Thinking of carrying dry herb vapes in your shop? This is the ultimate guide on what features and customer pain points to look for when picking a good line to carry.
Using a good vape shop POS is a fundamental component to running a legitimate and successful business. This guide will direct you to the best vape-friendly POS systems that will supercharge your shop. You must first become aware that Point of Sale Systems are in a new era of never before seen technology and features. We now see tablet-based table units and cloud-based back end management as a fundamental feature for almost all POS systems. The age of POS has never been more advanced, which means interacting with the customer has changed forever.
In order to build a successful vape store, you must know your customer and know what they want. Vape review sites are the best way to do that. Unfortunately, researching the top box mods you need to stock in your vape shop is difficult. With the added headache of a continuous release of new vape mods on the market, you can easily see where this can all become overwhelming very quickly.
Clearly one of the most prominent parts to running a vape shop is keeping the latest vape products in stock for your customers. What’s even more important is having vaping products in stock that customers are more prone to purchase. This is why product selection is a key component of not only running a vape shop, but running a successful one. In this article we’re going to scope in on which low, middle, and high-end vape products you should keep stocked up. In any vape shop there should be three categories to cover your overall product line-up. Each of these categories will serve as a way to reach a specific audience.
Regal Cinemas operates nearly 600 movie theaters and over 7,000 screens across North America. In 2011 they brought in $2.6 Billion in revenue. Needless to say they are doing very well. But what can vape shop owners learn from a loyalty program at national movie theater chain?
The Regal Crown Club (RCC) loyalty program is masterfully crafted, and vape shop owners should pay attention to how it’s done. Here’s a flyer I got with my receipt the last time I visited a Regal Cinema. The loyalty program is easy to understand and easy to join.
Why are some shops making $20,000 a month and easily hitting their sales goals while others are wondering when their doors will close?
The question is loaded, and perhaps there is not an easy answer, but there is a straightforward solution brought to you by the E-Myth Method of business management.
In 1986, Michael Gerber’s wrote a book called “The E-Myth”. Its concepts dealt with the differences between so-called “technicians” and actual business owners.There is a HUGE difference, and the ideas are just as accurate today as they were back then.
The vape industry is crawling with “technicians”
FREE TRAINING – Open Your Vape Shop in 2016
Join us next Tuesday, March 1st for a free webinar on how to start a vape shop.
If you don’t know your customers then your business is doomed to fail.
Creating a customer avatar can really help you understand who your ideal customer is and how to reach them.
I wanted to share this great article and free resource from DigitalMarketer.com. You can download their free worksheet and read the article on how to fill it out.
Read the article here:
from our Special Report:
What’s wrong with this picture?
A customer comes in, seemingly a bit nervous; they’ve never been to a vape shop before. But you’re busy with someone else, maybe a regular or maybe a friend or maybe you’re busy talking with one of your associates. You pull yourself away from whatever you’re doing, answer their silly questions, sell them a starter kit or a low priced mod and maybe some supplies and send them on their way.
Question: What are the odds that that person will return??
It’s not rhetorical, but one I see more or more with a negative answer as I find that customer service is lacking in many Shops. WHY?
1: Lack of training
Whoever owns the shop must develop a message and Mission Statement that transfers to the customers and the public. How does that owner and shop want to be perceived? If the owner is experienced and understands the mindset of their customers then that information and presentation must be conveyed to the customer.
Once upon a time in the computer world the expression “garbage in, garbage out” was used to explain why certain processes didn’t work. If you input the wrong data then the wrong answers will result. It’s no different with this issue of lack of training. If the owner doesn’t understand the whys and the hows of the way their business should run, it is hard to expect the staff to know those answers.
Many shops have great technicians, i.e., those that really understand the products and how to explain it, but are lacking social skills. Showing up your vast knowledge is great in a social setting or for those that have a good foundation or are really into Vaping, but for many newbies you can confuse them and turn them off by coming across as too arrogant or showy.
2: Poor selection of employees
It’s awesome that you can hire and work with your friends, but in many cases it’s the worse thing you can do. Good friends—or relatives—do not always equate into good employees. Your store is not Party Central, but a place to provide awesome service and education to the public that will buy your products and continue to do so.
If you do hire blood or friends you must set the ground rules from day one that business is business and friendship is friendship. It may help to have someone else in charge of your employees so they can be impartial and if they need to be the “bad cop,” it insulates you. If you cannot afford a manager to intervene then be sure you outline, in writing, all job duties that are required and expected.
In the world of business this also transfers over to doing business with friends or relatives regarding borrowing or lending money. If you do have occasion to borrow or lend, be sure that everything is in writing and not on a handshake. An interest rate (if any) should be stipulated, along with payment schedule and due dates and there must be recourse for payments not made. The number of friendships and family relationships I have seen ruined by money could fill a small book.
3: Not understanding the needs of your customer
Whoever walks through your doors has a motivation that brought them there. What is it? Do they wish to quit after decades of tobacco addiction? You could be their last chance. Are they possibly a new parent and don’t want to expose their infants to second hand smoke? Are they looking for a way to continue smoking in a social setting without being perceived as an outcast? The only way to know the WHYS is to ask.
It seems common sense, but I find that common sense is not that common.
Everyone that works in the shop must be trained on how to greet and how to create a relationship with all new customers. This does not mean everyone becomes robotic, but it does mean that everyone will infuse their/ your own styles on how you relate to the customer.
Those dovetail into #1 above as well, and that is, speak at the level of your customer. If they are brand new, then ease them into the big picture of e-cigs and Vaping and don’t cram all your knowledge down their throats.
4: Be mindful of the age and needs of your customers
This gets a bit tricky and may seem stereotypical, but different generations should be addressed differently. Some examples:
- Baby Boomers have (usually) limited patience and less physical dexterity than a Millennial. Their eyesight is not as accurate and to see small things, like letters or screws or wicks, may require glasses. For many Boomers they want one thing: simplicity and answers to their reasons for being there. The good news is that if you are successful at treating them well and helping them kick their habit you can create a loyal well-heeled customer.
- Gen X’s (between about 32-50 or so) like technology and many think this Vape thing is reminiscent of when they built computers as toys 20 years ago. They may like the variety of mods and filters and wicks and flavors and may become good clients if you can educate them the way they want to be educated.
- Millennials will be your biggest customer base and potentially your most loyal customers if you treat them properly from the beginning. Seriously, there is lots of competition both with physical shops and on-line options, so why would they continue coming back to you? One reason: Relationships. They must like you, know you and trust that you have their best interests at stake.
5: Remember the “Golden Rule”
Which is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” in other words, ask yourself, “How do you like to be treated in a retail store? What makes you come back and what ticks you off?”
If you treat your customers the way that you like to be treated that will go a long way towards separating yourself from the less than ideal customer service experience throughout the industry.
What are the top questions you wished you asked or what do you wish you knew then that you know now? Can you avoid learning “the hard way?”
If you have a vape shop or are planning to open one, you have a Natural Market. You may not know that, realize that or tap into it, but in a few minutes it will all make sense.
WHO opens a Vape Store and why? Generational (age specific) differences are significant and here are the categories:
- Gen Y (Millennials)
- Gen X
- Baby Boomers
The Millennials, who are in their twenties to very early thirties, have been and will be dissected for generations to come. More numerous than the Boomers, 80M vs. 72M, they/you have a lot of talent, skill, initiative, great adaptability and show a strong desire for Social Responsibility and Cause Marketing.
Great technical and social media skills come easily but do not always transmit into the business world. Because you’re all over Twitter and Instagram does not mean you understand how to apply that outside your personal life. And when you do focus on business it must be with some thought and strategy and you don’t want your drunken bachelor party pictures up there on your company site.
The Gen X folks are in mid race right now, between young thirties and about fifty. They may be married, even divorced by now, probably have kids and depending upon when they started, the kids could be out of the house already. They are also facing realities of aging and may see less hair, more fat, more wrinkles, more pain and soreness, diminishing eyesight and lesser manual dexterity skills and all that comes with the aging process. If you are young and laughing, just wait; your time will come.
The Boomers are fifty plus to late sixties. Imagine former (or still) hippies, thinking they will stay young and live forever but are continuously getting shocked by reading obituaries of those the same age or even younger.
Depending upon which one of these categories you fit in to will have a big effect on your Natural Market. Mind you, that does not exclude the others, it just brings some things into easy focus and some things less easy to understand.
There are also subsets of these folks, including:
- Tech geeks
- Social cause and charity junkies
- Sports freaks and lovers
- Natural food and health conscious people
- Gym rats
- Gays of both sexes
- Foreigners from any land you can imagine
- Former and recovering persons with addictions
These are just some of the major categories of Natural Markets. What others come to mind?
Your relate-ability for those you are close to and understand will give you a natural edge over your competition. Case in point.
Let’s say you’re a Boomer, age 55, former jock, and former Harley Davidson rider. That is you and many of your friends and those you hang with are you as well. If you open a vape shop, doesn’t it make sense to create an environment that is comfortable for those cohorts?
That does not mean you create a clique and exclude everyone else; we’re talking about Competitive Positioning and identifying you from all the rest.
When you open your shop you should understand these things beforehand. There are three steps I employ with every business and project I undertake:
- Develop strategies
- Implement systems and processes
- Go get and keep customers
Most new business owners want to go right to stage three before they understand themselves and have a chance to share that and before they put procedural processes into place.
Maybe this makes sense, maybe it doesn’t. If it doesn’t you will be starting off in a weak position so I encourage you to look into yourself, your lifestyle, and your market and be sure everything you do represents that.
What are the top questions you wished you asked or what do you wish you knew then that you know now? Can you avoid learning “the hard way?”
Since starting VapeMentors in July 2013 these seven questions have not changed that much. Many of these questions motivated us to create the Vape U programs, which now cover brick and mortar shops as well as e-liquid companies.
Many aspiring vape shop owners want to open a store based on excitement and a desire to “change the world,” and have good intentions. In most cases they lack any type of business plan or model, have no idea where to start and may have unreal expectations.
They think “if I build it they will come.”
That’s just a movie cliché and couldn’t be further from the truth.
Most businesses fail not because of a lack of demand or too much competition, (or because they “didn’t build it”), but because they haven’t taken the time to understand themselves, their market or their own business.
- Know thyself
- Understand what you want to accomplish
- Execute and deliver
Becoming a Vapreneur and running a successful store is simple, but it is not easy. The following guide will help start you off right.
1: Why Open a Vape Shop?
Do you know what you’re getting in to? Do you fully understand what you are up against? Do you have all the tools and resources you need?
Going into business for the wrong reasons is one of the worst things you can do as an entrepreneur.
Take this seriously and really think about it. Why do you want to open a vape store?
- Because you love vaping?
- Because you just want to start a business?
- Because you want to help people stop smoking cigarettes and “change the world”?
- Because you want people to enjoy themselves?
- Because you can’t get a job?
2: What Are Your S.W.O.T.S. (‘s)
“Most businesses are about 80% the same” is what I was taught by my mentor and have shared with many.
Every one wants more revenue, more net income, less expenses, better employees, etc… A tire store has the same goals as a florist shop, a restaurant… or a vape shop.
That last 20% is all that separates one from the other. It’s the reason there are hundreds of McDonalds Restaurants that all have a identical menus but don’t necessarily deliver the same experience.
The same is true for vape shops.
This 20% is also the foundation where you begin to differentiate yourself from others and is known as your “Competitive Position.” In my world there is no competition, though there are competitors . I suggest you adopt that perspective.
It’s what makes you, you, and your shop like no other. The personal touch and connection that reflects you, your city and the area and customers you serve. And it’s the reason your customers will choose you over your competition.
How do develop a stand-out strategy? You begin with a SWOT analysis.
SWOT stands for:
Being able to address these 4 ideas will start you on the right path and help you develop your competitive position
Own that 20%; Make it yours
It’s the only way to truly know thyself.
3: What is Your Startup Budget?
Do I have enough money to find a location and pay the rent, get the necessary permits and licenses required at the local, city, county, state and federal level? What about inventory, signage, marketing material?
In a recent interview Mark Cuban (from Shark Tank) stated “If you are starting a business and take out a loan, you’re a moron”.
He went on to say that 99% of small businesses can be started with little or no money. Probably. Maybe…
Based on feedback and reports from hundreds of shops nationwide we have good insight on how much to spend on what and what you can bypass at the beginning. Do not trust your gut, but compile solid data and metrics based on proven techniques.
4: Where Do You Get Help?
When I was young(er) our generations’ goal was to be a “success” before you reached age 30. At the time it seemed a long, long way off.
In my twenties I knew everything! I had all the answers. Or not.
In my thirties I started getting a bit smarter and learned from some of MY mistakes as well as the mistakes of others. I had energy! I had
Optimism! I had a Positive Attitude!
But what I lacked was guidance…
I had more ideas, some of them good, most of them bad, that cost me more time, money, relationships than I care to admit. But I also had time. Time to try. Time to fail. When you are young you think you have lots of time…until you don’t.
It took me almost five decades to recognize that I needed a mentor, and finally found one. Actually I found several.
A mentor is someone that tells you your ideas suck. Or that you are wasting time or not focused. A mentor helped me recognize my own weaknesses, worked on ways to fix them, and his ass-kicking made me better, smarter. It’s a shame it took me too many years to learn. If I had guidance and focus when I had energy and excitement I would have succeeded sooner and to a greater extent.
“You can fail by yourself, but you cannot succeed alone,” is one of my mantras. You need people around you; like-minded people. You don’t need an MBA or conventional academic knowledge. Many entrepreneurs never went to college.
5: Do I really understand this industry?
Every day some media report smears the vaping community about kids ingesting a vial of e-Juice or speculates and questions about “what’s in it?”. Other reports incite controversy over FDA and state or local politics.
Some of it is true and warranted. Most of it is self-generated media controversy since, like the Don Henley song asks, “who doesn’t like ‘Dirty Laundry?’”
Regardless it’s a huge distraction for any Vapreneur.
Government agencies from the FDA to your governor’s office to your local city hall have made future planning for vape stores highly unpredictable.
I have personally worked with several cities and local governments on these issues. In one instance a vape shop owner was granted all the necessary permits and licenses from his city to open a vape shop and even committed to a lease with a local property owner.
Weeks later the city council rescinded his business license and stopped his shop from opening. Even with advocates from the community showing their support the city put him out of business before he began. And cost him almost $50,000.
He was still liable for his rental agreement and was stuck renting space for a business he could not legally open. He is not the first to be victimized here and will not be the last. Do your hmework! Before you venture too far, let us help you clear the tracks.
We have structured letters to landlords and to zoning and permit departments, attended several local hearings, city council meetings and met with many Mayors and city councilmembers over these issues.
Where are you getting education about the industry? From the media and from following very bad examples of cities that preceded them.
6 + 7: What If…
What if “stuff happens” that is unforeseen? Do you have money in reserve? Are you spending all your life savings? Have you borrowed from friends, family or partners? What if you lose it all? These are questions not designed to scare you but to help make a logical, rational, and conscious decision. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst…