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Six Costly Assumptions Brand Managers Make when Stores Change Hands


It is all too easy to make incorrect assumptions when stores change hands. In today’s post we’ll explore six of them, then discuss ways to keep them from harming your products and brand.

Faulty Assumption One: Past customers will remain loyal.

As a recent article in Entrepreneur notes, there is no guarantee that past customers will continue to buy after new owners arrive on the scene. It takes special outreach and effort to make sure that they will not take their business elsewhere after owners they have liked go away.

Faulty Assumption Two: Buyers who own a portfolio of stores will not be hands-on enough to run an additional retail business effectively.

In most cases, buyers who already own a number of stores will be smart and attentive owners. In fact, their success in running the stores they already own has enabled them to acquire additional businesses. They’ll probably hire top-notch managers, implement systems to monitor store operations, and do what it takes to succeed.

Faulty Assumption Three: Younger buyers will always upgrade technology.

The fact is, there is no guarantee that will happen. If a younger buyer only wants to keep a store for several years and then sell it, it is unlikely that he or she will invest in expensive upgrades.

Faulty Assumption Four: Family buyers will staff stores almost entirely with relatives.

Sometimes families do staff their stores with relatives who are there to build the family enterprise through “sweat equity.” But that doesn’t always happen. If the buyers are capable retailers, they will recognize the competitive advantage of having top-notch salespeople on the floor – or make sure the relatives who work in the store are well-trained sales professionals.

Faulty Assumption Five: My products will play second fiddle to others that the new owner will bring on board.

The old owner was instrumental in bringing your products into the store, true. And he or she was probably committed to your success. But that doesn’t mean that your products have to fall behind others that the new owner intends to bring on board. In fact, yours could be one of the factors that attracted the buyer to the store.

Faulty Assumption Six:  The arrival of a new buyer means that a store is already a well-run business.

Smart buyers do a good job of selecting stores to buy. They investigate the books, consider the competition posed by other stores in the area, and perform other “due diligence” steps to make sure they are making a good investment. Nonetheless, it can be a mistake to assume that a new buyer has turned up all the problems or flaws in an existing store.  For example, perhaps he or she missed the fact that the previous owner was taking money “off the books” or that a big-box store is about to move into the area and draw away current customers.

How to Not Fall Victim to Faulty Assumptions

Here are some simple steps to take to be sure that your relationship with a new owner starts on a realistic foundation and that your products remains a top priority too . . .

  • Become the most involved brand in the store, by meeting early and often with new owners. It’s the most effective way to be sure that your products and brand stay top-of-mind.
  • Support sales through in-store and other events, new product launches, signage, coupons, product giveaways and other brand-enhancing programs.
  • Conduct competitive research and be the first to alert owners to the arrival of significant competitors and other developments. It’s not difficult to do – simply subscribe to local newspapers and set up Google alerts to tell you about business happenings in the community where the store is located.

Your Products and Brand, Always First

If you learn all you can about the new owner and get involved, the sale of a store can be a valuable opportunity to strengthen your brand and your sales – a catalyst for greater success.