Volume 8, Issue 5, September-October 2004
The first column I wrote was about how I got started in the window tinting business: a box of tint, a car, and some sales ability. The second was about what it took to start my first shop. This column is going to be how I went from one store to two.
It took almost as much courage to open my second store as it took to open my first store. Part of me was worried that with a second store, I would lose some control over my first and it would go all downhill from there.
It took seven months to find a location for my first store. It took just as long to find my second store.
I ended up buying my second store from a not-so-distant competitor. I found out his store was for sale when I went to a popular web site for tinting professionals. I put out a bulletin saying I was in the market for a second store and if anyone had any notions of selling, I was in the market for buying. I had weighed the options of buying versus just starting up again. This time I decided to buy.
The shop was 45 miles away from my first. I figured that was a decent distance and that I could set up a new home right in the middle. Also, I remembered having talked with the owner of a chain of nine truck accessory stores who told me that the magic number 30—as in a 30-mile radius. Each store needed to be at least 30 miles from each other or business would over-lap. He had two stores only 25 miles from each other and they competed for a lot of the same business. For me, then, 45 miles was good enough.
Another advantage of buying this second shop was that it was already established; having been in business for 20 months. My first store was going on 18 months in business. I looked at the financials of both businesses. the second store was doing exactly two-thirds of what my first store was doing. I attributed this difference to the owner’s frequent absences from the daily management and to having an inferior marketing plan. I had an ace up my sleeve: my wife. she was a store manager. More specifically, she was managing the first store and me. She could continue doing the same but I could go and run my own store. Many a successful entrepreneur has said that the key is in duplicating your efforts. Well I had done that with my wife (or maybe she with me) and it was time to prove that duplication.
Trials and Tribulations
Setting foot in my second shop was not an easy task. First, one employee quit right away. Second, I found that the predatory pricing techniques of the former owner didn’t lend itself to better business, but a worse type of clientele. Third, the quality of work performed had been so sub-standard that I found myself doing more warranties than I had negotiated and ran out of the type of film used previously.
there were some positive aspects: it was in a better location than my first store, the remaining employee was more than worth his compensation, and the community was a marine-activity community, providing an additional marketing avenue for marine tinting.
It has been three months since I bought the store and the clientele is turning around. I raised my prices significantly and, consequently, have a better type of car coming in. This has translated into the store going from doing 66 percent of my first store’s business to doing 80 percent. The real gem was the employee who didn’t quit and whom I have since been promoted to store manager. Could I have found him so quickly with a start-up?
The Future Looks Bright
The business world says that it is easier to duplicate your efforts after the first time, that the second store is easier than the first, that the third is easier that the second, and so on. I hope so. I am already thinking about my third store. Barring polygamy (having a second wife to do daily management), I am going to have to rely on my current and future store managers to do quality and honest work. And that, my friends, is the real secret of duplication.
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