simple interface, I simply enter in each of my expense transactions, and Outright keeps track of them, allowing me to categorize them too.  I can choose the built-in categories, or I can create my own.  You know I love custom!  Outright also automagically creates nice, easy-to-read graphs showing me where my money has gone.  It also keeps track of my income, though sadly that still says $0.00. 


Perhaps its strongest feature is the connectivity between Outright and your bank accounts, allowing all the data to be pulled into Outright for ease of balancing books and syncing information.  And the cloud-based online backup is a wonderful feature too, so I won't lose that all-important business information that I've painstakingly entered.  All this is free.  If you choose to upgrade to Outright Plus, you'll get instant sales tax reporting and complete elimination of headaches at tax time.  I suppose I'll take advantage of that feature when the time comes that I actually make money.


Even though Outright is kind enough to remind me each time I log in that I am "in the red", I am certain its powerful, easy tools will benefit me as my business grows.  So, I hope this software benefits you as much as it has, and will, me. 

Italian Ice Business Startup Costs

Posted by Lilly on May 1, 2012 at 7:55 AM Comments comments (1)

In this post I'm going to break out my actual expenses thus far in starting my own Italian Ice business.  These are real and actual numbers, not fabricated, not guessed at or estimated.  And I don't want you to feel discouraged when you see them.  Analyzing things in the light of day is often the best reality check and helps us set a realistic course, and it may even spark your creativity as you see the need to step up sales and marketing. 


The numbers below represent what I have chosen to purchase, and may not reflect the choices you decided to make.  You can scale back, buy used, forego frivolous items or ramp up certain other areas.  However, most of the numbers are necessities.  So, here we go.


Equipment/Assets

  • Custom Cart $3000
  • Car Hitch $200
  • Transport Carrier for Cart $500 (labor to install not yet calculated)
  • Winch $350
  • Custom Umbrella $225
  • Portable Chair $92
  • Chest Freezer $400
  • TOTAL: $4,767


Government Fees & Business Setup

  • Health Dept. Plan Review $229
  • Fictitious Name Application $70
  • Fictitious Name Advertising $70
  • Business Insurance $300
  • Website Domain & Hosting $60
  • TOTAL: $729 (not including local permits to be obtained)


Supplies (Office & Selling)

  • Calendar Manager/Mileage Log/Signage/Misc. $120
  • Cups $195
  • Spoons $100
  • Napkins $48
  • Napkin Holders (2) $48
  • Freezer Thermometers (2) $5
  • Reuseable Cold Plates $120
  • Vendor Aprons (2) $55
  • Dishers (scoops/6) $77
  • Promotional Spoons $140
  • Ice Cream Transport Bags (2) $270
  • Cup Dispenser $100
  • TOTAL: $1,278


GRAND RUNNING TOTAL: $6,774


Luckily, this amount was in my original guesstimate and budget.  And I know there will be additional incidentals, like actual Italian Ice, not to mention commissary rental and perhaps storage rental for me because I don't have any storage space where I live. So, to all those website and Italian Ice e-book authors that say there are low startup costs in this business, well, I suppose in relation to other businesses, there are.  But in real dollars to single operators/sole proprietors in a microbusiness, this is a lot.  Thankfully, the largest expense, that of assets and equipment, is not a recurring charge.  Therefore, operating costs are very affordable, with little overhead. 


I plan to make back much of my money by the second year.  I also have a plan I've concocted to grow my business quickly.  I won't be hiring help my first year, so all the profits will be mine.  But in my growing years, I'll bring on independent contractors to work additional carts I hope to buy.  So, don't be disillusioned.  This is a very real business enterprise, like any other.  It will require capital and your blood, sweat and tears.  If you enter into this business believing you will be making money hand-over-fist, you will soon learn otherwise.  It is a hustling business, and it's physically demanding as well.  The cart is heavy, as are the ice cream tubs.  You will be engaged in manual labor.  But, for me, I'm still so excited to have found something that is such a perfect fit, that I know I will give it whatever it takes.  


Knowing How to Price Your Ice

Posted by Lilly on April 30, 2012 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (1)

One of the questions found on other Italian Ice forums is "How do I know what price to set for my Italian Ice?"  And inevitably, answers in all ranges come out.  Then one wise soul pipes up and offers this sage yet vague advice: it depends on many factors.


But, in fact, that is the case.  Some questions to answer will be, where are you located?  How many sizes do you intend to offer?  Which of those sizes is the most profitable?  How much does your wholesale ice cost?  What are competitors in your neck of the woods charging?  Are there any competitors?  What is your overhead?  How much does one serving cost you in product, cup, spoon, napkin, etc.?  And on and on... 


So how can you figure out a way to price your ice?  One way I've heard from seasoned vendors is, if you're at an event, look to see what hotdog vendors are charging for their dogs.  Your ice should be priced the same.  Of course, that doesn't take into account how much you're offering your customers.  Is it that tiny paper cup I see people feebly holding on some YouTube videos?  Or is it a generous size serving, with addons? 


Here is how I've figured out what I will be charging.  It is a rough model, and it takes into account the  demographics of where I live and my customers' expectations.  I do have competitors around.  Well, it's one competitor with many stores, Rita's.  There's one in every little town around me.  But I have a unique plus in my corner.  There is demand for Rita's (or its product), but there isn't one in my exact town.  Nor does Rita's offer any mobile sales, besides catering (that's a future blog post).  So, I've been hitting up Rita's a lot lately, to taste-test their product against mine, but also to weasle out company information from the unsuspecting highschool employees who work there.  Actually, it's easily found information, but I like the mystery.  It adds excitement to my boring day in front of the computer, researching and writing. 


First of all, quite a few experienced Italian Ice people have already told me repeatedly, don't get into offering different sizes and different price points.  This makes sense.  Between deciding among four or more flavors and then three sizes, you create a backlog of anxious customers waiting for people ahead of them to make up their minds.  Add in that offering three sizes means your portable little business now has to carry three different sized cups.  No, that's not for me.  I want simple, simple, simple.  Why complicate something as effortless as Italian Ice and slow down sales?  I only have five months to sell! 


If you've researched the internet for Italian Ice business profit calculators, you may have encountered a few, as I did, that allow you to plug in hypothetical prices and cup sizes.  I played around with these at two different sites.  But what I found enlightening is that each one listed that sweet spot where price and quantity came together harmoniously.  Offering a small cup, approximately 6 oz. is actually the highest grossing size.  But it's such a small size that customers feel slighted or "jipped".  The medium cup is where quantity and price are ideal.  You offer slightly more than the small cup, but not double.  Your price point, however, is usually double.  The cost of the cup, spoon, napkin stays the same, as do all other costs.  And both visually and physically this size offers a generous amount.  Moving up to the large size, however, tips the scales, and now you are offering more product and charging more, but the balance is disrupted.  You cannot charge double the price of the medium for the large without customers, either rightly or wrongly, feeling that they're being overcharged.  A psychological point is reached where they feel they're overpaying, since the large is never double in quantity. So now the seller is losing profit.  The larger size also burns through product faster at this reduced profitability.  It's all very interesting and mathematical.  But analyzing the profit calculators reveals that point at which you make the highest profit for the lowest cost at greatest customer appeal.  That is what you're striving for.  And it's found in the medium cup.  That's the one that's about 8-10 oz. of product, not too small, and not too big.  Just right.


Now I know the cup size I'd like to use and an approximate quantity of Italian Ice that will go into it.  At my Rita's, I can order a kids' cup that is only 6 oz.  This will run me about $1.59.  It's small... looks small, feels small.  It's plenty for me, but I'm not most people.  Moving along, the regular cup, it turns out is 10 oz. (look at the bottom of the cup for this info, it's clearly marked).  For this they charge $2.59.  I am planning to use 9 oz. cups, smaller.  But... unlike Rita's, who only fill their cup to the top and then create a funky flattened dome, I will be using ice cream scoopers (dishers) that will create a beautiful and bountiful classic overflowing round ball above the rim of the cup.  So, really, I will also be giving my customer 10 oz.  But I'm charging $3.00, slightly more than Rita's.


I can see this is becoming a long post, but bear with me.  Rita's does not include tax in the advertised price, so when it's time to pay, with Pennsylvania's 6% sales tax, the customer actually pays $2.75.  My Italian Ice, however, includes sales tax in the $3.00 price.  Now we're only a quarter difference in our pricing, and I eliminate any hassle of dealing with coins or strange change amounts.  But I am mobile!  I'm bringing superior Italian Ice to wherever my customer might be.  The cost of driving and gas is mine, not the customer's.  So, broken down, I am pricing my ice just right to appeal to my customers' expectations for the size of cup and quantity provided in my area.  Simple! 


I do hope this helped, and that I didn't just lose you forever.  Please note, In the absence of competitors, no Rita's (you lucky dog!) and demand for your product, you could charge more.  The venue also has a lot to do with pricing, as we all know food costs more at stadiums and exclusive events than in your general neighborhood.  So take that into account as well. 

PayPal Unveils PayPal Here

Posted by Lilly on April 30, 2012 at 5:15 PM Comments comments (0)

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Well, when I invited people to join my site and watch me grow, I didn't realize how many boo-boos I would get along the way that everyone would get to witness.  Here's one...


In my haste to be able to accept credit cards for my mobile Italian Ice business, I joined up with Square, one of the first companies to offer the ability to accept credit cards via smartphone.  I blogged all about its features.  You can read about that here


Shortly thereafter, I stumbled across PayAnywhere, another credit card accepting company which offers a slightly lower transaction rate.  I then joined that company too.  In my defense, my original blog post did state that new technologies would be coming out as everyone would likely jump on this great idea.  And sure enough, that has just happened, sort of. 


PayPal, the mega-money payment company has just released the newest contender... https://www.paypal.com/webapps/mpp/credit-card-reader" target="_blank">PayPal Here.  Perhaps it's not the niftiest, most self-explanatory name, but it's certainly getting me to go there.  PayPal is offering a low rate too, and it's making it super easy to accept credit cards.  But by sitting back and seeing where the cards fell, PayPal was able to offer the best of features from one card with the best of features from another and then add to that their own great features.  This includes the ability to take checks!  In addition, a customer can pay with their PayPal account!  But, even better, the funds are transmitted into your own PayPal account.  It's unclear at the time of this writing whether funds must go to your PayPal account mandatorily or if that's your choice.  However, I was in a bit of a bind with the other technologies, and now it's all been resolved.  


You see, unless you are a Big Company, you will have to open a business checking account for little companies.  And my bank's business checking account only allows me to make 500 deposits per month.  At first reading, this number certainly seemed large enough, in fact maybe too big.  But when I realized that Square and PayAnywhere may deposit funds into my business checking one transaction at a time, it became somewhat of a concern that I'd reach 500 deposits rather quickly in one month.  Perhaps not at the start of my new business, but maybe later.  And that would then cost me in bank fees.  I'd actually been trying to find a workaround, and the best I'd concluded was to link my Square or PayAnywhere app with my personal checking, which has no set number of deposits restriction.  I'd then have to funnel money into my business checking each month.  Is your head spinning yet?!  Setting up a business checking had been expressly for the purpose of avoiding that mess. 


In comes PayPal Here like my knight in shining armor!  With sales routing right into my PayPal account, which is already linked to all my other accounts (personal and business), I can then just send money to whichever accounts I wish each month, as needed.  Problem solved. No bank fees.  No mixing of personal and business funds.  And with PayPal Here, the funds are available the same day.  That's unheard of.  Every other financial entity offers next day funds availability only.  Some other super features are... each transaction is encrypted, it's backed by a company with a track record of excellent protection, and it is the only company (currently) offering live phone and online support, ideal when a transaction or the app goes awry. 


I say this great new idea has happened "sort of" because it isn't really available yet.  But you can go to PayPal's site and register to be contacted as soon as it is, which of course, I did. 


And when you watch the video, you might notice the card reader is slanted or off center while attached to the phone.  It's not broken.  Another cool idea PayPal learned from its predecessors is that card readers swivel when connected to a smartphone's audio jack, making it a pain to get a clean swipe of a credit card.  So PayPal Here's reader comes pre-installed with its own kickstand.