With most businesses moving to e-commerce, the brick and mortar business plan is sometimes forgotten about when creating your own business. However, for items, you need that day or in a pinch to make a repair, brick and mortar stores are a priceless amenity. This is exactly why starting a hardware store is a great idea.
Hardware stores are the perfect place to get items needed to make weekend repairs, shop for tools, and find just about anything you need for in or around your house. While there is competition from big box stores such as Home Depot, Lowes, and Menards, the expertise and customer service you get from a small hardware store is unmatched.
Today, we are going to look at a few easy steps to help you better understand how to start a hardware store.
Do You Want to Open A Franchise Or Open Your Own Store
One of the first things that you will want to figure out when starting your own hardware store is whether you want to open your own store or open a franchise. This will rely on how much work you want to put into your store.
Opening Your Own Store
If you are wanting to open your own store, you are going to need to do more work on the front end to make a name for yourself. This will require coming up with a name, logo, brand standards, etc. You will also want to make sure you create all of the marketing material and have a game plan to get your name out there.
Opening A Franchise
For those who want to take the easier route, opening a franchise will be easier, but may cost more upfront. Most hardware store franchises will have a specific cost associated with opening one of their stores. If you have the money to put down for this, it will be a quicker route to opening up your store. They should supply you with most of your marketing materials, brand standards, etc. Since the name is well known, you will not have to do too much on the marketing side when you open up.
Write A Business Plan
When starting any business, not just a hardware store, you will need a business plan. Think of this business plan as a road map to the success of your business. This plan will need to be thoroughly thought through and lined out perfectly for easy digestion. A business plan should be able to be read by potential investors or partners to get a better understanding of how your business will succeed.
You will want to include the following items in your business plan:
- Executive Summary
- Company Overview
- Market Analysis
- Business Organization Defined
- Description Of Your Products & Services
- Marketing And Sales Plans
- Financial Plan And Projections
Whether you are starting your own company or opening up a franchise, this is going to be a vital step in your process to make sure your company is on the road to success.
Invest In A Good POS System
A POS system, or point-of-sale system, is the register where your customers will be checking out at. The checkout process can make or break your business. If your customers are having to wait for too long to check out, they may not return or even finish the checkout process.
When it comes to Hardware Store POS systems, there are many different systems to choose from. While cost is going to be one of the biggest determining factors, convenience should be key. You do not want an overly complicated system as this will only cost you more time in training, setup, and checkout. Going with a POS system that is too out of date will only cause issues in the long run.
Invest In The Supplies You Need & Put Customer Service First
Now comes the hard part, investing in the items that you are going to be selling in your store. The items you are going to sell should directly reflect who your target market is, what your specific location needs are, and what you are able to make a profit on.
Know Your Customers
Knowing your community and their needs will make sure that you hit the ground running. After all, you wouldn’t want to sell a bunch of snow equipment in the heart of Texas. Understand what it is your customers will be looking for and stock these items in a fair amount. The biggest reason that people visit hardware stores is for convenience. These customers are needing a solution to their problems and they are hoping to find it at your store.
Be Competitive Where You Can
With competition being so heavy from big box stores, you are more than likely not going to be able to compete on price. This is where your customer service can win over customers every day. People do business with people, so make sure that the people that you hire are knowledgeable, friendly, and putting the customer first.
It only takes one trip to a big box store to see how little they focus on customer service. When it comes to home repairs and improvements, most people are going to have questions. Being there to answer the questions will have customers returning every time.
Open A Bank Account & Get The Business Permits & Insurance You Need
The next step is to get your finances and business legal documents in order. First, you will want to open a bank account for your hardware store. This will allow you to establish a line of credit, deposit money daily, and have the support of a bank for your financial needs. Do some research on local banks that work well with small businesses. You are going to want to find one that is ready to help you with any questions you may need.
Get Legal & Covered
Next, you will want to get the proper business permits and insurance you need for your area. This can usually be found online or you can call your local tax office to find out which permits you to need. On the insurance side, you may have to reach out to an online insurance provider for your business insurance needs.
All of these will ensure that you are running your company legally and protected. According to Wisesmallbusiness, business insurance can be the difference between a small setback and a total loss. Take your time here and ask any questions that you may have.
Figure Out How You Need To Adapt Your Marketing, Inventory, & Staffing
At this point, you should be able to open your store and start learning how your business will be running. It is important to pay close attention to what is and what isn’t working. Learning how to adapt your marketing, inventory, and staffing to customer buying habits will make sure that your business stays running successfully.
You will also want to look for trends such as seasonality. Some items will need to be stocked more in certain months and some items may see a reduced quantity on hand during some months.
Follow The Data & Listen To Your Customers
Lastly, you will want to continue to look at the data and listen for customer feedback on how to improve your hardware store. By constantly adjusting your marketing and inventory to best suit the needs of your customers, you will make the customer experience more fluid. Customer experience and convenience are some of the biggest factors in running a business and if you are not keeping these at the forefront of your marketing, you could be losing out on bigger profits.
Keep People Happy
Take some time to talk with a few customers to see how you can better improve your business. Speaking with your employees is a great way to keep communication high and make sure they like what it going on as well. It is very easy for an unhappy employee to make for an unpleasant customer experience. Keep your ear to the ground and always look for ways to make things better and you will see long term success.