If you are passionate about DIY, tools, and hardware, starting your own store can be a great way to turn that passion into a profitable business. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, UK households purchased approximately £8.54 billion worth of tools and equipment for the home and garden. If you’d like to take a cut of that market, here are 10 steps to help you get started:
1. Research and Plan
Before diving headfirst into your DIY, tools, and hardware store, it’s essential to research and identify your local community’s unique needs. Market research lets you gain valuable insights into your target audience and what products they’re looking for. This will help you tailor your store’s offerings and ensure that you’re meeting the specific needs of your customers.
A well-crafted business plan is key to turning your vision into a thriving reality. Your plan should cover everything from your product offerings and target customers to your competition and financial projections. With a clear plan, you can stay focused and motivated as you work towards achieving your goals.
2. Secure Financing
It’s no secret that starting any new business requires significant capital. You’ll need to secure financing to cover startup costs such as purchasing inventory, leasing a storefront, and marketing your business. But don’t let that discourage you! There are several options available to help you obtain the necessary funds.
One option is to apply for a small business loan. These loans are specifically designed to help entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. You can typically apply for these loans through traditional banks or online lenders. Remember that you’ll need a solid business plan and a good credit score to be approved for a loan.
Another option is to seek out investors. This can be a great way to get the funding you need while bringing on board experienced individuals who can offer valuable advice and guidance. You can pitch your business idea to family and friends or look for angel investors or venture capitalists who specialise in funding new businesses.
Crowdfunding is also becoming an increasingly popular way to fund a new business. With crowdfunding, you can raise money from many people who believe in your business idea. You can create a crowdfunding campaign on platforms like Kickstarter or GoFundMe and offer rewards to those who contribute.
3. Choose a Location
When starting a DIY, tools, and hardware store, one of the most important decisions is choosing the right location. After all, it can make or break its success. You’ll want to find a site that is easily accessible to your customers and provides ample parking to ensure they have a stress-free shopping experience.
When scouting for the perfect location, it’s essential to consider the cost of rent and the size of the space you’ll need to house your inventory and display your products. You’ll want to ensure you have enough space to showcase all of your products while still providing a comfortable shopping experience for your customers. This will also allow you to expand your inventory as your business grows.
Consider looking for a high-traffic area with plenty of foot traffic. This will increase your store’s visibility and attract potential customers. Additionally, make sure your location is easily accessible by car, as many customers will need to transport large items they purchase from your store. Look for unique spaces, such as repurposed warehouses or industrial buildings, that can provide your customers a trendy and unique shopping experience.
If you don’t want to open premises to the public and your storefront will be online, you have much less to worry about. However, you will still need somewhere to keep and ship your stock.
4. Choose a Name and Register Your Business
Your business name should reflect your brand and business and be memorable and easy to pronounce. It’s a good idea to conduct research to ensure your name is unique and not already used by another business.
Once you’ve chosen a name for your business, it’s time to register it with the appropriate government agencies. This will ensure that your business is legally recognised and that you can operate without any legal complications. Registering your business will also give you access to essential business resources, such as licences and permits, tax identification numbers, and banking services.
When registering your business, consider seeking the help of a solicitor or a business consultant. They can guide you through the registration process and ensure you comply with all the legal requirements.
Furthermore, it’s essential to protect your business’s name and brand by trademarking it. A trademark will give you the exclusive right to use your business’s name and prevent others from using it without your permission. This will help you establish a strong brand identity and avoid legal issues arising from name infringement.
5. Find Your Wholesale Suppliers
Finding reliable suppliers is an essential part of starting your DIY store. You need to identify wholesalers and manufacturers who can supply you with high-quality products at competitive prices.
One way to find suppliers is to attend trade shows and industry events. These events offer an excellent opportunity to network with suppliers, learn about new products, and establish relationships with wholesalers and manufacturers.
Another way to find suppliers is to search online directories and marketplaces. Many online platforms connect buyers with suppliers, making it easy to find and compare different suppliers.
Once you’ve identified potential suppliers, it’s crucial to establish strong relationships with them. This involves communicating your business needs, negotiating prices, and building trust and reliability.
Maintaining good relationships with your suppliers is key to ensuring a steady supply of products and avoiding any inventory shortages. It’s also important to keep track of your inventory levels and order products in advance to avoid running out of stock.
6. Purchase Inventory
You’ll need a diverse range of products that appeal to your target customers. This means considering the needs of DIY enthusiasts, hobbyists, professionals, and homeowners with different requirements and preferences.
When selecting products for your store, consider offering a mix of established brands and new, innovative products. Established brands can provide customers a sense of familiarity and trust, while new and innovative products can spark interest and excitement.
You should also consider stocking products at different prices to cater to customers with different budgets. Offer high-end tools and equipment for professionals, mid-range products for DIY enthusiasts and hobbyists, and affordable home products.
To determine what products to stock, you can conduct market research, survey your target audience, and analyse your competitors’ products. This will give you an insight into the products in demand and the gaps in the market that you can fill.
Consider shipping costs, minimum order quantities, and lead times when ordering inventory. You want to ensure you have enough stock to meet customer demand but not so much that you tie up your capital in excess supply. Ideally, you will find a wholesaler of tools and hardware who offers low minimum order costs and quantities so that you don’t have to spend much money upfront or have too much stock taking up space in your warehouse.
Additionally, consider offering value-added services such as tool rental, repair services, and workshops to attract and retain customers. This can help differentiate your store from competitors and provide additional revenue streams.
7. Establish Policies and Procedures
Establishing policies and procedures is a critical step in ensuring the smooth operation of your hardware store. These guidelines will help you maintain consistency in how you run your business and ensure that you provide excellent customer service.
One of the most critical policies to establish is how you will handle customer complaints. Providing excellent customer service is vital to building a loyal customer base, and having a clear process for handling complaints will help you resolve any issues quickly and effectively. Your policies should include guidelines for handling customer complaints in person, over the phone, and online. You should also establish a system for tracking complaints and addressing recurring issues.
Managing inventory is another critical area that requires clear policies and procedures. You should establish guidelines for receiving, stocking, and tracking inventory to ensure you always have the products your customers need. This may include conducting regular inventory counts, setting minimum and maximum inventory levels, and establishing protocols for restocking products.
Employee training is also essential to ensure that your store operates smoothly. Establish policies for onboarding new employees, providing ongoing training, and conducting performance evaluations. Your policies should include guidelines for training employees on safety protocols, product knowledge, and customer service skills.
In addition to these core policies, you should establish store operations guidelines, such as opening and closing procedures, cash handling, and security protocols. These policies will help ensure that your store operates efficiently and that your customers and employees are safe and secure.
8. Build a Website
In today’s world, having an online presence is crucial for the success of any business. With more and more people turning to the internet for their shopping needs, it’s important to have a website that showcases your products and provides customers with a convenient and seamless online shopping experience.
When creating your website, you should consider factors such as user experience and ease of navigation. Make sure your website is visually appealing and easy to navigate, with a clear and concise layout that allows customers to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. You may consider hiring a professional web designer to ensure your website looks professional and is optimised for search engines.
Finally, consider offering online ordering and delivery options for your customers. This can help you reach a wider audience and increase your sales. Establish clear policies and procedures for online orders and deliveries to ensure everything runs smoothly.
9. Hire Knowledgeable Staff
Your staff is one of the most critical components of your business. You want to hire people knowledgeable about your products and passionate about helping customers with their DIY projects. Look for individuals who have experience working with tools and hardware and can provide expert advice to customers.
Once you’ve hired your staff, investing in their training is essential. Provide ongoing education to keep them up-to-date on the latest products and industry trends. You can do this through online courses, in-person training, or attending trade shows.
Not only will ongoing training benefit your staff, but it will also benefit your business. Having a knowledgeable and up-to-date team on the latest products and trends can help you stay ahead of the competition and provide better customer service.
10. Promote Your Business
Marketing is a crucial aspect of any business, and it’s no different for a DIY, tools, and hardware store. You need to make your potential customers aware of your store and the products you offer. To do this, you need to create an effective marketing strategy.
Social media is a great way to connect with your target audience and build brand awareness. You can use platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to promote your store and showcase your products. You can increase your store’s visibility and attract new customers by posting engaging content, running social media contests, and offering exclusive discounts to your followers.
Email marketing is another effective tool for reaching your target audience. Collect email addresses from your customers at the point of sale and use an email marketing platform to send newsletters and promotions. This lets you keep your customers up-to-date on new products, sales, and other special offers.
In addition to digital marketing, consider using traditional advertising methods, such as flyers, billboards, and local newspaper ads. These methods can help you reach potential customers who may not be active on social media or email.
Offering discounts, promotions, and loyalty programs can also be effective ways to attract and retain customers. By offering discounts to first-time customers, you can encourage them to try your store and potentially become long-term customers. Promotions and loyalty programs are also great ways to keep your customers engaged and returning to your store.
Do It Yourself
Starting a DIY, tools, and hardware store can be a challenging but rewarding experience. By following these steps and investing in your store’s success, you can build a profitable business that serves the needs of your community.