What to consider when taking on a new store.

There are no guarantees when it comes to taking on a new store – even the convenience channel’s most successful retailers have had failures with new outlets.

However, the expert retailers who make up Partners for Growth Retailer Advisory Panel say that focusing on some key factors when considering adding a new store to your fledgling retail ‘empire’, can really improve your chances of making it a success.

“The prospect of opening a new store can be really exciting” comments panel member Ramesh Shingadia “however it is a huge task to undertake.   All the research in the world won’t guarantee the store will be a success – numerous things can go wrong which is why careful planning and attention to detail is essential if it’s going to stand a chance of working.”

The panel members, all of whom are successful retailers who have committed to sharing ideas to benefit their fellow retailers, offer these top tips to avoid potential pitfalls:

1. Do your planning
Consider what you want to achieve from the new store and build a business plan as well as a project plan.  Ensure these plans include key activities, dates, costs and additional resources required. Keep these plans updated and share them with all relevant parties, including current staff members as they will be required for the store’s future success.

2. Research the store and the area
If it’s already a convenience store, look at its range, profitability, overheads, accounts etc with a fine-tooth comb. If it’s not, is it the right location for one? If you’re not already operating in the area, do your homework. What are the demographics? What’s the competition? Remember to look at this from the customer’s perspective and include fast food outlets, bakeries etc, if you are thinking of providing ‘food for now’.

3. Keep a balance between your creative vision for the new store and the risk factors
What could go wrong? What might the consequences be for your existing business if the new one fails? If the prospect is exciting but there’s something niggling in the background, work out what that is; it could be crucial.

4. Think carefully about the new store’s USP
This takes time but will pay off. Understand the type of customer you are trying to attract (age, affluence, life stage) and what is important for them. Don’t forget to ask, rather than assume. You may be able to replicate success from your current store but remember, what works well in one location will not automatically work in another – research is key!

5. Provide strong management
You won’t be able to be in two places at once so having experienced and trustworthy managers, either for your current store or the new one, is vital. You will need to communicate your business plans for the store with key measures and targets that are reviewed regularly.

Sharing your vision and performance with the staff members will build a commitment to success.

6. Schedule regular and targeted meetings
These are necessary to keep the project on track. Follow up on ‘action points’ in between times.

7. Have passion and time to dedicate to the project and be hands-on
Ultimately, unless you’re prepared to invest yourself fully into the new venture, there’s no point in starting. Being hands-on is vital to ensure its success.

8. Work closely with your Symbol group
If you are part of a symbol group or looking to make the new store part of one, work closely with them and see what advantages they can bring – whether it be clout with the fitters or financial support or advice.  But remember, the success of the store will depend on you, your hard work, dedication and ultimately your vision.

Retailer Advisory Panel member Kishor Patel comments “If you get it right, it could mean much bigger profits; if you get it wrong, there will be serious repercussions – both to your confidence and to your business.  Go into it with a clear head and keep focused!”

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