The Sincerest form of Flattery
The Analog Store

By Tony Ozelis

Although it’s often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery; it can also be a great possible shortcut to finding your success in business.

It serves to reason that spending quality time studying a strong, well-run competitor or even a couple of the more successful units of your franchisor, could help you when it comes time to picking the right spot for your own location. Make notes of both their strengths and weaknesses and try to duplicate as much of the positives attributes that you can.

Often called “Analog Stores” by large companies, seeing and studying what you and others are doing – both right and wrong - can really help you plan, locate, design and operate your next site. Just remember to always pay attention to some important details.

How long has the Analog Store been open? – Try to avoid making any decisions based upon any comparable store open less than a year. Because different businesses grow sales at different paces, it’s usually a good idea to limit your analog stores to those that have been open at least a year, of course due to things like weather, the economy and other intangibles…longer is always better.

That’s why you always hear companies report “Same Store Sales” (Those stores open a year or more) when reporting their earnings to Wall Street. Because these stores have been thorough the highs and lows of a complete calendar year, including any mild or wild fluctuations, they serve as a better barometer for predicting your own success and or failures.

Besides, it’s not uncommon for some businesses to experience a honeymoon period when they first open up. This happens quite often with many restaurants and some specialty retailers. If their products, goods and/or services are relatively new or unique to the market, they can open with a bang. Then, usually after a few months, their sales will settle back to more normal levels.

Other uses, such as health clubs, extra-curricular schools, etc. can take a while to build their customer base and therefore build sales. This is especially true if your business will rely on memberships, reservations or if the area is entrenched with your competition or even possibly a single strong competitor in the market. And never under estimate the power and customer dedication of a well-entrenched competitor.

Studying a relatively new store during its first year in business will only give you a portion of their true activity and volumes, producing “false-positives” and possibly result in flawed data.

Next - The Analog Store - Part Two $7.49 .com

About the Author: Tony Ozelis is a real estate development consultant and frequent contributor to  Mr. Ozelis' 23 year career has primarily been focused on restaurant and retail development throughout the United States where he has served as a Director of Real Estate for companies such as Pizza Hut, Inc., Boston Chicken, 7-Eleven and Wendy's International.

With well over 700 successful projects completed to date; he has been at the forefront of incorporating new technologies into corporate real estate development and regularly teaches on subjects such as; Strategic Market Development Planning, Contract Negotiations and incorporating Green Technologies into site design.

Mr. Ozelis is a member of both the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).

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