Essential tips in Opening a Store. In my history of this amazing thing called doing business I have had the oppurtunity to indulge in the challenge of opening multiple storefronts for our operations. I did this for various business types from Snowboarding and Skateboarding Stores, A Printing Business, A Night Club and Restaurants. Through this journey into the frontier of direct to consumer relationships I have come up with a few different tips for successfully opening your first or one of your many store front locations.
There are some really key factors to focus on to ensure you have a successful store opening and operations with no issues.
Landlords: If you are business not planning on purchasing the land you operate on then the most likely odds are you will be working under the restrictions of your landlord. Ensure there is a full and clear communication amongst yourself and the landlord. The last thing you need to be dealing with are surprise charges, miscommunication about rent and unknowingly crossing the line of your landlords restrictions. You will find that often times your landlord has their own views on how you run your business, so make sure that you keep it clear that this is your business and that your landlord is nothing to do with it other than collecting the rent. Be clear on understanding their needs and make it clear the separation of powers up front. This will save you a huge headache when operating.
Location: Location is huge.. You want to ensure that the space you are renting is going to be sufficient for the growth of your business and that the location is going to be the most viable for your walk in traffic and visibility. Always remember that visibility is a marketing king and you can benefit greatly based off where your business is located and the signage you utilize. This is especially important for businesses with a strong online presence, whereas in the right location your website/signage could be seen by thousands of people. Also remember that your signage and front of store appearance is your chance at making a good “first impression” So plan wisely.
Lease terms: Lock down a lease, but pre meditate your specific needs before heading in to negotiate with your landlord. Additionally remember that the longer you can lock down your lease term the better off you will be for setting in place a steady set of fixed expenses that you can plan for. Often times landlords will increase the rent on you at the end of your lease agreement, especially if they see that you are successful and in their mind its because of the location even if your success is coming through other sales channels like your website.
Employees: Chances are that you are going to need employees to help you operate your new storefront. Even if you intend to be the primary operator you will want to have some additional help to maintain the business during regular business hours in the event of you running errands, making deliveries or out working on sales. Missing out on walk in sales because you are “gone for five minutes” is a total sale killer. Make sure that your employees are people who share an equal vision and equal passion for the business and at least have the customer service mindset to handle sales while you are away. Training your employees for your formula of customer service and sales is essential and will go a long way.
Products: Make sure that your products are a reasonable and viable product for your market place. For example don’t open a high price retail business in a low income, poverty stricken area. If its the brands you desire then ask your reps about “off-price” or overstock units that can be offered at a reasonable price for your market and allow you to still turn a profit. Most brands offer this type of product due to overproduction, returns or buy backs from companies who don’t pay their bills.
External Sales Channels: Try not to rely solely on walk in traffic. The internet has opened an entirely new marketplace for you to distribute your products. So try and utilize this powerful external channel by launching an online store with your merchandise that you are selling direct to consumer. By missing out on this marketplace you are setting yourself up for a tough run. You can utilize tools like Quickbooks POS and an application called THub to sync your webstore and physical store front inventory.
Enjoy the Ride: Nothing lasts forever; so make the most of your business while its available. Do things like throw grand opening parties, throw special events that you attend and really enjoy what you are doing because business is hard and if you get too caught up in your day to day operations you could miss the point. A few years could pass by and leave you thinking, man I wish I would have just taken the time to enjoy that a little more.
Follow these tips and your odds of finding success in Your New Store will increase. If you ever need any tips or further guidance feel free to contact me. I am open to share all of my experiences and further information to help you be successful.