Developing an Outside Take-Out Business


Ice cream retailers complain to me all the time about the lack of winter business and are always asking – what they should do to improve sales during the winter months. What I tell them is that to get over the winter sales slump is not something that can only be addressed during the winter months. It’s all about selling products and services all year round that translates into the customer’s mind of who you are and what you have to offer.

One of the most significant things an ice cream retailer can do is to develop an outside sales program offering your own ice cream, sorbets, and ice cream cakes. It is a very sure way to build unlimited sales and increase profits for your store that works well not only in the winter months, but even more so in the very busy summer months.

In addition to selling these great desserts, you will be able to enhance your outside sales program by offering other auxiliary products for sale like balloons (very high profit margins) and toppings.

And finally, to complete the program, you can and should offer a delivery and serving service using your store employees. It’s not only a great service for your customers, but for your employees as well. For them it’s a chance to earn extra money. They’ll love the experience!

Selling these great desserts to restaurants, business offices, and organizations will help get you through a cold winter and make your business flourish all year long. But first, you need a game plan. Give this program some nurturing, and watch it grow.

Ask yourself this question: What products would I like to sell to restaurants, or use for catering to organizations and other businesses? You can offer 1,2, or all of the following:


  • Pints and quarts
  • Five quart or 2 ½ gallon tubs of ice creams
  • Whole undecorated desserts
  • Whole decorated desserts
  • Whole desserts frosted in whipped creme (no decoration)

A successful outside sales program is only as good as the services you offer and ultimately deliver to your customers. These services include:

Delivery of Products
Being able to deliver products on time and in good condition will go a long way towards building repeat outside sales, whether it is delivery to restaurants or business offices.

Because of lack of freezer refrigeration at most places of business, organizations and clubs, delivery of a frozen dessert at a designated time for someone’s birthday or special occasion party is extremely important. It is a service that builds sales and profits.

If you plan a delivery service it is important first to check with your insurance company and/or agency regarding your liabilities. Your car may be insured, but your employees may not be.

You should set a sales minimum of $15.00 for free delivery so that your out-of-pocket expense for this service doesn’t get out of control.

Service At The Party
There will be many opportunities for you to service a party by having your employees both deliver the desserts and serve them as well.

This service policy affords you an excellent opportunity to offer a full catering program for the occasion. Not only can you make money servicing the party, but also, in most cases, since you will be serving the products, you can  supply the necessary plates, forks, napkins, and other accessories bringing you an additional source of revenue  from the event.

Example of a Full Service Catering Package- $15.00 to 20.00 plus price of dessert includes:
(Free delivery)

  • One employee serving dessert for maximum of one half hour
  • Dessert plates/napkins/fork or spoons
  • Balloons
  • Candles/matches

Developing, promoting, and implementing a sales program for selling your desserts to restaurants and other institutions can generate significant sales for your store.

Call the restaurant during slow business hours (mornings and late afternoons are usually best). Always ask to speak directly with the owner, manager, or chef.

Telephone Call – Restaurant
Opening Statement
“Good Morning. My name is Malcolm Stogo and I am the owner/manager of Malcolm’s Best. As you may already know, Malcolm’s Best has the reputation for the best ice cream in New York, and I am calling you to discuss an exceptional new dessert program we can offer you.
We have an exquisite line of ice creams and 10 unique ice cream cakes, which would make a wonderful addition to your menu.
I would like to personally bring you an array of our desserts, show you ways of serving and presenting them, and let you and your staff sample them. I think you will be convinced that adding Malcolm’s Best ice cream cakes to your
menu is a sure way of increasing the check average at your restaurant.
What day and time would be most convenient for you? Please invite as many employees (cooks, chefs, waitresses, etc.) as you wish to join in the sampling.”

(Offer to name and describe each product, or tell the potential client you will bring a variety of products suitable to his menu.)

Bring several different desserts to the meeting, unless the client requests specific ones or flavors. An assortment of ice cream/gelato (8 ounce containers), sorbet, and pre-sliced ice cream cakes, both decorated and undecorated is recommended, but always show the decorated ones first. Limit your presentation to 30 minutes.

Do Aheads

  • Make certain all sample desserts are in excellent condition, completely frozen, and in clean cake boxes.
  • Use ice chests for transporting all frozen products from your store to the meeting.
  • Include a price sheet listing all available desserts.

The Meeting

  • Introduce yourself and your assistant to the client.
  • Set up your products in the following manner:
  • Layout all toppings, decorating materials, serving utensils, and small wares in an organized manner.
  • Set out dessert brochures and price list.
  • Remove boxed decorated cakes from the ice chests first.
  • When you have your client’s full attention, unveil each dessert and prepare to describe it in mouthwatering detail.
  • Give the client a slice of each dessert, and show at least one possible presentation. Give desserts samples to all staff members present.

The following should be discussed during the meeting:

Dessert Descriptions

  • Storage of desserts (-15 degrees, stored away from foods with strong odors- fish, etc.)
  • Tempering desserts (0 to +30F)
  • Cutting desserts (utensils needed and methods)
  • Prices (wholesale)
  • Prices (priced on menu)
  • Delivery of desserts (see below)
  • Training employees (offer to do this)
  • Merchandising materials