What is it about certain store locations that can never seem to produce a winner? Is it because rents are too high? Is the location slightly off Main Street, not visible to foot or car traffic? Is there lack of available parking? Did the previous owners not advertise enough (or effectively?) Or, is there indeed a curse?
While a curse can’t be proved (or unproved), here are some ways you can break a hitherto business location jinx.
Get Feedback From Previous Owners
As the saying goes, there’s no use in rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. You may have several ideas that you think will be guaranteed winners. But perhaps the previous owner already tried some of these ideas. If possible, track down the previous owner and ask what they did to try and promote the business. Did they push a monthly special in the local coupon insert or mailer? Ask the owner if you can see the ad. Maybe the design was less than spectacular or the offer wasn’t strong enough to get people through the door.
With enough insight from the previous owner, you may be able to come up with a tentative promotion plan. You can certainly try one or two things the previous owner did. Again, request from the previous owner any marketing collateral so you can assess what needs adjusting. Who knows? Maybe it’s a simple oversight … perhaps the owner forgot to place the street address on the coupon.
Canvas the Neighborhood
Sometimes when a new business owner comes into town, the owner doesn’t have deep roots in the community. This, of course, makes it more likely that the curse of a jinxed business location will not be lifted. If you’re taking over a business location that has seen several tenants over the last several years, but you’re committed to making the location a winner, make sure you get feedback from locals before you launch a grand opening.
For instance, let’s say you’re intent on opening a new coffee shop in town. You’ve got plenty of company as there are at least a few other independent roasters in town, not to mention the ubiquitous Starbucks or two.
It goes without saying that you should visit all the coffee shops and try to make yours fill a need that isn’t being met in town. Do all the coffee shops close early in the afternoon? Take an informal survey of residents in the town; ask people if they would frequent a coffee shop later in the day.
Also, are other coffee shops offering the latest cold nitro brew? Can you introduce any new flavors or offerings that no other competitor offers? Will people in the community visit your new shop because of it? Before you open, ask; don’t guess.
Visit local restaurants and bars to get resident feedback. You may also want to consult with the local chamber of commerce CEO or president to ask their opinion about why your store’s potential location has not been successful.
On second thought, maybe those coupon circulars aren’t a good idea. Maybe once your name is established it will be prudent to place a coupon, but for now, try to come up with really unique promotions. If the city law allows it, have an A-frame sign advertising a free cup of coffee. When new customers come in for their free cup, get them to enter their email address for future notification of special events (live music, for example). Collecting email addresses is a great way to build repeat business.
Hire a sign spinner, advertise on micro-local sites like Nextdoor.com and sign up for a profile yourself and post a message. Of course, you can always try other forms of social media advertising. Just make sure your ad is unique. Create a headline that says, “Not Going Out of Business Sale!”
If you have Generation Z kids, ask them for creative help in promoting your new store.
Invest in a Point of Sale (POS) System
Maybe one reason previous owners in the location you’re considering taking over have all failed is because they did not keep a close eye on sales reports and inventory. If you’re running low on, say, sandwiches, at your coffee shop, and your point of sale system doesn’t give you early warning, you’ll run out of sandwiches. Consequently, you’ll lose business to your competition. And the jinx will live on….
Prevent this from happening by investing in a best-in-class point of sale system.
A POS system can also tell you, for example, that 95% of your sandwiches are sold by 11 a.m. With this knowledge, you can make sure that you have enough inventory on hand for the morning rush.
Interested in learning more about POS systems?