Opening second location

by tailoraaron. Posted on Sep 10, 2020    2    5

Hey guys,

Been a long time lurker here, but first time posting.

I run an extremely popular alterations and tailoring shop in my home town. I’ve promoted someone to management and through her and my team we’ve seen a lot of upward growth even with Covid. We see about 15-20 brides a week, and about 10-20 people a day for alterations.

We’ve capped out our team capability, but I have 1 more unused machine that could be utilized to increase throughput.

One of the most popular alterations shops down south of us by about 15 miles in another upscale small city area closed their doors 2 years ago. The owner retired, not for lack of work. So my question is this:

If you were in my position, would you consider opening a small (300-500 sq/ft satellite location with a staff of two, using our popularity and reputation to drive business?

My goal would be to outfit a pressing and steaming area and move or purchase one to two sewing machines to have some work and tweaks done on premises. The lion’s share of the work would be carted back to our main location where management can confirm QA, with pickup of finished satellite garments happening at the satellite location.

By my estimates based upon analysis of prior years and adjusted for inflation we should realize income that doubles operating costs yearly.

What would you do in my position? Hire one more person to increase throughput and maximize income or expand to a new area?


GeeBrain 1

How many tailoring shops are in the new area? I’m assuming that when that one popular shop closed someone must have taken up that space/filled that vacuum?

Are there any bridal shops/services in that area that you can partner w/ tap into? With your reputation, it could be a lucrative to do a referral program, especially if your new shop is nearby, to help with driving business. After all you’re entering a new ecosystem might be good to make some friends/relationships before diving in.

  tailoraaron 1

Good insight!

All of them are low quantity and quality rated, so none have really been able to fill the vacuum except through default.

I’ll begin research about symbiotic shops.


GeeBrain 1

If near by shops are bad, then this means that customers are starved for a shop that is high quality (and hopefully affordable).

However it is important to note that because existing shops are bad, you might be entering with a negative halo (for lack of better word) around you unless there is something that will help you stand out. This is because existing customers might have been burned before and told their friends xyz shop is bad/oh yea tailors in this area sucks.

In which case, having that initial push/word of mouth will really help speed things up and move you away from the existing competition — putting your second shop in a league of its own. For this I think a referral program will be great!

Does not hurt to use bad marketing in your favor, i.e. “bring in badly tailored dresses with the receipt from our competitor and we’ll fix it for half the price!” To show you’re a cut (see what I did here?) above the rest. Or something to that effect, targeting those leaving REALLY negative reviews for existing competitors.

Being tongue-in-cheek works great if you can put your money (or in this case tailoring machines?) where your mouth is and capture some of the burned customers and convert them into fans. They’re the ones who will go out of their way to promote you, even more so than just happy, first time customers!

chickenroads 3

Sounds like you know the market plenty well enough, to make the decision based on cost vs. Benefit. Sounds like the cost of the second location wouldn't be so much itd bankrupt you if it didnt work. If it doesnt start to show good signs in 3 months close it down.

  tailoraaron 1

Good advice. I’ve been doing this for 30 years now, so the market is pretty easy to read. When my mother and father started the business it was just us for the longest time.

Now that they’ve passed on I’ve focused on growth and ownership rather than entrenching in front of a sewing machine. It’s allowed me the freedom to develop compared to throttling the business through my involvement.

I’ve learned hard lessons over the years that every responsibility I place on myself causes more harm than good in the long run.

What’s the old saying? Find someone that can do 80% as good as you and be fine with the other 20%. Or something like that. Lol