Saturday, June 11, 2011

Expanding Your Business

Q: I am in the process of a potential square footage expansion of my retail store....yikes. Have put it off as long as possible, and we just flat out need the space, to work, to merchandise, to pee in private, to eat lunch without a mitre saw running next to us...well, you get the picture.

Did your sales really kick in shortly after advertising and completing your move to a bigger location? I am staying where I am, just doubling from 1400 to 2800 sq. ft.

A: So you are expanding? Well congratulations. This is a huge step. If the desire to do this has been on your mind, then business must be good.

Unfortunately, now is probably not the best time to ask my advice as I am in a funk. Sales feel slow, my space seems too big for me, I drive past little shop vacancies and start to daydream... I am second guessing I ever expanded and well, there you have it. I am being truthful although it pains my staff when I tell anyone so. So shoot me, I am human. But, I will pull through, I always do and lots of lessons have been learned. My mood and business and sales can turn on a dime. It only takes one customer to make my day- or yours, remember that.

I didn't do any advertising with our move to the new location two years ago, except to our current customer base to simply to tell them I was relocating. The day before we were open to the public we had a private party for VIP customers and hired help, landlords, etc. There was already quite the buzz going on about our new store so that is always good. But yes, sales were through the roof the first year as everyone loves something fresh. I could only hope to do those numbers again. It's a drag to see sales fall after you are not the new kid on the block anymore. That and the world/retail/economy situation is adding it's toll as well. I feel like I am reinventing myself everyday. You want the numbers to reflect you are doing something right but sometimes they do not. So you try something else and maybe it works and maybe it doesn't. Your staff starts to think you're not focused because you keep trying all these things to bring money in- like buying something unique or expensive or real cheap or simple or trendy. I can't seem to please anyone especially me. When I do and buy what I really want a customer comes in that remembers something from last year (that didn't sell) and is disappointed we no longer carry it. How do you explain all of this to her? You don't. It's one big experiment.

If you are fairly certain the current sales you have can support both spaces, hurray for you. I would say since this isn't a full-on relocate that you might expect a 20% increase but then I do not know if you are adding more retail or some other kind of money drawing idea. 100% more space may not bring in 100% more money. Unless there is a significant 'wow' factor to the new space, people start to talk, it's easier to shop and you can offer better service. I do not know anything about your type of business so it's hard to offer advice. If the expansion is just for storage or a kitchen, etc. stay on the low side for your projections. If you are adding a lot more showroom space (cash in), expect higher. Also, check out the blog entry below about inventory levels.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Shop Owner Blog

Welcome future shop owners!

I have been asked many times by young women for advice on how to open a small store. Some of you have learned the business books out there are not quite right for your type of venture. They talk of a much bigger picture than many of you are looking for. The majority of these publications have been written with so much expert advice, they forget to talk to women in words they can understand. I feel you want to know the real nuts and bolts of daily operations, or how to take the very first steps from money to leasing to buying the right products. I think the 'retail rules' can be simplified in an easy to understand formula with helpful information to make you aware and prepared for what you might be getting into.

I will start here with this blog by telling you the steps I went through from the first time I showed any talent for retail until now. With over seven years under my belt, I am still new at this, but that is good, as the trials and errors are still fresh in my mind. Maybe your idea for a store is smaller, maybe bigger. But I would guess most of you are coming from a place with a heart for stuff, a talent for design and a desire to do it yourselves. You may think this is all it takes, but I will show you, it is so much more.