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Feb 19

Ice Cream Shop

Last summer I had the opportunity to interview an ice cream shop owner in a small town of about 22,000 people. During the interview I had a unique insight into an area that I had never worked in before.

I spoke with the local owner Tricia Karas about the dairy dream that she owned for now 15 years.

Trisha has been a small business owner for several years prior to owning the Dairy Mart. Trisha stated that she was involved in multi-level marketing for Mary Kay as an individual retailer. She says she learned many valuable lessons on how to take care of a customer during those first few years that she really struggled to make ends meet. Tricia told me that the game changer for her was understanding that she needed to provide a product that the consumer had great desire to get.
Tricia also stated that during this. She was able to save money and take vacations with her family during the winter months while the dairy Mart was closed. This type of lifestyle was very desirable to her as she wanted to spend as much time with family that was aging in Florida. This flexibility and her schedule an ability to run a business that was naturally open only during the summer months added to her happiness. She says that during the nine months that she’s actually working she’s working several hours and able to make up financially what she would be making if she was opened the full 12 months out of the year. She says the secret of that though is constantly cross selling. As well as effective advertising dollars in the local newspaper as well as in sponsored Google ads and other forms of advertising that she does through sponsoring local soccer baseball and football teams.

I ask Tricia what her biggest challenge was when it comes to the business that she’s in. Tricia stated to me that the biggest challenge she has is just getting the type of staffing that she needs to have for coverage. Often the staff that she has typically tends to be very young. Tricia stated because the price points that she has to meet to be competitive do not allow her to pay much more than minimum wage. Trisha said one of the ways around these challenges by offering simple rewards for employees that do extraordinary work she said that by tracking her up sell and cross sale abilities she is able to give small bonuses to employees so they learn the value of being able to cross sell. Simple things like making it a banana split as opposed to just a¬†Sunday¬†float adds another $2 to the kitty which is always healthy when you’re thinking about up sale abilities and opportunities.

Tricia stated the overall she’s very happy with the type of work that she does and hopes to pass on this business to her daughter one day. She said the greatest advantage of owning your own business is you get to teach your kids how to run a business and not work for someone else but work for yourself. Tricia believe that being self-employed is the only type of employment she will be able to keep for the rest of her life and feels extremely satisfied with how she’s continuing to grow her business.