How Much Can You Earn From Selling Ice Cream?


Remember the rings of an ice cream motorbike or van in the early years of your childhood? The sleepy afternoons and slow evenings are taken over by a rush of excitement and adrenaline as you run down to get your favourite ice cream flavour.

You give the ice cream uncle or aunty that $1++ in exchange for a sweet, cold treat. Have you ever wondered how much these ice cream sellers earn? Is it sustainable and enough to survive in Singapore?

I got to interview a Singaporean couple who runs an ice cream business with their humble, reliable van. We’ll also compare it with a door-to-door ice cream ad-hoc job.

Selling Ice Cream From A Van

Singapore Ice-Cream man

The first thing you need to be able to do is drive the vehicle – obvious but neglected. It isn’t just about getting a supply of ice cream and selling it to tourists along Orchard road.

Operating an ice cream truck, van or motorbike is similar to running and marketing a business. You have to manage various aspects: cash flow, operations, competition, get a system up, create a network, and of course, serve ice cream.

The aunty mentioned that she and her husband had to balance the money coming in with their expenditure. They had to consider the petrol, the vehicle (COE), ERP (if suay), ice cream supplies, and parking.

Apart from that, they have 3 children to feed!

Here is a rough gauge on these prices in Singapore:

Prices of Selling Ice-Cream

On top of that are other responsibilities such as paying for house rent, bills, and basic necessities like food and housekeeping. There are also education expenses for their children – all these should be taken into account as well. They had to work to their bones, accruing up to more than 40 hours a week.

Seems like a tough life?

Perhaps, instead of complaining about the increase in price from $1 to $1.20 – $1.50, we should understand that they are merely trying to make an honest living by giving you and I a more joyful day with a scoop (or more) of ice cream.

Here’s a breakdown of their daily earnings:

Earnings of an Ice-Cream Van

On good days where the weather feels like a sweltering Australian heatwave, they tend to get more business. The reason to that is pretty self-explanatory.

Bad days, on the other hand, are during rainy days. That being said, the ice cream aunty added that her regular come down at times, armed with umbrellas and a smile – anticipating the taste of their favourite ice cream.

Selling Ice Cream Door-to-Door

Youths going about the neighbourhood at night with a styrofoam box, asking if you’d want some ice cream – does it ring a bell?

For these youths, going door-to-door is tough; besides guaranteed perspiration, you might not reach your sales quota, and may even get some nasty encounters with people.

Yet if you think you’re up for it, the commissions for selling ice cream door-to-door could be better than a fixed pay part-time job.

This way of selling ice cream, though, has died down because of too many door to door scams.

While there isn’t much information on how much you can make from selling ice cream door-to-door, someone who used to earn some extra cash through this mentioned it anonymously a forum:

“I used to sell that ice cream and we were given a few stories to use if we wanted. Cuz we earn based on commission. Each box we must return $4 to the guy-in-charge.”

“They recommend we sell for $10. I used to sell at $12 per box but if buy 3 or more will be $10 per box. Cleared my 40 boxes every night within 1-2hrs.”

“Worked 5 days a week. Pay was decent.”

With basic math, if you too can sell 40 boxes of ice cream in 2 hours (let’s be conservative here), and decide to sell each for $12, you’ll earn a profit of $8/box. Multiply that with 40 boxes, you can earn up to $320 in 2 hours – which also means $160/hour!

As compared to a usual $7/hour for most part-time jobs, this is a considered a goldmine.

If you’re interested, you can check out a legal way of selling ice cream door-to-door here.

Is It Sustainable To Sell Ice Cream As A Living?

Now that you know how much you can earn by selling ice cream from these two variations, you’ll probably be wondering if you can actually rely on this as a source of income.

The answer is that it depends. It boils down to your business acumen – how you stand out from your competition, cut expenditure, and more.

If you’re able to make money, keep the money, and invest money – it is sustainable in my opinion. Business is everywhere. Successful business comes from great sales and marketing – can you handle that?

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