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Thinking About Opening a Second Shop? Here’s One Way to Measure Your Chances of Success

Learn a simple way to assess your potential competitors in this month’s “Ask Signs of the Times.”

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I’m looking at opening a second location. Is there a way to gauge just how competitive the marketplace we’re looking at might be?

Online reviews can help, not just in giving you an anecdotal sense of how well the incumbents are satisfying the local population’s demand for signage and graphics, but also with a data-based insight into the competitive environment. Here’s how: Compile the total number of Google reviews for signshops in the new area. Next, rank the existing companies based on their percentage of all those reviews. “If the leader owns 20-or-more percent of all reviews, look to see if the second, third and fourth-place finishers are close behind. If they are, this is going to be a tougher-than-average marketplace in which to compete,” says marketer Roy Williams, author of the bestselling Wizard of Ads books. “If you see a leader that owns 30-plus percent of all the Google reviews, these people are a force with which to be reckoned.” However, if the current leader has only 6 to 10 percent of the reviews, the outlook for your second location is promising. Note that this approach can work with most markets. The exception is if you’re in a small town without a full complement of competitors.

Should I tell my staff early that I’m planning to sell my sign company?

Yes, yes and yes. Here’s why: You want to be able to reassure your employees that you have their interests at heart as you consider a sale; a late, panicked exodus of staff will not help you close the deal. A prospective buyer will be eager to find out how indispensable you are to the business, so a well-prepared transition plan that phases you out of the day-to-day running of the company may well boost the value of your shop. And possibly most importantly, insider sales, where the business is sold to staff, are among the most successful. And even if your staff aren’t interested in taking over the company, the more people they tell, the better.

What are the elements of a good onboarding program?

The best onboarding programs help new employees get quickly up to speed while also inculcating them in your signshop’s culture and setting a foundation for personal accountability. Do it with a warm, welcoming attitude, and your team members will soon be thinking, “Yes, I’ve found the place I want to work and grow.” If you can check off the following, you’ll be giving your hire a great chance of succeeding:

  • Help the new employee understand how work is done and provide details about the daily operations.
  • Outline the organizational structure and explain where everyone fits in.
  • Articulate and reinforce your values, mission and vision.
  • Help the team member get quickly acclimated to their new environment, which will help them feel connected to others.
  • Be patient and do your best to read their personality. Everyone is different, and a new job can be an overwhelming experience for the first couple of weeks.

Want to see your questions featured in this department? Send your emails to: ask@signsofthetimes.com

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