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When the Scoop Falls Off the Cone

October 25, 2011

turnkey parlor ice cream neil williams

When ice cream goes wrong

When the scoop falls off the cone.
While finishing up a purchase at the grocery store with the family, my daughter Coco (10) asked me if she could run next door and buy a scoop of ice cream. I said sure…… so my wife Amy and Coco headed out toward the ice cream shop. Amy handed Coco a $5 bill and walked over to our car, which was right in front of the ice cream store.
At few minutes later, I was coming out of the super market with the groceries and Coco was jumping in the back seat of the car. I walked up, put the groceries in and off we went to take Coco to dance class. Later that afternoon, Amy went to pick her up at dance and Coco mentioned that she actually didn’t eat ice cream.  It seems that Amy and I were too busy talking in the car earlier to notice that Coco wasn’t eating a cone. Here’s what happened. Coco bought the cone, walked outside, took a lick and the scoop dropped on the ground. She went back in to explain what had happened, and the employee told Coco she would have to buy another scoop (more than $3).  So Coco, being the good kid that she is, decided to accept her fate and move on.
The story could have ended there…..but of course, it didn’t. My wife Amy isn’t one to complain, but if she feels wronged, you’re going to know about it.So, Amy went back to the ice cream store and explained to the employee that our family has been in the ice cream business for more than 20 years, and charging someone again for a dropped scoop is just plain wrong. The employee went on to say that this was the owners policy. She said that it happens all the time. Two other employees were “snickering” in the background as if Amy was an evil, hard to please customer.A few things wrong with this picture:If you’re so desperate to lose the 50 cents the scoop costs you to replace it, you’re in big trouble and should either sell the business or accept that you will soon be closing it.If  it happens all the time, meaning scoops fall off the cone all the time, then the “scoopers” are doing something wrong. There’s an art to putting ice cream on a cone. Sure, once in a while someone is going to lick the scoop off the cone, and it will fall to the ground. But if this is happening regularly, then it is not the customer’s problem, it is the store’s problem. At the very least, the server should warn the customer if the scoop is not secured to the cone the way it should be.Our family is a “great customer” who is capable of spending at least $100 a month at an ice cream or yogurt shop that we like. We will never patronize that store again.Is it worth losing a potential regular client for 50 cents? The answer is clearly NO in my opinion.It’s difficult and expensive to get new customers in the door. Make sure that the experience is outstanding and your business will grow and grow.Worry about losing 50 cents on a replacement cone and watch yourself start cutting back hours, laying off employees and see your business slowly deteriorate.The owner of this shop is obviously struggling and he or she probably thinks that it is due to the economy, or because of some other reason other than the stores customer service.I’m sure if I went to that store again, at some point, they would serve me re-frozen ice cream.I say this because it’s a slippery slope when you try too hard to control costs and do so in areas where it has no place (product quality and customer service).I understand the need to control food costs and keep them low. It’s tough to throw away product. But the minute you start selling ice cream that “just melted a little” is the day you need to be in another business. If you have to raise prices, raise prices. Trust me on this one – you will lose a lot more customers by selling them sub standard product than by charging them more for a quality ice cream.
If you’ve had a bad experience in an ice cream shop, please feel free to comment below and share your experience. Or, tell us about a great experience you had in an ice cream  shop and why you will continue to go to that store.
If you own an ice cream parlor, frozen yogurt, gelato or Italian ice store, tell us how you make sure your customers have a positive experience (comment below).
Happy Holidays and good selling!
Neil Williams