How to Start an Ice Cream Truck Business in San Diego, California

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Starting an ice cream truck business in San Diego is easy.
Starting an ice cream truck business in San Diego is easy. (Image: Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Getting a tasty frozen treat from the ice cream man is a time-honored tradition in the United States. If you are considering starting your own ice cream truck business in San Diego, you will need to be prepared. You will need proper capital, necessary permits, industrial freezers and liability insurance. You should also scout out local neighborhoods to make sure there is not established competition.

Prepare a business plan. Before you start applying for food permits, you should lay out your exact business plan. Expenses will include an ice cream truck, liability and business insurance, gas and a full stock of ice cream. Visit the neighborhoods in San Diego in which you are considering serving your products. See if there is any competition. Determine which months of the year it is warm enough to sell enough product to make an adequate profit. Decide if you want to become a traditional ice cream truck seller or are going to create a unique business selling specialty items such as handmade ice cream sandwiches or your own flavors.

Get necessary permits and licenses. Contact the County of San Diego's Department of Health to determine the permits you will need for the areas you plan to do business. Get a list of regulations for ice cream trucks before you purchse the truck. You can also use the federal government's "Permit Me" tool to determine any other necessary city, state and federal permits and licenses.

Buy an ice cream truck. You can either purchase a new truck or a used one. Listings of trucks can be found at the Ice Cream Truck Store and on Ebay. Inspect the truck to make sure there are no mechanical or cosmetic problems. Ask the owner if it has recently passed all regulations to operate. After you buy the truck, register it at the DMV.

Purchase insurance. Because you are operating a food business in a moving vehicle around children, insurance is a must. Shop around for a policy that will cover your business, vehicle and any liability.

Get a name and products to sell. If you are going to be selling traditional ice cream treats, purchase a good supply from a local wholesaler. If you plan to create a more unique, hip ice cream truck, decide on your menu and make your products. Inquire to see if you need additional permits for making your own food. Create a name that matches your product offerings.

Establish a route. You will need to find a route that is not already serviced by other ice cream trucks. Residents will typically get use to a certain schedule and will recognize the sound of your ice cream truck music. Introduce yourself to parents so they are comfortable letting their kids buy from you on their own.

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