I want to expand my business. But where do I begin?
May 20, 2010 5:43 PM   Subscribe

I own a retail store, and want to open a second location in another city/state. I need help from people, but I'm not even sure what people. Help!

Last November, I took ownership of an existing business -- a retail store in a neighboring state. It has an established name in the community, is known for great, friendly service, and is profitable. So far, this year looks to be about 20% more profitable than last year (slightly conservative estimate). One of the reasons I commute every week (I stay there 3-4 days and have an apartment there, then drive back up), and did not move to this neighboring state (even though the store is a 2.5-hour drive from my home), is because I ultimately had hoped to open a second location here in the city in which I live.

I think the time has come to start putting those wheels in motion, for a few reasons:

(a) The city in which I live has a population about three times higher than where the store is.

(b) My home city does NOT have any other independent resellers of the store's product line, despite being bigger -- while the city in which the store currently is located DOES have an independently-owned competitor, despite being a significantly smaller city. In both cities, there are corporate, company-owned and operated stores in the suburbs, though.

(c) A major marketing firm recently released a list of my store's primary product line's popularity and market penetration in cities around the USA. The city in which the current store is in ranks 20something. The city in which I live is in the top ten.

(d) The city in which I live has recently been declared one of the best (or is it the best? my memory fails me) markets in the country for retail growth.

(e) I'm getting antsy and don't want someone else to do this first.

I have a few ideas on how to get funding, and a potential interested partner, so that's not so much an issue. What befuddles me is . . . I'm not sure who I need to be talking to, consulting with, etc. For one thing, I've never engaged in the process of searching for retail space. I assume a real estate broker is the person to go to for helping identify retail patterns in various neighborhoods, etc.

I have an attorney from the process of purchasing this business last year, but because he's in the neighboring state, I'm not sure how much help he'd be here. Still, I need someone to help figure out the legal end of things. (The store is currently an LLC, and I've already registered as a "foreign LLC" in this state.)

I've never hired a staff from scratch; so far, at the current store, I've only hired one part-timer (I inherited the rest of the staff). I imagine I'll have my current store manager help me interview, etc., but I don't know much beyond that.

I guess I'm all over the place here. Basically what I'm asking is . . . what people do I need to be talking with; who should I line up on my side, etc.? Some sort of business "mentor," who's familiar with this process, would be great. Problem is, I've never been much of a "networker," due in no small part to my always having been a little shy and introverted.

Sorry for the lack of focus. I guess I'm just looking for insight on, uhh, what to do next. :-) Thanks in advance!

(And yes, I realize it's not terribly hard to get around the necessary ambiguity in my post if you do even some basic digging.)
posted by CommonSense to Work & Money (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Steal a page from the major retail stores if you can and staff the NEW store as much as possible with staff from the OLD store. The staff at the new store needs to know your product and your procedures down pat so they can give a good first impression to the new market. You may not be able (or willing) to force people to transfer to the new location, but perhaps some of them are interested in relocating anyway? Especially if there is a promotion involved (offer the Assistant Manager from the old store the Manager position at the new store, for example).
posted by Rock Steady at 6:02 PM on May 20, 2010

Rock Steady has a good point. An absentee owner (which you'll be part of the time, at least) needs a manager he/she can TRUST! Without that piece in place, don't even think about it!
posted by HuronBob at 6:18 PM on May 20, 2010

Call the SCORE organization and see if they can hook you up with retired business owners in that general category.
posted by sammyo at 8:28 PM on May 20, 2010

You might find some resources at the Small Business Administration.
posted by CathyG at 6:53 AM on May 21, 2010

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