Similarities & Differences Between Storefront and Non-Brick-and-Mortar Service Brands
Current owners of brick-and-mortar brands can leverage their experience to incorporate a service brand into their portfolio. We were personally able to draw upon our experience as a multi-state salon owner when we decided to add the Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning brand. Alongside our leadership and coaching philosophies, we took the data-rich nature of the salon industry and translated that understanding into operating a service brand.
More specifically, we found the following similarities between the two concepts:
1) Each service technician is essentially their own storefront, just as each stylist is their own mini-business in our salons. Each team member shapes the client experience and ensures repeat business. Thus, instead of tracking performance solely by the stores’ overall sales and profitability, we track individual employees’ performance, and even customer reviews, to see how each team member is doing. As a result, the manager can create unique training and coaching based on each team member’s performance. This is particularly true for most non-brick-and-mortar brands, where many of the tracked metrics apply to every team member. Dialing in on data in this way provides more nuance to what is happening in your business and even more opportunities to flush out profitability and stability with your staff.
2) Having salons spaced across five states gives us the opportunity to coach by phone, email, and Zoom – any way you can think of other than in person. It is easy to walk into physical locations to see if they are clean, if the employees are happy, or if the customers are getting the product and service your brand advertises. Managing remotely, though, demands a deep focus on key business indicators, customer reviews, and employee turnover; and identifying and examining leading and lagging indicators is key. Reliance on this type of data is incredibly important for any non-brick-and-mortar brand since the management is often remote, without a centralized location where all work is performed.
There also are differences between brick-and-mortar brands and service brands that we did not necessarily recognize at first. For us, this was particularly true when it came to marketing. With Oxi Fresh, we tried to dominate too large of a market too quickly. We started with two vans and mailed the entire Valpak mailing area of St. Louis. We had more jobs than we could handle (which then drove customers to our competitors), and our marketing costs made it impossible to make a profit.
In hindsight, we should not have treated our entire market as the equivalency of one brick-and-mortar location. We should have started with two vans in targeted Zip Codes, and once those vans reached capacity then added another van and slowly more ZIP Codes. Doing so not only would have kept marketing costs down, it would have enabled us to perform more jobs in a concentrated area and reduce team members’ drive time.
In determining which ZIP Codes to target first when implementing a service brand, draw on your brick-and-mortar experience. Run the same demographic and competitor analyses as you would for a physical location to determine which neighborhoods to target.
So, when are you ready to take on a non-brick-and-mortar service brand? You will be most successful when, in addition to honing your marketing skills, you are comfortable managing your business according to key business indicators and not line-of-sight management.
Jesse Keyser is a franchisee of 31 units of Sport Clips, Little Caesars, and Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning. He has served on the advisory councils for all three brands, was the 2013 Sport Clips Owner of the Year, and the 2018 Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning Owner of the Year. He also enjoys serving as a business mentor to fellow entrepreneurs.
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