Did you know that there are 152,720 convenience stores in the United States? People love these stores because of how convenient they are. They usually have late hours or are open 24 hours and have a little bit of everything you might need and want so if you’re looking for recession-proof business this could be it.
Therefore if you have always wanted to run your own corner shop, you are in the right place. We have this step by step guide on how to open a convenience store.
1. Plan Your Business
Before you get started you have to get your business plan in place and secure the funding to get started. During this step, you want to decide whether you want to be an independent store or if you want to buy into an existing franchise with a reputable name such as a 7-Eleven.
You have to be extremely clear about how much you have to make per month in order to meet the financing costs or franchising costs. The location you choose will play a big role in how much you make because the more foot traffic you have the better your chances of making a profit.
While you are in the planning phase you will want to choose a location where you want to be. Once you choose your location you can identify your target market and make sure that you have what they want to buy in your store.
Certain areas will require you to carry more alcohol, beer, and cigarettes than in other areas. Or your location might have more people coming in for a quick snack or for food during their lunch break.
2. Licenses and Insurance
Once your business plan is in place and you have chosen the perfect location you have to apply for any permits and licenses that are required in your local area. You also want to make sure that you have the appropriate insurance in place to cover employees, your store, and customers.
Keep in mind that when you sell things like lottery tickets, tobacco, and alcohol there are special permits that you will have to apply for. Sometimes these permits take a while to get approved so you want to make sure that you apply as soon as you can.
3. Establish a Legal Entity
Next, you will have to establish a legal business entity. You can opt for an LLC to prevent you from being personally liable if your store is sued, or you can opt to set it up as a DBA or corporation.
If you are not familiar with the different entity options we highly recommend consulting a professional agent or attorney in your area to help you. This will prevent you from running into any legal issues in the future and will also help you stay compliant.
4. Vendors and Suppliers
You can’t run a convenience store without items to sell. If you are setting up an independent store then you will need to research and find the best frozen food distributor, coffee vendors, toiletries suppliers, etc.
If you are buying into a franchise this step is a bit easier because you are usually given the vendor’s information and do not have to choose these yourself. During this process, you will establish schedules for deliveries and the number of products you will need.
You want to make sure that you find vendors that you can easily make changes in the future. When you are starting out they might require a minimum amount to be ordered but you want to be aware of their policies if you have to reduce your order amount or increase it.
You will need staff members to keep your store running smoothly. Your employees are a vital part of your store because they will be taking care of your customers and providing them with their experience. If you want to have a reputable store that has repeat customers, do not skimp on the interview process.
Take the time to personally interview each candidate before making a decision whether to bring them on board or not. Invest in training each employee properly right from the start to save you time and money.
6. Web Presence
In today’s day and age, you want to be online as well. Even though you have a brick and mortar business, people usually will search on their phones before going into a store. Having a business website and making sure that search engines like Google know you exist will make a difference when people are searching for convenience stores near them.
You can also use the power of social media to attract new clients. For example, on Facebook set up a Facebook business page and post new products, promotions and discounted items on it regularly. You can offer daily specials to your social media following and even have a grand opening countdown and event on opening day. While your store will be mostly frequented by locals, customers will travel for the right incentive i.e. promotion.
Now You Know How to Open a Convenience Store
Now that you have our guide on how to open a convenience store, you can go ahead and take the necessary steps to make this dream come true. Now is also the time to make the decision whether you want to commit to this endeavor or not.
A convenience store is for someone that does not mind working different schedules whenever it’s needed. Even if you have employees you never know when things will come up for them and they will have to call out at the last minute. We wish you the best during this exciting time.
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