Experienced convenience store operator Kip Mann provides insight into buying & running a convenience store.
How I got started in the convenience store business
My family has always had shops since I was little and I started working in the family business once I had completed my A levels. I bought my first business from my dad after realising I wanted to enjoy the fruits of my labour.
This was very difficult due to the lack of money or assets I had at the time, but I managed to secure a business loan. Since then I have developed a couple of shops from scratch.
What to look for when choosing a location
When choosing a new store to buy it’s all about location, location, location in my opinion. There are a lot of factors to consider but rarely will you find a shop that ticks all the boxes. If anybody does please let me be the first to know especially if it’s on the market!
I always look for the amount of houses immediately surrounding the store. Competition is also key, you don’t want to get into a price war with another local shop too near your store as the only winner from this is the customer with cheap prices.
Schools nearby is always a benefit as this guarantees plenty of passing kids and parents. Parking is another key factor, in some areas more people will drive than walk to your store. I never worry too much about the size of a shop as I believe it’s about a good layout and product range. You don’t need 15000sq feet to be successful.
I have always used Nisa to help with the store layout and I have used the same shop fitting team for years. I think branding and being part of a buying group are essential we have to get away from the corner shop image and show our customers we are here for their convenience. This is one of the reasons I have spent a lot of money on developing the stores as they have to look professional.
One of the main challenges we face is profit margins because everybody wants a bargain so let’s embrace this and give them what they want (to a certain extent) – try more offers, give price marked product a go. I’m not saying fill our shops with just price marked stock but it does get people through the door.
Assessing a convenience store for sale
When buying a new shop I don’t bother with how it looks but what can be done!
My advice to people starting out in the convenience store business
I have advised a few close family and friends on buying a convenience store for sale, but if somebody is totally new to the game it can be an eye opener.
I don’t think a lot of people realise how much work us shopkeepers have to do in order to be successful. Anybody who wants to join the industry has to be prepared for long hours and sacrifices don’t get me wrong this industry can be very rewarding but you have to work hard. I got a lot of support and backing from my wife Suki and my daughters Kiran, Amanvir and Jayleen. One of the biggest compliments I ever received was when my daughter then about 4 told me how proud she was of me and that my shop looked better than Tesco! I have had a lot of sleepless nights and many hurdles but I believe hard work pays off. My accountant David has helped me a lot along with Andrew my solicitor. My area manager from Nisa has also been great. You have to have sound backing from people you can trust some people just give wrong advice so be careful.