How to buy a bridal shop
As the big day approaches, and our Harry and his American bride prepare to tie the knot in front of a worldwide audience of hundreds-of-millions, several businesses here in the UK will see a boost to their coffers. Think hotels around Windsor, shops selling bunting, union flags and all manner of souvenirs, as well as the tourism industry at large. And while Megan’s wedding dress is, at the time of writing, still a closely guarded secret, millions of wedding watchers will be keenly waiting the big reveal of the bridal gown. Which got us thinking, if you were considering buying a bridal shop, what would be the top ten things on your due diligence checklist?
1. Location, location, location. As with most retail or premises-based businesses, where you’re located is pretty important. Is it easily accessible, and is there space for the wedding party with all her bridesmaids and the mother of the bride? What are the rents like, do rates apply and how long is left on the lease?
2. Stock. What type of dresses should you stock when you’re buying a bridal shop? It’s difficult to appeal to all tastes, so you might need to target a specific client base that’s pertinent to your area. Stock rotation is as important as it would be in most businesses and, of course, if you hold a lot of stock then that’s tying up your cash.
3. Suppliers. Who do you source your dresses and accessories from? There will be a wide variety of designers and dress makers to choose from – choose well and build strong relations with those suppliers. Sometimes less is more, and those strong relations might pay you back in terms of margin and service levels.
4. Advertising. How do you find your customers? And, if you’re buying a bridal shop that’s been trading successfully for a while, how do you maintain that level of trade? Whether it’s online advertising, print media or specific events, you’ll need to set aside a marketing budget each year – and then analyse it to see what works.
5. Wedding fairs. This type of event will be one of your most successful marketing activities, so long as you get it right. You’ll be competing with other bridal shops, so think about how you present your business in the best light. You’ll also need to factor in the time for wedding fairs, which are often held at weekends.
6. Personnel. Buying a bridal shop isn’t for the lone-operator, as you’ll definitely need to employ staff to help at busy times and for events like wedding fairs. If you’re buying a bridal shop that’s already trading, you need to consider the staff that are already in place, whether they’re right for you and how TUPE regulations apply.
7. Availability. Planning a wedding can be a logistical headache, and so in buying a bridal shop you’ll need to be flexible in your opening hours. The more you can make yourself available to the bride and her wedding party, then the more likely you are to build a great reputation and benefit from referrals and recommendations.
8. Service. Just as planning a wedding can be a logistical headache, it can also be a very emotional time for everyone involved. So, as the owner of a bridal shop, you’ll need to be sensitive to the stresses and strains of the wedding party. Be understanding, considerate, patient and calm and you’ll be able to handle any bridezilla!
9. Know your industry. Buying a bridal shop might not be the best move for an introverted and cynical type. It takes a certain personality to handle the emotions involved. And the more knowledge you have of your industry at large, then the better advice you’ll be able to give to your paying customers.
10. Finances. Like any commercial investment, buying a bridal shop needs a strong business plan in place. It’s likely you’ll need some personal capital to invest, but you can also approach a bank for funding, particularly if the business you are buying shows strong cashflow, profit and historical performance.
If you are thinking about buying a bridal shop, then there are plenty of articles here to help you with the wider due diligence process. The Royal Wedding might be a global event, but weddings happen all the time and a good bridal shop operates in a market place that isn’t going out of fashion any time soon.