Part 1 of a 3 part series on lessons learned opening a brick and mortar shop.
One of the reasons behind me wanting to open a shop was to get out of the elements and stay warm during the winter and out of the sun in summer.
I already had my eyes set on a garage that was located on one of the busiest roads in Pittsburgh – just 10 minutes from the International Airport. It finally opened up for rent on a short-term lease and after talking to the landlord, he informed me that it was up for a 1-year or 2-year lease. The rent was surprisingly low – maybe half or less than half of the market value of something else in that area so I couldn’t help but take it. I basically wasn’t risking much with this shop.
After signing the lease and hanging up our signs, I naively believed that along with our online presence, we would instantly get walk-ins as well. Unfortunately, it was a bigger struggle than I could have imagined. With my mobile business, I serviced an area of about 30 air miles around my home but after the shop opened, that area shrunk significantly. A big reason behind that is Google offers a location rather than a service area.
Even with the walk-ins, we noticed that people were coming in for one of two reasons; because they didn’t know what we do or they found out that body shops are way too expensive. The first year after we opened the shop, went through a lot of expenses because of the renovations and other things. Nevertheless, I made it to two years on the lease and didn’t get year three because the road construction project came up.
Now that all the negatives are over, we can move forward with the good stuff about opening a brick and mortar shop in Part 2 and Part 3.
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