Multiple Shops or Just One?

My advice? Stick to one.

You finally have your shop running well and profitable. The staff is happy and turning your inventory. The service department is doing a great job. You think to yourself, “Great! What to do now? I know! I’ll buy or open another shop!”

I’m here to tell you, don’t do it. Yes, there are many shops out there with more than one location. Some of them are doing well. Many are not. It’s a real struggle to have more than one. Trust me: I’ve tried it, and it cost me a lot of money.

You’ve got a shop that’s doing well. Your staff is working at 100%. You have all of the programs worked out. You know what sells and what doesn’t in your area. Surely you can take everything you have learned and transfer that knowledge to another location? Yes, it can work, but consider the following first.

Are you doing well at your current location? One would have to believe that success is because you’ve overseen every step of the progress along the way. It may be a bit of luck, but usually the harder you work, the luckier you seem to become.

Can you duplicate these steps at a new location? Perhaps, but think about how long it took you to get where you are. Five years? Ten years? Do you want to go through this process for another five or 10 years? You will probably have to make up monetary losses for the first while. Where will those resources come from?  

Also, where will you get the staff? Will you transfer some from your existing shop? The shop where you have everything running so well? That means you will have to hire more people; not only for the new shop but your existing shop as well. It’s hard to find great hires most of the time, and these days it seems to be even more difficult. Now you’re going to have hiccups in both businesses.

Your current business will suffer because of it, and where will you be? At the new place? If it’s the same line or lines as you have, that may help. If it’s new lines, you will have to learn all of their processes and quirks — and there will be quirks. If it’s in a town that is close, is it even worth it, especially if the lines are the same? If it’s a far distance, how on earth are you going to keep track of both? How are you going to manage the numbers in an efficient manner? You will be dividing your focus, which is never a great idea.

You might be thinking, “What if I take on a partner? He (or she) will watch over the business for me!” I tried that. The partner did not work out well, and as I said, it cost me a lot of money. I should have watched over the new place better, but I was pretty busy with my existing business. Looking back, I could have done things different. Maybe you have someone to trust (I thought I did).

The bottom line is this: Instead of opening another shop, why not make your existing shop the best one it can be? Capture more of the business in your area. Work smarter. Look at your numbers. Where are you winning? Where are you losing? What about increasing your profits by 1%, 2% or 3% at the shop you already have? Wouldn’t that be a great thing? Don’t spread yourself too thin. There lies madness.

A properly running business means enjoying yourself more. Get out and ride. Take time off. Go away. Go to AIMExpo. See EICMA. Hell, just go to Italy and wander around. Take the family. Those are the kinds of things we should be working for.

If you have multiple shops, it’s going to be that much harder and burn up way more time. You more than likely will not double your income, if at all, but I guarantee you will quadruple your headaches. Think long and hard about it. I personally don’t believe it’s worth it.

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