This is part two of a two part series. If you missed the first article, it can be found here.
In part one of this two-part series on opening a retail store, we covered market research, choosing a location, permits, and insurance. In part two, we will take you right up to and a bit past the actual opening of the store to help you maximize sales and get your business off to a successful start.
Helping Hands – Running a store is a full-time job and then some. For most stores to be profitable, you must be open longer than eight to ten hours, and that’s just the time you spend working out front with customers — that’s not taking office work, stocking, sourcing, and cleaning into consideration. In most cases, it will be difficult to run a store without at least a couple of employees. Every employee you hire is an investment, and if they don’t work out, every hour you spent training them is time and money down the drain. With this in mind, it is absolutely essential to hire the best people possible.
While some turnover is unavoidable, hiring reliable people can help mitigate some of that risk. Have potential employees fill out an application and be sure to check their references. Conduct a thorough interview of your top prospects and keep the culture of your store in mind — are you going for a formal atmosphere, or more fun and casual? Some people are more suited for different work environments, so try to find the best personalities to help your store succeed.
Marketing – No one can come buy things if they don’t know where you are! The type of marketing you do may vary depending on your location. Print and radio can be expensive in cities, but in small towns you may be able to work a billboard or newspaper ad into your budget.
No matter where you live, the one thing you should not neglect is social media. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram offer connections with potential customers via affordable advertising that can be targeted to very specific demographics, including targeting a specific geographical area. Take the time to choose a couple of social media sites to maintain, and be active and engage with your followers daily.
Appearance – We’re always told to not judge a book by its cover, but it’s human nature — we’re going to judge by a store’s appearance. With that in mind, what will your store’s appearance tell passers-by? A hand-painted sign might work for a shabby-chic-style store, but in most cases it will instead lead customers to believe that the store is run-down and not well-kept. While it can be pricey, a good graphic designer and sign printer are invaluable for what they can add to the public’s perception of your business.
In that same vein, appearances are also important inside your store. It is important to keep everything clean and tidy, and try to change up displays every couple of weeks at minimum. Rotating stock helps keep the store appearing fresh to return shoppers, and changing which items are kept at eye-level can lead to shoppers spotting something they may have missed on earlier trips. Keep impulse-buy items near the register, products that aren’t too expensive but make good add-on sales to other items you sell in the store. These little sales can add up substantially over the course of a month!