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  Thailand Articles

15 Feb 2008 20:31:10 GMT

So You Want to Buy A Retail Business

If you’re thinking about buying a retail business, there is a lot that you must consider outside of the basic nuts and bolts of the business. There’s an old saying that retail success hinges on three factors: "location, location, location." It’s an old saying because, to a great extent, it’s true - but it’s not always the case. When looking at retail businesses, your #1 goal must be to determine what “drives” the customers to the store.


If the business relies on its location then you’ll want to be certain:

  • The lease in place is transferable/assignable and is long-term. You must negotiate additional options to give yourself at least six years of contract length.

  • Is there an anchor tenant that brings customers to the locale? If so, then you’ll want to know how long their lease is, and if they have any plans to relocate in the near-term.

  • Is there any planned road construction that can impact the business? Typically, major roads undergo some form of construction every ten years or so. Visit the city hall/planning office to see when the last work was done and what plans, if any, may be in place.

  • Above all, think about every possible situation that can impact the location and investigate it thoroughly.

Product Offering

If the operation is driven by its product offering you’ll want to be certain that you’re capable of continuing to identify the types of products that customers want. If this function is performed by an employee/buyer, you may want to have them own a stake in the business as well. However, if you’re not 100% comfortable with performing this function yourself, or are not the type that has an “eye” for product, you may not want to go down this road.


For some retail businesses, it’s the marketing that brings in the customers, and location takes a back seat. These are destination locations. Furniture and specialty retailers, art galleries, or gem or antique stores, are typical examples. They spend a fortune on advertising and promotion, and they get the people to the stores. Here again, if this is what drives the business then you’ll want to be certain that your greatest skill lies in this area.


Avoid Working 100 Hours Per Week!

One very important issue for anyone who wants to be a retail merchant is for them to get a true grasp of the actual workload that’s required in this environment. Retail hours can be very long, especially if you’re in a mall where you’re required to maintain certain hours. Far too many retailers seem to work seven days a week. It does not have to be this way, as long as you set up the business to run properly without you having to be there every minute.

Hire great people! Getting good employees is an ongoing challenge. You shouldn’t be afraid to churn through employees until you get the right ones. When you find them, pay them well. Train them effectively. Put policies and procedures in place that allow them to get up to speed quickly. Work toward having a key manager in place who can relieve you of some of the daily burdens. Never, ever, tolerate stealing. Hire a mystery shopping company to do an assessment at least once a year. It’s a great way to learn what the customers are experiencing.

Implement the most effective technology you can afford. There are tremendous systems available today for point-of-sale tracking, inventory management, accounting modules, etc. Systematize everything so that you’re not forced to be there every minute.


Growing The Business

If your agenda is to make a lot of money, then it’s hard to do so with one location. Growth usually requires expansion. Many times, however, one successful location does not translate well into a second successful one. This usually happens because the owners cannot duplicate the business effectively. That’s why systems are crucial. It’s also why you need to have a crystal-clear view of what brings in the customers and then be able to duplicate it effectively.

The other reason this happens is that the owner is the business and then ends up trying to be effective in two locations. Guess what? It doesn’t work! Build the first one. Get the formula in place that includes a top-notch manager. Then you can decide to either run the second one yourself or to relocate the manager from the existing location.

If you’re running a large-sized operation, you may want to consider opening a second one that may be a bit smaller, with an option to expand. This doesn’t always work, but should be considered.

Certainly when thinking about buying a retail operation, and growth is your objective, you have to decide if it’s even a possibility, or if the business is too specialized. If you buy a scuba shop on the beach in a popular tourist area, you probably cannot open a second location in a remote area and expect similar results. The business itself may be restrictive from a growth perspective.


What’s A Retail Business Worth?

Just like any other business resale, there are no “golden rules” to establishing the value of a retail business. The main issue has to be how much the business is making. This is the key component that must dictate the purchase price. Inventory is one element that clouds many retail business purchases. You need the inventory to drive revenue. It may or may not be treated separately in the price.

Notwithstanding this, the combination of the profit and inventory acquisition cannot over-inflate the price to the point where it’s not a feasible investment.

When it comes to inventory, your investigation must conclude if the product is saleable, and in what time frame. Specialty retailers usually have a ton of obsolete or slower-selling product. If there’s old inventory it must be discounted heavily in the valuation.


What To Do Next?

Lots of people have made lots of money operating retail businesses. If you’re cut out for it, you can also be successful. But, you’ll want to weigh all of the factors to be certain that this type of business fits both your strengths and the lifestyle you want.

In and around Pattaya there are always an abundance of retail businesses, especially so-called “mini-marts”, listed for sale. While many people think that it all comes down to location, the savvy retail business buyer knows there’s far more to consider in the equation.

For many, owning a business is a dream. For some, it will become reality. Your fate is in your hands. Whether you choose a start-up, franchise, or existing business, it can be done. It’s up to you. Currently, the market is in your favor and the time is right for you to finally put yourself in a position to be your own boss.


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