Are you starting a hardware and supply store during the global pandemic? These eight steps will take you from idea to the Grand Opening in no time.
Amidst the COVID-19 lockdown conditions and the continued shift in how people spend their time and money, one business model has risen as a winning bet—the humble hardware store! Consumers shut indoors has had a positive impact on the industry, with no signs of slowing down.
Since many are revamping their indoor and outdoor home spaces, the market for supplies is stronger than it’s ever been. Savvy entrepreneurs looking for a solid niche to invest in will find that this is not only pandemic-proof but a safe bet in the coming years of economic uncertainty.
Here’s how to open your hardware and supply store using eight lightning-fast steps. Follow each of these step-by-step, and by the end, you will know how to build a booming essential business.
#1: Develop Your “Why” (Your Brand Story)
There are real benefits to opening a hardware and supply store right now. The world will be managing the COVID-19 outbreak for another year, at least, and the economic repercussions will be long-lasting. For the opportunity-conscious entrepreneur, this niche holds real promise.
- Lockdowns, quarantine, and work-from-home models mean more people are at home.
- Home repair items, DIY products, and craft and outdoor supplies are in high demand.
- People are redoing their gardens and transforming them into sanctuaries.
- Working from home has sparked demand for office builds, extensions, and modifications.
- Companies require pandemic supplies (hygiene stations, bulk sanitizer, checkout barriers, and walled-off areas)
You can find additional benefits here.
Stay-at-home orders aside, the biggest benefit of starting your business now is the authentic brand story you will develop. People love a good story, and in years to come, you can talk about how your hardware empire began during the global pandemic of 2020.
Starting a company of this kind during COVID-19 means that you have a powerful “why,” and customers will relate to that and be inspired by a business built on hard times and desperate need. Your first step is to develop your “why” and a good brand story for your store.
#2: Draft Your Business Plan
Create a business plan so that you know where you’re going as your small business grows. There are two main formats to choose from, but, for now, focus on a single page plan. Your hardware and supply shop needs a clearly-drafted, lean start-up business plan.
Your business plan should outline critical elements like your company’s value proposition. Other details include key partners, activities, and resources—customer relationships and revenue streams.
As you scale, this can expand into a more traditional business plan, but, at the moment, a lean canvas gives you everything you need to chart a course forward. Keep it close; it will change often!
#3: Form a Legal Entity
Choose a business structure for your hardware and supply store. This isn’t an easy process, and there will often be more than one right answer. It’s best to keep your legal entity as simple as you can, so that managing it is straightforward.
While a Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a good option for a small hardware store, there are others to choose from:
- Sole proprietorship
- Limited Liability Company (LLC)
- C Corporation
- S Corporation
These are the various types of business entities—choose the right one based on your individual needs. Take note of legal liability and whether or not you’d like your company to be incorporated. Research each entity and weigh the pros and cons. Once you’ve decided on a structure, chat with a lawyer to make sure you’ve settled on the right choice.
#4: Get the Right Permits and Licenses
Make sure to source the required permits and licenses for owning and operating a hardware store. According to the U.S. Small Business Association, all hardware stores have to be licensed. Different states will have varying regulations in place, so check on yours.
It’s important to take steps to secure these licenses before you trade, or you could be subject to legal action and fines. In some cases, businesses have been closed down due to the lack of necessary permits. So, be sure you have any licenses and permits in place before your grand opening.
#5: Establish Your Online Presence
When you’ve reached this step, you’re ready to develop a powerful online presence. This will help your hardware and supply store shine in your community since 97% of consumers search for local companies online. Having a vibrant web presence will attract the local community to your store.
Establish an online store that lists all of your hardware supplies. Optimize your website for the search engines, make sure your local listing is up to date, and be present on social media. Combining these techniques will get your e-commerce business off the ground and on the way to earning real money.
#6: Build a Strong Marketing Message
This step is about marketing acceleration. During the coronavirus pandemic, you will have a marketing advantage if you sell products in-store and through your e-commerce platform. Good thing you established that web presence in the previous step!
By creating a pandemic-proof system, you will keep customers buying from your store, no matter how stringent social distancing becomes. Local marketing for your online business will get people to your new store and shopping on your e-commerce site.
Make sure that your brand is memorable, and that your marketing focuses on COVID-19-related demand. Run targeted promotions that tell your local customers you have the supplies they need for their pandemic projects!
#7: Practice Safety Measures in Your Store
It’s essential to focus on your in-store safety protocols. Make your hardware business as safe for your employees and customers as possible by observing the correct hygiene and social distancing practices. If your store is safety-orientated, customers will be happy to shop there.
Hand sanitizer at the entry of the store, contactless payments, and checkout screens are some examples of safety measures you can take. You can also tape the floor—showing customers where they should stand while waiting in line to keep the proper distance from each other. Reserve a time slot from 8 to 9 a.m. in the mornings for senior shoppers only.
#8: Offer Curbside and Local Deliveries
The final step is to let customers know that if they don’t feel comfortable shopping in-store, your hardware and supply business has other options. They can order what they need from your online shop and have it delivered to their local address. Fast delivery means more profit!
They can also order online and take advantage of your curbside pickup service. Customers can wait for their orders to be delivered to them while they remain in their car. Just get them to book a time slot and save on delivery costs.
If you follow each of these steps, you’ll be able to piece together a hardware store business model that will be structured to excel in the COVID-19 economy. Remember to create your “why” and brand story first, then draft a lean one-page business plan to chart a course forward.
From there, pick your legal entity and secure the right permits and licenses. Spend some time developing a vibrant online presence with a complete e-commerce storefront to make your company pandemic-proof.
Then, market to your local community based on current demand while putting excellent safety protocols and innovative delivery services in place. This is how your hardware and supply store empire will begin in 2020.