You’ve heard the customer buzz about frozen beverages. You’ve seen the numbers showing how a frozen beverage program can propel you profits into the black. You’re interested in starting a frozen beverage program, but have no idea where to start.  

With so many different equipment brands, beverage distributors, frozen drink machine models and drink types, starting a frozen beverage program can seem intimidating. Don’t worry. Walk yourself through the following questions to ensure that you select the frozen beverage program that is best for your specific business

1. What are Your Business Objectives? 

 Assessing the goals of your business is the first step when considering the addition of a new frozen beverage program. Incorporating a frozen drink station can help business owners reach various objectives, including:

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  • Increasing drink profits– Most frozen beverages require limited ingredients and can be sold at a higher price point than fountain drinks and canned/bottled beverages.
  • Growing overall ticket sales– Frozen drinks have proven to increase overall sales because they trigger impulse buys for items, such as candy, food or other snacks.
  • Expanding menus– Adding new specialty beverages to your menu can be a quick and effective way to switch up your product offerings. Most frozen beverage programs are flexible, so you can change drink flavors as the demands of your customer base change.
  • Increasing foot traffic– Frozen drinks are not found everywhere, so having a frozen drink station at your location can be a huge draw for customers who are on the hunt for a refreshing snack.
  • Competing with local businesses– Set yourself apart from other businesses in your industry by offering a specialty product like frozen beverages.
  • Expanding audience demographics– The love for frozen drinks expands over a broad age group, from kids who are intrigued by fun flavors and bright colors to Baby Boomers who get nostalgia from the crisp sensation of a frozen carbonated beverage.

 2. What Can Your Operation Accommodate? 

 The type of drink program and number of frozen drink machines needed depends on the size and setup of your location, average traffic level and number of employees. For example, if you have a small convenience store with limited space and low to medium traffic, you should consider a beverage dispenser with a small footprint and medium to low capacity (drinks per hour). However, if your location is a fast-paced environment that has peak hours and long lines, multiple high capacity dispensers might be a better fit.

 If you have a limited number of staff on duty, a self-serve drink station may be an efficient solution. Choose frozen drink dispensers that are easy to use and appealing to your customers. Some machines are equipped with video doors that can play looped graphics or videos to entice and entertain your audience.

 Space is one of the most important factors to consider when looking into a frozen beverage program. Look for frozen drink machines that have a small footprint and that can churn out enough product to meet the needs of your customers. Not every operation has available counter space, so alternative options like metal carts are available. It is also important to place your frozen drink machine(s) in a visible area. The location of your drink station can greatly impact the success of your frozen drink program.

 3.How Much Time Do You Have For Maintenance? 

 The amount of time spent on maintenance can vary depending on the type of drink you are serving and the type of equipment you are using. Dairy-inclusive drink dispensers, such as milkshake, smoothie and soft-serve machines require more frequent cleaning than machines for slush and frozen carbonated beverages.

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Also, consider investing in equipment that requires minimal tools for cleaning and/or has easily accessible components. Some frozen drink machines can even detect system errors before they occur and help operators troubleshoot. Features like this can make servicing and cleaning quick and stress free!

4. How quickly do you need to see a return on investment?

Operators can see a return on investment in as little as 6 months depending on the level of traffic and price point of each frozen drink. High-traffic industries, such as movie theaters, amusement parks and fast food chains experience the quickest ROI due to the nature of their business. Use this ROI calculatorto estimate how quickly you can see a return on investment.

 5. What is your budget? 

Setting your budget and knowing your financing options will guide your purchasing decision. Consider your complete cost of ownership, including the initial equipment purchase, maintenance, beverage products (syrup or other ingredients), part replacements and operating costs. Water and utility costs are typically minimal depending on the location/setup of your business.

If you are not comfortable with purchasing equipment, many frozen beverage distribution companies offer leasing and renting options. Although this option many seem appealing to business owners entering the frozen beverage industry, the high upcharge of syrup used in this bundle approach is not cost effective unless drink sales are consistently high. Knowing the traffic level and retail price of your frozen drinks will help you best gauge what type and size frozen drink machine will be most profitable.

Now it’s time to explore your options!