There is a direct connection between your ice cream shop’s ability to meet (and raise) customers’ expectations and seeing growth in your bottom line. The ideas that follow are thought-starters for ice cream loyalty programs that can help you attract new customers, earn their loyalty and keep them coming back again and again.
Be Basic AND Flavorful
According to the International Dairy Foods Association, American’s top five favorite ice cream flavors are chocolate, cookies n’ cream, vanilla, strawberry and chocolate chip. So serving the classics is pretty much non-negotiable. However, more unique flavors like cotton candy, mocha cappuccino and blue goo can appeal to younger customers and those looking to try something different. This means it’s always a good idea to include uncommon options on your menu. You may also find that offering a signature flavor that’s unique to your store, or offering seasonal limited time flavors like pumpkin spice, will wow your customers even more.
The good news is that offering additional flavors doesn’t necessarily require a large investment in ice cream equipment. Many models can provide multiple flavors without taking up a lot of floor space or requiring a ton of maintenance. (More tips on choosing the right ice cream machine in this post). Plus, systems like Flavor Burst can add up to an additional 8 flavors to your classic offerings with the opportunity for endless flavor combinations.
Sandwich Customer Favorites
Take-out foods are an integral part of any restaurant menu, including ice cream shops. One popular eat-in and take-out favorite is ice cream sandwiches. These ice cream shop favorites can be as basic as vanilla ice cream and chocolate chip cookies. Or, as over-the-top as ice cream sandwiched between glazed donuts and rolled or dipped in your customers’ favorite toppings. The biggest benefit of these flavorful ice cream treats is that they are simple to make, freeze and store for easy sales.
Be Creative With Sundaes & Milkshakes
Ice cream sundaes may be a classic ice cream shop dish, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for innovation. New sundae flavors are perfect for adventurous customers who love new dishes and customers with a huge sweet tooth for endless toppings.
Combine these sundaes with another delicious take-out favorite, the milkshake, for another ice cream shop twist. “Freak shakes”, as they are popularly referred to, take a classic milkshake and turn it into a culinary delight by piling it high with inventive toppings – everything from bacon to cake slices and more.
Showcase That Tasty Creativity
New products are only as appealing as the marketing that gets them in front of customers. There are numerous ways to do this: eye-catching signs at the counter, menu boards, social media, and your website are common tactics that are easy to implement.
Tie new products to holidays or local events to create additional promotion opportunities. Think green ice cream desserts for St. Patrick’s Day or a “Red, White and Blue sundae” for Memorial, Independence and Labor Day celebrations. You can also pique your customers’ interest by releasing new products on a regular schedule, such as daily or weekly special flavors promoted with fun online announcements. Offer these special flavors in take-home gallons or quarts to increase customer loyalty and profit margin.
Take Customer Suggestions
One of the best ways to earn your customers’ loyalty is to listen to them. When customers make a comment, either online or in-person, owners and managers should take note. If customers rave over a particular flavor or dish, be sure to offer that flavor again and promote it to draw in those loyal fans.
Another way to capture customer insights is to add a suggestion box to your store or run a contest. The latter can be a fun way to get customer suggestions for new sundaes, seasonal flavors or freak shake ideas. Reward the most creative ideas with the promise of a free cone or sundae and you’ll not only have new ideas, you’ll likely gain a customer for life.
Capturing your customers’ attention and loyalty are sure-fire ways to boost your bottom line. Need help or inspiration? Our team of experts is happy to discuss options with you to create the menu right for your store.