from our Special Report files:
Business is open! Business is good! It’s challenging, stressful, time consuming, but you love it! So now what? In my world and the world I teach to, “you have competitors, but you have no competition.” Do you agree? Just as there are no two people alike or cats or snowflakes or atoms or anything, no one will run a business like you. McDonald’s restaurants have over 13,000 locations in this country and every owner has been to Hamburger University, which is their training school, since it launched in 1961 with just 15 students. Since then 80,000 owners and managers have attended their school. And not every one will be a success.
Even though each McDonald’s runs the same operationally, they are all distinct and a reflection of their ownership, management and locations. Make no mistake, your Vape Store will be a reflection of you. And the world of business is very unforgiving. One bad experience, one pissed off customer, one bad YELP review or some operator smarter than you that opens across the street…and you’re in deep S…T.
How to control & dominate your market:
1: Be real; be authentic; be yourself. Teach your staff to do likewise.
You started this business for a reason. Sure, making money is one, but do you have passion? Passion for what you do, whether it’s helping people kick their nicotine dependency, help a parent avoid creating second hand smoke to potentially harm their children or give your customers the option of smoking in a restaurant or bar without fear of expulsion or embarrassment. Regardless of your Big Motivator, do it for real. A cautionary warning: if you are doing this just for the money, your likelihood of success will be at risk…
As you must be true to yourself, find others to work with that follow that same path. Teach them HOW you want to represent your business and be sure they follow your direction. They will each infuse their unique style on your “message” but the overall direction must be the same as yours.
2: Give as much great service as you can…then do more.
Technology is awesome! It connects people as much as it disconnects us all. What it really comes down to in the world—and especially the world of business—is relationships. People to people. People engaging and trying and wanting to help you and you helping them. DON’T SELL to your customers! I know, that sounds counterintuitive, but if you look at your business as being a place to teach and to counsel and to help people- they will buy. Pay it forward is a trite phrase, but it’s true. Some times that little bit more that you give can bring abundance in return.
3: Develop and follow a business plan; update it every 6 months- and follow it.
Roadmaps (remember them?) are great, and yes, I know they are antiquated, but even so they are ineffective if not pulled out of the glove box. In “today-speak,” what I mean is that your Smart Phone GPS is useless unless you turn on your data plan.
I have worked with hundreds of businesses over the past years and over 90% have no business plan and many had one once but it is outdated or useless. The world of business is different than it used to be and the Rules of Business that many followed for a long time (even decades) are no longer valid. The good news is that the Vape Industry does NOT have to Reinvent itself—it’s too new. It is actually Inventing itself before our eyes, literally every month, which is an unusual opportunity. It is ripe with potential return as well as filled with risk.
What it does require is a combination of old style smart business strategies combined with a new product– and those yet to be developed– and tempered by regulation and legislation and understanding the Pulse of the Consumer. The good news is that there will always be smokers and along with that, smokers that wish to quit. Your market is vast, but so is your number of competitors…
4: Get involved locally and communally with other business owners, government and civic leaders and THE Media.
As I’ve counseled Vape Store owners I find that many are new to business and are part of the vast (80 million strong) Millennial Generation, or Gen Y. They know and embrace and understand technology better than any other generation before, but yet it sometimes insulates them from understanding people and relationships and how business is done.
Social media is cool and hip and critical in growing your business, but meeting people face to face and having a conversation or a coffee can pay dividends. One of my clients was facing a problem with their city over a permitting issue. Because of past relationships I knew several of the city councilmembers of that city, called one, got a contact person in planning, set an appointment, explained the situation and started the process of fixing it.
As far as the “traditional” media, even though it does not carry clout the same as it did for generations, it is still powerful and don’t forget that even conventional media has a large on-line impact and influence. Getting PR and creating press releases and events is an art more than a science, so get help and do it right.
5: Get educated: seek out consultants, training programs in the Vape field and other fields as well.
The one thing you can be sure of is that this industry, the vape Industry, is going through changes and will continue to evolve for quite some time. Government at all levels is getting involved, plus self-serving industries (can you say Big Tobacco?) and as an Advocate of CASAA – The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association, I recommend you stay involved and active and stand for your rights to be a Capitalist against the Big Boys. CASAA (http://casaa.org/) is a watchdog for the smoke-free industry and when they see movements against the industry itself or even individual business owners, they get involved.
If you are a licensee or franchisee of a larger vape company, encourage their involvement as well, along with offering training programs to help everyone. If you are a lone wolf and own and operate your business by yourself you have even more incentive to develop and implement strategies to maintain your position and command your space.
Business many times is equated to dating relationships, which it surely is; it is also compared to war or battle, which it is as well. Darwin espoused Survival of the Fittest, and in the world of business only the strong truly will survive. His actually quote said,
“In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment.” Since all of you are new to the industry since it IS so new, don’t get bogged down in “business as usual” or get too comfortable…Learn to adapt, open your minds and create your Reality.
Norm Bour started VapeMentors in 2013 and since then has consulted in every sector of the Vape and CBD space worldwide. He is a recognized author, speaker, and trainer.