Everything You Need to Know About Working in An Ice Cream Shop

Everything You Need To Know About Working At An Ice Cream Shop

Everything you need to know about working in an ice cream shop. That’s right, whether you want to start your own ice cream shop or work at an ice cream store (because who doesn’t) – I am going to share with you everything you need to know about working in an ice cream shop. In this post I will cover all the main questions you need to know including:

  • What Are Ice Cream Workers Called?
  • What Does an Ice Cream Worker Do?
  • What Skills Do You Need to Work at An Ice Cream Shop?
  • Is Working at An Ice Cream Shop Hard?
  • Is Working at An Ice Cream Shop Fun?
  • Do Ice Cream Workers Get Tips?
  • What Should I Wear to An Ice Cream Shop Interview?
  • Why Do I Want to Work at An Ice Cream Shop?

What is an Ice Cream Shop Worker’s main role?

An ice cream shop worker’s main role is to serve customers ice cream. Excellent customer service skills and interpersonal skills are a must to work at an ice cream shop. Ice cream workers may also have to close or open the shop, clean the shop, and make ice cream.

Over my 6 years of owning and managing an ice cream shop, I have hired and managed 38 employees. Also, in the early years, my wife and I worked a lot of the shifts ourselves so we could familiarize ourselves with our first ice cream shop’s daily operations. As an owner/manager – I think it is super important you have a firsthand understanding of how everything works, runs and operates in your business.

To this extent, I am well versed in letting you in on everything you need to know about working in an ice cream shop.

Everything You Need To Know About Working At An Ice Cream Shop - ice cream workers

What Are Ice Cream Workers Called?

As a general rule of thumb ice cream workers are often called the following:

  • ice cream scoopers“;
  • ice cream workers”;
  • ice cream team members“;
  • ice cream makers”; or
  • ice cream servers“.

What Does an Ice Cream Worker Do?

An ice cream worker’s main job will be to serve ice cream. If your ice cream shop also makes ice cream in-house, then ice cream workers can be trained to serve and make ice cream or be split between “ice cream servers” and “ice cream makers”.

The Main Jobs of an Ice Cream Worker

The main job of an ice cream worker will likely focus on serving. This will involve:

Main jobs of an ice cream worker
Welcoming customers;
Explaining the ice cream concept and flavors to customers if they haven’t been before;
Offering customers samples;
Scooping ice cream for customers and adding toppings if requested;
Taking customers’ payments for their ice cream and operating the point of sale;
Operating any online loyalty system; and
Issuing and redeeming gift cards for customers.

Online Orders

Online orders from platforms such as Doordash, UberEATS, etc. in today’s market will form a large part of any successful ice cream shop operation. As part of this, ice cream servers will also be expected to manage and make online orders from these platforms as well as serve walk-in customers. During particularly busy periods there may be a dedicated ice cream server to focus just on accepting, preparing online orders, and handing them over to delivery drivers.

At my ice cream store, I try and operate with one person serving ice cream at a time. This person will be responsible for managing walk-in orders and all online orders during their shift.  

What Ice Cream Servers Do In Between Serving Customers

In between serving customers ice cream workers will often have to do the following:

What Ice Cream Servers Do In Between Serving Customers
Make sure the toppings counter is topped up, including chopping fresh fruit and refilling sauces into squeeze bottles;
Depending on the ice cream shop, they may need to make ice cream in the back during quieter shifts;
Wiping surfaces;
Answering any phone calls;
Sweeping the floor; and
Topping up the ice cream counter.

Set-Up and Closing

Ice cream workers will also be responsible for setting up and closing the store depending on if they are doing the opening or closing shift. Every team member at my ice cream shop is taught how to open and close the store. Whoever is first in on any day is responsible for setting up the store ready to be opened – even if their shift is focused on ice cream making prior to opening.

Opening An Ice Cream Shop

Opening an ice cream shop will often involve the following:

Opening An Ice Cream Shop
Turning on the lights;
Putting any tables and chairs out (if the ice cream shop has outside seating);
Putting any toppings out for the day, including chopping any fresh toppings such as fruit toppings;
Setting up the sanitizer sink;
Wiping down all the surfaces;
Putting trash bags in the trash bins; and
Put the scoopers in the ice cream serving cabinet.

Closing An Ice Cream Shop

Closing an ice cream shop will usually consist of:

Closing An Ice Cream Shop
Washing up the ice cream scoopers;
Putting toppings away;
Wiping down surfaces;
Taking the trash out;
Bring any tables and chairs outside in;
Sweeping and mopping the floor; and
Locking up for the night.

Other Shifts

Ice cream workers may also be asked to do shifts outside of the ice cream shop’s opening hours where they just focus on making the ice cream in the kitchen.

Typically, in the busier summer months, we look to add an additional five shifts of 5-6 hours dedicated to making ice cream. These will be prior to opening or during service while someone else focuses on serving.

What Skills Do You Need to Work at An Ice Cream Shop?

In my time owning an ice cream shop I have interviewed dozens of potential ice cream shop team members. So, what are the most important skills you need to work at an ice cream shop?

As a general rule, the single most important skill needed to work at an ice cream shop is good customer service skills. Great interpersonal skills are a must-have for an ice cream worker. As an ice cream worker, you will serve a lot of customers during one shift. During this time, it is your responsibility to provide an amazing customer experience and be able to wow customers (it is not just about serving great-tasting ice cream).

Customer Skills

Teaching people how to set up, close, scoop, use a POS, etc. are all things that anyone can be taught. In my experience, it is far harder to teach someone to be warm, friendly, chatty, and able to deal with various customer situations. Why? Because changing someone’s personality is much harder to do. Someone may be great at following instructions, but just naturally quiet and not like customer interactions. The only opportunity you have prior to hiring someone to see what their personality is like is by interviewing them.

In our ice cream shop, we have the words “make someone’s day better“. It is plastered everywhere to remind our staff that this is the most important part of their job. Making great tasting ice cream is just a part of being a successful ice cream store. You are not just selling something for people to eat, you are selling them an experience. You want this experience to be as amazing as possible.


It can be difficult to judge if somebody has the required interpersonal skills from their resume. That is why meeting potential team members in person is crucial to hiring the right people. I can tell within a couple of minutes if somebody has the right interpersonal skills for the job. You can just tell by chatting with them. Do they lead the conversation, are they easy to talk to, and do you have to coax answers out of them?

I do not recommend facetime or skype interviews – you need to meet candidates in person to sense if they will be great with customers or not.  If you do use video calls, then use them as a pre-screener for an in-person interview.

If you do not enjoy interacting with people, then an ice cream job is probably not for you.

Do I Need Prior Food Serving Experience to Work in An Ice Cream Store?

When I hire for my ice cream shop it isn’t important that candidates have previous food experience. The practical side of working in an ice cream shop can be picked up quickly if they are a fast learner. What is more important is a feeling I get during the interview as to whether they would be good with customers or not. Whether customers would warm to them?

Whilst you won’t need previous food experience, having a knowledge of different styles and types of ice cream can be a bonus. If you want to learn more about the different types of frozen desserts I shared everything you need to know in my post: What Are The Different Types of Frozen Desserts?.

An Ice Cream Worker Needs to Take Initiative

As a general rule, it is also important that ice cream shop workers are able to use initiative and problem solve on their feet. Issues will arrive – there will be difficult customers, online orders will go wrong on the way to the customer, and an ice cream flavor will run out mid-way during a busy shift. When these minor issues occur an ice cream shop worker needs to be able to think on their feet, use their initiative, and resolve the issue.

Is Working at An Ice Cream Shop Hard?

As a general rule, working a busy shift in an ice cream shop (e.g., a Saturday night shift in the Summer) can be hard. It can be hard to manage the line out the door at the same time as online orders pinging through. All the while making sure the toppings and ice cream cabinet are topped up. I have worked shifts where I came out frazzled after a chaotic Saturday evening. The key is practice and preparation for the busier periods.

However, despite the challenges of a busy shift, working in an ice cream shop can also be very rewarding – you get to interact with lots of people, you will get tipped well on a busy shift and a busy shift will fly by time-wise. It also will teach you how to multitask more effectively, communicate with groups of people, and increase your confidence.

Working Quieter Shifts

Working a quieter shift in an ice cream shop does not tend to be hard. These quieter shifts tend to be afternoon shifts during the week and especially during the cold and wet weather. During these shifts, there will be fewer customers to serve so there do not tend to be long lines to deal with. Time can feel like it is going slower because there is less to do. It is during these periods that ice cream workers should be made to focus on the back of house tasks such as making ice cream or deep cleaning parts of the shop.

Is Working at An Ice Cream Shop Fun?

On average working at an ice cream shop can be very fun. It involves working in an upbeat, happy environment. People associate ice cream shops as happy fun places – as an ice cream shop worker you get to put smiles on many people’s faces. Working at an ice cream shop also involves meeting and interacting with lots of people. There is often music playing in ice cream shops, which can add to the fun environment.

Everything You Need To Know About Working At An Ice Cream Shop - tips

Do Ice Cream Workers Get Tips?

As a general rule, ice cream workers get tips. Not every customer in an ice cream shop tips but many do.

As a whole, ice cream workers can add as much as 50% extra to their net paycheck with tips. So, for example, if an ice cream worker’s net pay would have been $500 without tips, tips can bring their net pay up to as much as $750.

This is what I have seen when running payroll in my ice cream shop. Not all team members increase their net pay by 50% – only the best who are able to manage busy shifts effectively can see tips like these. When setting our staff schedule, I have always seen a resilience to accepting weekend evening shifts as that is when team members want to socialize. Remember though – these are the high tips shifts.

What Should I Wear To An Ice Cream Shop Interview?

As a general rule, wear smart, clean, and practical clothes to an ice cream shop interview. This will give the impression that you are clean and tidy and so will keep the ice cream shop clean and tidy but that you are still willing to “get your hands” dirty and “roll up your sleeves” in the shop.

Make sure you wear flat non-slip shoes to an ice cream shop interview – as this is what you will have to wear during a shift. Also, jewelry with stones and nail varnish is not allowed in a food prep environment due to food safety rules (you don’t want a stone from a piece of jewelry or pieces of nail varnish in your ice cream).

This means it is a good idea not to wear nail varnish, nail extensions, or lots of elaborate jewelry to an ice cream shop interview (the interviewer may have concerns that they will constantly be having to ask you to remove jewelry or take nail polish off otherwise).

Finally, ice cream shop workers always must have their hair tied up during a shift (as well as wear a hat) – to prevent hair from getting into ice cream. So, if you have long hair, it might be a good idea to wear it up to the interview (again it just gives the impression to the interviewer that they won’t have to be asking you to tie your hair up during a shift).

Why Do I Want to Work at An Ice Cream Shop?

The one question you will always be asked at an ice cream shop interview is: “why do you want to work at an ice cream shop? / Why do you want to work here?”. It is the inevitable question. So, why do you want to work at an ice cream shop?

As a general rule “for the money” isn’t the best response. I have had this response a few times over the years, and it never impresses me. First, it is a given that that is one of the main (if not the main) reasons for getting any job. Secondly, all jobs pay money – why specifically do you want to work at an ice cream shop and not in another kind of business?

A response that includes your love for interacting with people, meeting people, and well as putting a smile on as many people’s faces in a day would be a great answer.

Any answers that include a love of being in a fast-paced environment and thinking on your feet would also be a great response. And yes, saying that you love ice cream is also a good response – this enthusiasm for the product will be conveyed to customers and you will be around ice cream day long after all so you will need to love it!

Everything You Need To Know About Working At An Ice Cream Shop - the final lick

Everything You Need to Know About Working in An Ice Cream Shop – The Final Lick

Everything you need to know about working in an ice cream shop. What is there is know about working in an ice cream shop – well, for the most part as an ice cream server your responsibility will primarily be focused on serving customers and maintaining the shop daily. Depending on the type of ice cream shop you may also be trained and expected to make ice cream and manage online orders.

The most important skill for working as an ice cream server is customer service skills. Great-tasting ice cream is only part of a great ice cream shop. The ability to make customers feel special is vitally important. It is also how you get better tips – just remember that.

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Time To Learn Some More

Want to learn more on your path to ice cream entrepreneur success. Then check out some of my other articles.

Chilled Startup Team

Since 2012, the Chilled Startup team has been in the ice cream business. From creating retail store ice cream concepts from scratch to ice cream trucks to selling ice cream pints wholesale to grocery store outlets to private and public events. We have even set up vegan and plant-based ice cream concepts. The ice cream business is one we understand inside and out.

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