Forget the rock-hard pretzels and suspicious-looking hot dogs that cart vendors were once known for. Nowadays, the mobile foodservice space is populated by specialty coffee concepts, gourmet popcorn carts, and Korean barbecue on wheels. And business is booming for these operators as they look to economize and get in front of consumers in new ways.
Quick-service brands that partner with schools are facing stricter federal regulations thanks to the 2013 introduction of the Unites States Department of Agriculture’s Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards. As the guidelines swing into full effect on July 1, mobile truck brand Kona Ice will continue its support of nearly 2,500 schools as a fundraising partner with revamped products specifically designed to meet the new rules.
Selecting the most suitable charitable organization for a brand from among numerous noteworthy causes can be a daunting task. That’s why Tony Lamb, president of shaved-ice truck brand Kona Ice, designed his brand’s giving-back efforts around individual communities rather than large-scale nonprofits and campaigns.
This year, Kona decided to capture all of its community initiatives under one campaign, the “Flavor Our World” initiative. Through the initiative, Kona Ice promotes all of the work its franchisees are doing in their communities.
Franchising is good business for America’s war veterans—one in seven franchises is owned by a veteran, according to data from the International Franchise Association. The quick-serve industry is home to a good portion of those former military personnel, and a recent survey by the Franchise Business Review sheds light on which brands do the most for veterans.
It’s no secret that the Millennial generation has been hit particularly hard by today’s high unemployment. According to a recent study from Accenture, 61 percent of 2012’s graduating class of college seniors did not have jobs lined up when they graduated. Further, a Pew Research Center study found that 36 percent of people age 18 to 31 were living with their parents in 2012.
Kona Ice CEO Tony Lamb sympathizes with Millennials and has initiated a new entrepreneurial internship program designed specifically for these young men and women.
To say Kona Ice is growing quickly would be an understatement. In the first six months of 2013 alone, the shaved ice concept has expanded from 305 trucks on the road to 409—opening a whopping 100 trucks in 100 days, says president and Kona Ice founder Tony Lamb.
“We’ve been building like crazy all winter long to make sure we have inventory, and the sales have just not stopped,” he says.
Imagine a market of 173 million potential customers. Seventy-eight million of them are female (often the primary decision-maker in the family), 61 million are college students, and 29 million have an income of more than $100,000.
Seems like a no-brainer for operators, right?
Every brand wants to be bigger and more profitable. But leaders and experts in the quick-service restaurant industry say finding the correct growth rate is a delicate balance of having a clear appreciation for resource and talent capacity and an understanding of one’s appetite for risk.
Dan Simons, who runs Vucurevich Simons Advisory Group, a restaurant-consulting firm based in Maryland and Texas, says the appropriate expansion rate shouldn’t be based entirely on the popularity of a
It has been a year of extraordinary expansion for one of America’s favorite franchises. Adding 180 trucks in just the past 18 months, Kona Ice is on an ascent that will continue in 2013 and beyond.
The excitement around Kona Ice stems from the brand’s entrance into top-tier U.S. markets with new franchisees, updated trucks, and the recently launched Kona Mini, an innovative pushcart service station.
As it has emerged into America’s consciousness, Kona Ice has been able to significantly increase its ongoing community give back program, which has now surpassed $6 million.
As colder weather rolls around, many Kona Ice franchisees are winding down business for the season. But some are ready to make their shaved-ice truck a 12-months-a-year business—and with the new Kona Mini cart, they can.
Founder Tony Lamb says the new cart—which measures 68 inches long, 31 inches wide, and 60 inches high and is an exact replica of the brand’s iconic truck—was created with two purposes in mind.
First, the brand wanted to manage its fast-paced growth so that franchisees wouldn’t take on too much debt compared to return on investment.