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A blueprint for adding on to your business

Successful multi-location owners share their experiences and tips with Automechanika Chicago attendees.
Saturday, April 25, 2015 - 07:00
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Business is going great and you have checked off nearly all of your goals in your current location, what’s next? For many shop owners attending Automechanika Chicago, the next step is opening another location.

But before they head down this path, they took advantage of obtaining a solid roadmap from successful owners Greg and Sherri Sands, who along with their partners own more than 90 repair shops in six states, in addition to other companies. The Sands presented “Becoming a Successful Entrepreneur & Multi-Auto Shop Owner & Operator,” which was sponsored by the couple’s direct mail company, Mudlick Mail.

“The best is we kind of have a set amount that you need for cash. We give (you) kind of a road map — this is what you should have, your financials should look like, how much cash per store and here’s a checklist of how you get through the process of opening another store,” Greg Sands says of the class. 

The PowerPoint presentation featured information on real estate valuation and market trends, aligning asset liquidation with retirement, preparing your business for future sale and planning for shop expansion.

“We give store owners the ability to take a look and know when they’re ready to open additional stores and know what does it take to know if you’re ready for growth,” says Sherri Sands. “In that arena, what should your financials look like, how much money should you have in the bank before considering opening another location. Then we’ll get into what makes a great location as far as site selection and why do some sites fail.”

There are at least four different methods for growth: build to suit, leases, acquisitions or building your own center from the ground up. Sherri Sands explained the methods in valuing current real estate if an owner owns his or her location, in addition to the operations side of the business in determining the best way to value the business for sale.

Overall, the pair covered what are good financials for a shop to have, financial information, the importance of site selection, choosing the right method of growth, knowing the value of your real estate, knowing the value of your business operation and keys to selling for top dollar when you’re ready to do so. Obviously, exit plan strategies were a key component of the presentation.

All of this information comes straight from the pair’s trials and successes throughout the years. Sherri Sands noted that the presentation included a lot of data-driven information, including practical and actual examples of how they have grown multiple units.

“We are current shop owners and we built over 90 locations in six states. We have several stores under construction,” adds Greg Sands. “Instead of someone who might have done this years ago, you’re getting current owners sharing their secrets, which is what we’re doing in how to grow.”

Most people who have been around and tried to do a second location make a critical mistake and don’t investigate the new location. They just think, it’s close to my house, this is great, for example, he explains. All of this, and more, was covered in handouts attendees each received.

“If you don’t have the right location, it can wipe out your first (shop). We really take the time, they’re going to really know what the demographics are,” says Greg Sands. “What kind of car count they need. What the competition looks like. (You’re) going to have an awful lot to look at when they get back to their store.”

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