Home – New Forums Tell me straight… 7 months into it

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  • #975687
    ad2405
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    Hi all,
    It has been 7 months since I took over ownership of my Auto Parts store. I though I should update my fellow solo flyers and also get any feedback negative and positive.

    Some of you would have seen some of my previous posts over the past 6 months and know the problems I have gone through. It has been tough as you would expect and some things are easier and some not so easier.

    Some of the things I have done with the business.
    – Created new logo and colour scheme, painted the shopfront, purchased new delivery vehicle in same colour scheme and sign written up.
    – Replaced store counter with a nice glass display cabinet.
    – Added some extra services & product lines – Key Cutting, Cold Drinks and Model Cars.
    – Started to clean up the inside of the shop, and clean up the computer system.
    – Started a bi-monthly trade newsletter
    – Advertise fortnightly in the local newspaper
    – Started to review prices on all products
    – Started Ebay Store

    Some problems I have during the 6-7 months.
    – Broke my right hand in the 2nd months of ownership (im right handed)
    – Problems with an ex-employee start rival shop in surrounding area (see old post for extensive information about this)
    – Lack of Trade support (Local workshops)
    – Trying to overcome the shops apparent bad image.

    Something have got easier, in the first 3 months (1st BAS i had to do) i really struggled with understanding the computer system and how BAS worked etc etc. But then the next 3 months were very simple to do. So i seem to be on top of that.

    Cashflow has been pretty good, Ebay has helped there because it is instant payment. But because the trade has been bad there really havent been a lot of accounts racking up credit anyway.

    Sales. A breakdown of sales when I purchased the shop was about 65%-70% retail and 25%-30% trade. For the month of October it was about 80% retail, 10% trade and 10% Ebay.

    Staff. When I took over I had myself working 5 1/2 days (Monday-Saturday), a salesperson (previous owner) working 5 days (Thursday-Monday) and 1 delivery driver working 3 days a week. When I broke my hand I put another delivery driver on so that I had a driver on each weekday… Then in mid October my salesperson left so now I am without a Salesperson. The shop has been open 7 days a week and he was the weekend guy and had 2 days off in the middle of the week. So now I’m it. Iam thinking I will have to close Sunday’s for time being because I don’t want to work 7 days a week, I will burn out too quickly. And I can not afford the wages to pay someone for a Sunday or a Saturday for that matter. I have advertised on SEEK and got some resumes but none are exactally what I want. And sales have not been great enough lately for me to justify hiring someone. The argument could be made that for me to move forward I need staff so that it allows me to work on the business and I do agree with that. But at the moment it is just not busy enough.

    Summery. The July, August, September periods were awesome! I exceded the sales from the previous year under the old ownership. But trade has declined quite dramatically. I have spoken to my biggest customer who’s sales have dropped by over half over the past month and I ask what I can do to get more work out of him and he says that he is happy with the job I am doing… thats the response I seem to get from all my trade customers. But I don’t believe them, I feel like I am not getting the support. Its frustrating because I do not know what else to do. I give good service, the correct parts, delivery on demand, my prices are well and truly competitive, supply is no problem. I do not know what else I can do. I have implemented all the ideas I have when I took over the shop and new ideas too. On a bright note Retail is great! and The Ebays sales are growing all the time.

    Thank for your time reading this and I look forward to your comments.

    #1075888
    Applied Marketing
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    All businesses have callenges and its good to see that you are working through them. The ebay idea was good. Perhaps you could contact some car clubs and orginse a swap meeting or rally and sponser it. You need to create loyal groups of customers.

    #1075889
    ad2405
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    Yeah thats what I want to do – create a loyal customer base. But I have this thing in my mind that tells me “you paid $XX,XXX for the business plus stock and it included the current customer base” and I cant shake that though off.

    #1075890
    dextereugenio
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    hey dude

    i kinda know what youre going through, i did the same thing, but with a PC shop.

    thankfully i didn’t have as many bad things happen as you (possibly worse read: GFC, but im thankful it happened). though i had a ball doing it and im all the better where im at now (still a small biz owner)

    i did a bit of reading on the posts youve put up and a lot of it is “as expected” with small business ownership, a lot of which i have gone through personally.

    i think you should focus on your retail / online channel and totally dominate!! the previous owners sounds like a tool (pardon the pun) of sorts, and i wouldnt be surprised if the drop in trade may be a result of him talking and opening up down the street.

    so, get your website up to scratch (it does need some work), tart up your social media stuff, in particular your facebook page by reading my blog post here and possibly user vendorshop for facebook as online store.

    a couple of things you could do is bring in some new products. perhaps extend out a particular range (different brands for an existing product) or introduce totally new products.

    maybe take a look at your sales and find out which types of products you sell the most of (oils, tools, car audio, whatever, etc) focus on them, and bring in a more brands to extend your range of that type of product.

    another option could be to go niche and supply products that your avg autobarn, supercheap, etc wouldnt supply. some things that come into mind are race oils (redline) or fuel (elf) or even car type specific (4wds, race cars, blah).

    im into cars and i know that online communities are tight (rexnet, sau, ns.com, etc) so think about sponsorship to events or even forum sponsorship. i know a bunch of people that bring in specific parts for specific cars and they sell them through their online store. they do quite well out of it also.

    without blabbing on too much about it, i wouldnt recommend going head to head against the previous owner, make your own market and totally rip it. then you can get the trade stuff back when youre dominating!

    #1075891
    ad2405
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    well today the guy (mention before) called me to question why i had been calling up trade customers asking why they are not buying off me as much as before and then i was accused of bagging him which i never ever did. Im sick of the pettiness! Today i want to sell the shop and just go back to living as an employee and working for someone else. IS ALL I WANT TO DO IS RUN AND DEVELOP MY BUSINESS, i dont want this stuff hanging over my head.

    Im sorry but i needed to vent, im very flustered atm.

    #1075892
    Anonymous
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    Hi ad2405,

    Hope things are feeling a bit better today.

    From what you’ve told us, you do have some good stuff going on in your business, and are getting some good results. I’ll be interested in what everyone else thinks, but my instinct is that it’s time to focus on running your own race and not let that other guy get to you any more. Just think of him as a pesky distraction… (easier said than done, I know).

    Keep your chin up!
    Jayne

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