The True Story of Breaking into the Retail Market
In a world where trends are picked up and forgotten on a weekly basis, keeping up with the retail market can be tough for any business owner, especially an aspiring entrepreneur.
Breaking into the market and then maintaining profitability requires more than just an innovative idea. Since the 1980s, the foundations of business, such as banks, investors, retail vendors, and the customers themselves, have been cautious to dish out support to new and innovative ideas. This presents a dilemma for retail entrepreneurs – how does one establish a successful business without losing their individualism?
The answer lies within franchising.
For the past 30 years, my career has been engulfed in franchising, and during my time I’ve experienced firsthand the struggles of wanting to try something new and innovative. Being a young New York City clothing designer and contractor as well as a restaurateur in the 1980s, I moved to Florida with the dream of developing myself as an automotive stereo retailer and installer. However, I soon met with reality as I struggled with getting loans from the banks, credibility with landlords, and even support from my colleagues. I was in a new state and too fresh, too young, and too inexperienced to get the support I needed. My teenage and young adult years were spent in business instead of universities, and no one wanted to support my idea to sell and install aftermarket stereos. Essentially, I had to start all over.
This is when I discovered franchising. At the time, my cousins had recently opened their very own automotive service and repair franchise. They told me a story similar to mine – they couldn’t legitimize their business concept to the investors, property managers and the banks that could actualize their ideas. Instead of struggling, waiting or giving up, they invested in something that was nationally known, with internal financing and the power to attract the vendors and customers who would support their growth. I followed suit, meeting the franchise development team of the same automotive service and repair company as my cousins. The moment I got financial approval to open my first franchise, my story changed.
The same bank and landlord I once had no chance of winning over suddenly took interest in me. I got the properly I wanted and the financing I needed to open my first franchise. My ideas didn’t change and neither did my innovation – the only thing that was different was the name standing above me. I received all the training I needed from the franchisor to be successful and when my doors opened, I had the freedom to build my customer base the way I wanted to. In the span of 15 years, I opened eight franchises and began expanding even more with property ownership. Eventually, I had enough capital to take my experience with franchising and do what I always wanted in regards to retailing – automotive customization.
What makes franchise retail appealing is it grants entrepreneurs access to the foundations of business – the backend support that makes operations tick – and frees up time for innovation, customer service, and staffing. In today’s world, if you’re not modifying your business at least once every two years, you won’t be able to keep up. If you’re too caught up with marketing, vendor management, and financing, you won’t be able to attract and retain a healthy customer base and workforce. A good franchisor will understand this and listen to your ideas on how to make the model better and give you the flexibility to try new retailing tactics.
Retailing also operates around consumer demand, and if you can’t strike a deal with the vendors holding the products customers want, you’ll struggle to survive. With franchising, you get the power of a corporate vendor management team who researches and negotiates deals to ensure your stores are always up-to-date with the latest trends, fads and want items. In retailing, these are what drive foot traffic and create lines that run out the door. A solo retailer is going to have trouble gaining access to the products that fuel success, let alone manage the buying power, marketing program, and customer service needed to maintain a positive reputable brand name.
Being successful at selling commodities takes marketing, endorsements, and negotiating power, and the difficulty of getting a retail establishment off the ground is getting the reputation required to be taken seriously. Without the support of a national brand, you’re going to struggle to get the financial backing necessary to even try, let alone maintain an evolving business. Even if you do break out on your own, you’ll be hard pressed to build profitability, and keep up with technology in the fast paced, ever-changing marketplace.
With franchising, you receive immediate backing that affords you the ability to be taken seriously as an established reputable business brand. You get access to a wealth of support and leverage, and if you choose the right franchise system, you’ll get the backing you need every step of the way to grow and maintain a profitable business. You even get to retain and implement your own creative thoughts on retailing.
My experience has taught me that being successful doesn’t have to get in the way of your creativity or individuality. If your dream is business independence and retail ownership, franchising can help you turn it into a reality.
Charles J. Bonfiglio is an American entrepreneur, franchisor, and president and CEO of Tint World®. After owning a number of Meineke Car Care Centers and starting an automotive e-commerce business, he developed Tint World® to begin franchising in 2006. Since then, he’s been instrumental in growing the brand to more than 60 established stores in and out the United States. He lives in Boca Raton, Florida. To find out more, contact Charles.Bonfiglio@tintworld.com.