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Investing in Boutiques in 5 Steps

Boutiques can be stationary or they can be mobile, but they are all specialty retail stores that offer a variety of clothing, jewelry, accessories, and related services. They cater to customer interest in vintage and latest fashions, handbags, shoes, and a plethora of special interests. For the avid or even the sporadic shopper, it is great when they discover these little gems throughout their metropolitan area. On one hand, for these retail shoppers, it helps them invest in their own personal style as shipments come in week after week and month and month. Meanwhile, boutiques are also a great business opportunity for financial investors who know or are willing to learn the ins, outs, ups, and downs of this industry and the segment they intend to concentrate on and cater to with this venture.

These retail stores can be a stand-alone or chain store where there are many throughout their city, country and around the world. The stand alone store in any metropolitan area is typically located along the same street as other boutiques, in an isolated strip mall along a street with great pedestrian and vehicular traffic, or within a mall building structure apart from department stores, typically with specialized competing merchandise. These options are important to keep in mind when approaching purchasing a venue from a business perspective.

As the business owner of a retail store or multiple boutiques, one has to stay in the know on all aspects of creating, opening, running and growing one’s clientele for a successful business. There are many pieces of advice out there and the following will be just five things to consider. Before gathering investors, it is important to constantly stay informed about the industry you intend to enter with your business. The following is five ways to start one of your area boutiques.

1. It is important to know what you intend to sell. Your retail store should identify and represent its niche in the giant market of clothing or accessories but not necessarily so narrow as an entire store for belt buckles.

2. It is important to know who you are selling your product to by completing thorough market research. This includes demographics, shopping patterns, shopping traffic and even public financial records to follow the pattern of spending in your industry and area.

3. It is important to know the business you are entering. Researching the other businesses that are also selling high-end clothing/shoes, top designer clothing/shoes, children/baby clothing, shoes and accessories, or even their own designs to compare and see what you should be thinking about doing too. It is helpful to see similar businesses across the nation, worldwide but especially in your area.

4. It is important to know how all the above research can help you create a realistic financial plan of action for the establishment in the form of a business plan. From there it is highly advised that you let an accountant help you to fine tune the language and numbers before approaching investors for backing for the venue, inventory, employees and marketing.

5. Last but not least, know how to start and maintain healthy professional relationships. Those relationships include effective communication and cost effective transactions with investors, customers and suppliers throughout the life of the venture.

RecEx Interview Q and A

What is a Recognized Expert?

When people go looking for a product or service, they’re often confronted with lists of people or companies that may or may not provide the solutions they’re looking for. They’re then faced with somehow deciding which of these providers is the correct choice. What do many people do? They ask their friends and family for recommendations. Most of the time, the mere recommendation is the only research we do to find a solution provider.

So how does a business person get to be the solution provider being recommended? By having the qualifications – the experience, certifications and testimonials – that set them apart from the competition. They can publicly prove their expertise in a number of ways. People see these proof materials, and recognize them for the experts that they are. They are granted Recognized Expert Status by the public.

How does building that status help a business person?

In running a business, we spend a lot of our resources – time, money and materials – drumming up new business. We go looking for a pool of prospects, spend time qualifying them, and then try to convince them to do business with us. RecEx Status helps to turn this process on it’s head. When your expertise goes out before you, and you have an entire staff of what are essentially unpaid salespeople promoting you, your products or your services, you can shift those extra resources to developing a higher quality solution for your clients. This is the start of an upward spiral. The better of a solution you provide, the more people will recommend you.

What is a position, and why is it important?

Let’s take fast food as an example. You’re driving, you’re hungry, and there are a ton of options. Do you want to drive through some place? Pull up and be waited on? Get out of your car and go in? A given fast food restaurant can set themselves apart with the way they service drivers. Does a place specialize in burgers, or maybe chicken? That’s another way they can move away from the competition.

Think about strictly burger joints. There’s the place with flame broiled patties, the place with square patties, the place with the free toppings bar, the place with the clown. Each of these is a differentiation, a position in the mind of the pool of consumers.

You want to have a set of perceived qualities that sets you apart from any competition in the minds of your clients and prospects. You want to build a position that says, “When you come to us for a solution, this is what you can expect.”

What are Expert Proof Materials?

EPM are the products you create that establish your expertise in a given subject. Say you clean rugs for a living. Your EPM might include a booklet you’ve written on the value of properly maintaining high-end rugs and carpets, along with certification in proper cleaning techniques by the manufacturer of high-end carpets. It might also include blog posts on your web site, along with video testimonials from satisfied customers.

In short, it’s anything you can produce that demonstrates your qualifications to be called an expert on a given topic.

Why is Public Relations important?

You can be the world’s most qualified person at something, but if no one knows about it, then are you really an expert? The field of Public Relations helps you establish a dialog with your clients, prospective clients and the public in general. This is different from advertising! An advertisement says, “I am this, we can do X for you.” We all know that anyone can buy an ad, and you can claim almost anything in an ad. But news stories about one of your accomplishments, or a op-ed where you put forth an opinion, or a series of blog posts… these connect you with your audience the way an advertisement never will.

The public can learn more about you and your services this way as well. It will help people “trip over” you, finding solutions for problems they might not even have known they had.

Can you explain some of the Recognized Expert principles?

They say “Familiarity breeds contempt.” What this means in our context is, if anyone can get hold of you at any time, they won’t value you very highly. So as a Recognized Expert, we suggest you establish restricted access. Hire a receptionist to screen your calls, and perhaps limit the times and days when you speak with clients and prospects. This restricted access leads directly to exclusivity. Perhaps your staff deals with 90% of your prospects and clients, and only the remaining 10% have access to you. When you give a talk or presentation, you’re not on for the entire program, but are featured as a special guest. You’re able to charge big money for one-on-one consultations.

When people do research on you, they run across certifications you hold. These might be diplomas from colleges, or certification in higher training from trade groups. They might even be licenses to practice issued by the government. Once they meet with you, they should be able to look around and see the trappings of your profession. If you’re a doctor, you’re probably wearing a white coat and have appropriate medical equipment nearby. If you’re a lawyer, you have law books. If you’re a travel expert, you’ve got exotic souvenirs in your office. People can see that you’re an expert because you look like one.

Why did you write this book?

Recognized Expert Status was written as a response to the questions I got from prospects and friends. It’s a brief explanation of what we help our clients become, and why. Agile’ is a boutique agency; that is, we work with a few clients at a time, and provide each one with top flight services. So realistically, we can’t work with everyone who comes to us. This book is a way of providing them with quality tools so that they can begin the process of developing RecEx Status themselves. It’s meant to be both an introduction to the Status, and a springboard to developing it. It’s short enough to work through quickly, and we back it up with a companion web site – www.ProfitAsAnExpert.com – that offers more in-depth education and training.