No one is ever too old for ice cream. Whether you’re a giggly four-year-old toddler or a busy 25-year-old young adult, the nostalgic song coming from an approaching ice cream truck never fails excite inner child. Founded in Philadelphia in 1956 by the Conway brothers, Mister Softee, Inc. has grown as America’s oldest and largest ice cream truck franchisor with over 350 franchisees and 634 ice cream trucks.

How much will it cost to open a Mister Softee? To become a Mister Softee franchisee, you’ll need a working capital worth $8,000 to $15,000 and a net worth of $185,000. The total investment is between $169,000 to $203,500, but the good news is that you only have to pay $7,500 to become a licensed franchisee. This is a significantly lower investment threshold than other business opportunities. 

In this franchise review, I walk you through the details of this ice cream truck business to keep in mind before you decide to invest. Take our 7-minute franchise quiz to find out if this ice cream business is right for you. 

Financial Requirements and Fees

Below is an overview of the financial requirements you need to meet and the fees you need to pay to become a part of the Mister Softee franchise community.

Liquid Capital $8,000 to $15,000
Net Worth $185,000
Total Investment $169,000 to $203,500
Franchise Fee $7,500

It only takes  $169,000 to $203,500 to run a truck or an outlet and $75,000 to get the license to operate it. The royalty fee of this franchise is only $3,675, which is already good for a year. The franchise agreement lasts for a decade and can be renewed every five years. 

If you need help with your investment, you may opt for in-house financing to cover certain costs such as territory, startup costs, equipment, and even franchise fee. In this business model, you may choose not to hire anyone because the mobile unit can be single-handedly operated. This franchise is indeed an ideal business venture if you are looking for an affordable yet profitable investment. Compare the costs difference between starting your own food truck.

Average Sales/Revenue per Year

Below is an overview of the performance of the franchise in terms of the indicated items:

Systemwide Annual Sales $10,000,000 to $20,000,000
Average Sales per Unit $15,772 – $31,544
Average Franchise Profit $28,571

The exact amount of Mister Softee’s recent company revenue is not publicly disclosed, however, a source estimated it to range between $10,000,000 – $20,000,000. That’s a pretty broad estimate. Currently, there are 634 ice cream trucks roaming the country, which means each unit may earn between $15,772 – $31,544 in profit per truck.

Of course, keep in mind that many of the Mister Softee’s don’t operate 7 days a week, 365 days per year. Many of these are operating on a part-time or seasonal business during the heat of the summer. For many, this is a part-time and fun way to supplement an income during the summer months. 

Depending on the strategy of the franchise owner, it is possible for a Mister Softee location to earn a revenue of as much as $315,400 per employee, just like in the case of Mister Softee Ice Cream Delmar. Another Mister Softee truck owner named Sergio Gonzales could earn as much as $300 per day with his innovative ice cream machines and his strategic routes. With these performances, one could expect to make an average franchise profit of at least $28,571 annually. Don’t forget that you could also bring in some tips, which would not be included in these figures. 

How much does a Mister Softee Truck Make?

A Mister Softee Truck does not need a lot of employees for it to run smoothly. Most of the ice cream entrepreneurs who operate these trucks are owner / operators. There’s usually not even margin in these businesses to support full-time staff. You’ll be hiring temporary workers at the most. 

In terms of salary, Mister Softee Truck Drivers approximately earn $18.87 per hour, which accumulates to $776 per week. Onn the other hand, Owner Operator Drivers earns $11.25 per hour, which becomes $706 by the end of the week. 

How Much Profit Does Mister Softee Franchisee Make Per Year?

Sprinkles overload!

The ice cream truck industry has an attractive profit margin of at least 50%. The ice cream industry as a whole has a profit margin of 77.83%. The products of Mister Softee are not just soft-served ice cream; they also offer treats like milkshakes, sundaes, soda boats, and banana boats.

With such variety, your ice cream truck may earn $15,772 – $31,544 per unit. Obviously when it comes to the ice cream truck business, the more you go out, the more you make. If your truck isn’t on the road, you’re not making money. 

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Keep in mind though, earnings of your truck may differ because of factors you can’t control: where you operate, frequency of operation, your marketing skills, and the climate where you live. Nonetheless, the potential for more profitability still stands because of the perks of owning an ice cream truck, such as traveling to a location where there is a high demand and being invited to an event or a holiday where you may earn up to a thousand dollars in a day. 

How Much does it cost to get a Mister Softee Truck to Come to your House?

Another way you can earn with your Mister Softee truck is through accepting invitations to different events such as birthday parties, weddings, school fundraisers, company picnics, fairs, and other live events.

A Mister Softee Truck rental will cost you $249 + tax. At this price rate, you may enjoy up to 30 treats for 30 minutes. To book the ice cream truck, a customer may visit the website and fill out the form for the reservation. 

Mister Softee Franchise Facts

Below is an overview of the things you need to know about the company. Let’s dive into the history of Mister Softee and some facts about its franchise business.

Total Units 634
Incorporated Name Mister Softee, Inc.
Franchising Since 2000
Industry Ice Cream
Subsector Ice Cream Truck 
Year Founded 1956

Ice cream trucks became a thing in the early 50’s. In 1956, William Conway and James Conway worked at Sweden Freezer, a company that sells ice cream machines. People would come to them to buy the machine so they could install the equipment to their truck but none of their attempts seemed to work well.

The Conway brothers knew what went wrong to their efforts as they took notice of the demand for the ice cream machine. They then suggested that their company create a separate division that would specialize in providing service and supplies to ice cream trucks. Sweden Freezer rejected their proposal, so they decided to leave Sweden and go to their uncle in Philadelphia to borrow money to start an ice cream truck business.

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Franchise reviews revealed that the company has been franchising since 2000, but according to some history reports, they already had Irish, Italian, and Greek franchisees in the early 60’s. Today, Mister Softee roams as the country’s oldest and largest ice cream truck franchisor with 350 franchisees and 634 ice cream trucks. As of 2020, the ice cream market is valued at $62,400,000,000 at a 2.4% CAGR. This is a big market that is still showing modest growth. 

Who owns Mister Softee?

Mister Softee was founded by William Conway and James Conway in 1956, the Irish-American immigrants who successfully operated an ice cream truck in the streets of Philadelphia. They were former employees at the Sweden Freezer, a company that sells ice cream machines.

When they officially established their business, they built their headquarters in Runnemede, New Jersey, in 1958. It still remains today, but it is now run by the Conway family and co-owned by both founders’ sons, Jim Conway Jr. and John Conway.

Advantages of Franchising Mister Softee

Ice cream always lights up the mood of every child.

In case you’re wondering what makes Mister Softee a viable franchise to invest in, here’s what I view as the advantages of this business and briefly highlight each point.

  • Flexible Location – The mobility feature of this business model allows you to have flexible earning opportunities. In other words, you can travel where the money is. Also, you can be booked for festive events and earn as much as possible. Many vendors generate sales by traveling a route through residential areas. Other vendors focus more on booking events where you can get more consistent revenue when you go out through booking birthday parties.  
  • Low Manpower Requirement – Whether you own a parlor or a truck, an ice cream store does not need many employees for it to run smoothly. You can literally be on your own serving ice creams and hire one assistant to help you serve novelty ice cream or soft serve.
  • High profitability – Mister Softee already has a strong brand recognition with a ubiquitous presence in the market. The ice cream industry has a profit margin of 77.83%, while the ice cream truck industry has a profit margin of at least 50%. This is a strong profit margin, compared to other food businesses like restaurants that aim for 33% product margin. 
  • Affordable startup cost – Mister Softee is one of the franchises which you can start investing with only $10,000 in your hand. A franchise license of this business only costs $7,500. Many franchise opportunities require a million dollars or more. You only need a working capital of $50,000 (average net worth of a 35-year-old) and a net worth of $185,000 (average net worth of a 55-year-old).
  • Supportive franchisor – If you are still a beginner in the franchise world, then this could be a good entry point into the industry due to simpler operations. It’s also a business you could start in the part-time. Mister Softee is willing to train you from setting up the route for your unit to serving your customers. They will also ensure that you have a defined marketing area so your advertising and promotion strategies will be as effective as possible. Aside from that, they can also take care of your supplies and parts immediately at an affordable cost. 

Challenges of Franchising Mister Softee

Though Mister Softee was glorified in the previous section, it is not an entirely flawless business to venture into. Being their franchisee can also be challenging for the following reasons.

  • Facing threats from a rival – If you are familiar with the issue between Mister Softee and New York Ice Cream, then you may remember that these rivals have a dark history. Apparently, NYICC tried to take customers from Mister Softee by playing their iconic jingle or plagiarizing their vanilla-soft-served-headed mascot, which has a nostalgic essence. Mister Softee has hired investigators to keep track of their rivals to protect the brand’s authenticity. I’m not sure if it has been resolved today, but there is a chance that it will reoccur in the future. 
  • Incomplete facility in the workspace –  Well, a truck is a truck. It can have a small kitchen inside or a mini resting place, but it would be be difficult to put a restroom. This setup is tolerable for men because, for women truck drivers, it can be inconvenient because you really have to find a public restroom so you can have a break. 

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  • Unpredictable weather – Mister Softee is an ideal dessert place to go when the sun shines bright above, but in a country with four seasons and unpredictable rainy weather, it can be challenging to keep the customers coming in one place. People may rather find a closed venue to dine in in unfavorable times. You will then have to go somewhere else to find a more stable demand.
  • Gasoline price hike – As an ice cream truck driver, you would be traveling A LOT. This means that you have to allocate a generous fund to your gasoline, especially if the distance between the stations of your route can be quite far. The gasoline price hike is a normal phenomenon in a country. In 2021, the retail prices for gasoline significantly increased because of factors like higher demand and low gasoline inventories. 
  • Tough to make a full-time living. Let’s face it, if you only own one Mister Softee truck, you probably won’t be able to sustain yourself and a family by bringing in the average profit of $28,571 per year. Good luck buying a house and feeding a family with that income alone. If your goal is to make $100,000+ or more with a Mister Softee, you’ll need to invest in multiple units to make it happen if you look at the expectations. 

What’s your favorite Mister Softee ice cream flavor?

Mister Softee is welcoming to franchisee’s who want to operate an ice cream business. This is not the case for all franchise opportunities. Even as beginners, they are willing to accept you in the franchise community and give you the training and support you need to grow as an entrepreneur.

In terms of the financial aspect, Mister Softee only requires you to have a $50,000 worth of working capital and a $185,000 net worth. If you are looking for a franchise opportunity that will give you flexible working hours and unlimited earning potential at a very affordable rate, then this is your sign to pursue an ice cream truck business. This is a particularly good opportunity if you’re looking for a business to operate seasonally or part-time on the weekends to bring in some extra money. Most franchise opportunities require a full-time commitment right away so this is a unique way to get into business for yourself.