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Gunung Tahan is a well known mountain in Malaysia translated into English as Endurance Mountain. Why do we use Gunung Tahan to metaphorically describe the decision making process of choosing a suitable soft serve ice cream machine?

Yes, because to find the right price and suitable commercial soft serve machine is like an uphill climb: without expert guidance, the trek will be rough or unfinished. Read further for top 5 challenges!

#1: Soft Serve Ice Cream Machines all look the SAME!

Don’t you find that, whatever the brand, the make or the origin, soft serve ice cream machines look identical from all over the world? This is not the case for Bingsu machines or other coffee machines!

Ren’s Soft Serve Machines in Single and Twin Flavour-Compact!

Even if you think you can try to differentiate by comparing features or specifications, you will be stumped by the similarities across most similar categories. For example, hopper size and compressor power will be almost similar amongst different brands.

#2. Price of one ice cream machine vary from RM3K to RM70K!

How can the machines look identical but differ so much in price? We have seen new machines being sold by others in different colours and models looking spanking shiny and new at a price that goes even lower than our cost price.

On the other hand, we also see branded Made in USA or Made in Italy soft serve machines in use at McDonald’s and Family Mart. These machines are the premium range costing up to RM 70K per machine.

Given the wide disparity in pricing, do we trust these RM3K machines to do the job? Surely, there must be lots of cash-tight restaurant owners out there. Then again, the RM70K machines appear in Malaysia for a reason. Logically speaking, if the cheapest machines work without a hitch, will anyone still spend 10 times the money to ensure reliability?

#3. Single Flavour or Twin Flavour? Do we seriously need a 2+1 machine?

More often than not, as cafe owners we assume that twin flavour soft ice creams have higher demand and feel pinched if we are to choose a cheaper single flavour machine over twin flavours.

Depending on your concept, in most cases spending the money on 2 units of single flavour soft serve ice cream machine will make better business sense than putting all the money in a twin flavour machine. After all, no matter how reliable the machine is, there will be down times for cleaning or servicing, and that is when the second single machine can come in handy to ensure continuous flow of business (or ice cream!).

#4. Is it worthwhile to rent a soft serve machine?

This is another difficult question. Most businesses favour cash flow over capital investments. In the case of a soft serve ice cream machine, the capex amount will be just about RM10-20K, considered a small sum for a lucrative segment with stable demand. The break even point should be recovered in about 6 months’ time if the ice cream flavours are well paired and priced to market range.

Even if the selling price of your soft serve are set in a very affordable range, fear not as it’s proven that offering soft serve ice creams can serve as a revenue driver for your other mains, by driving traffic to your restaurant or cafe.

So why bother renting, when you can own your own machine in a few months’ time and reap more profits thereafter? Pretty much a no-brainer actually.

#5. Why not save money and buy a second hand machine?

Perhaps if you can find a good deal from someone who’s selling his used Italian Carpigiani or US Taylor machines used for just 1-2 years, it will be worth the risk.

Otherwise, with so many second hand machines sold online and lack of a supplier to seek advise upon breakdowns or replacement of parts, will you be making the mountain more treacherous than necessary?

If you think what we say makes sense, then wait for our next post on our experiences in dealing with the above challenges. As sherpas in your trek to a value soft serve machine, we want to give a Malaysian perspective for a smooth trek ahead!

By the away, sugar tax kicks in tomorrow on 1st July. Is your cafe or restaurant ready for it? Read more on how to prepare for sugar tax in Malaysia.