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UTC

Veni, Vidi, Posti
63 GS160 MK1 / GT60 / Sean Wotherspoon
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UTC quote
MV'rs.

Lynda and I are torn by a business oppurtunity and respectfully would love to hear your feedback on this.

Let me preface it by saying we are extremely grateful at VTO now going into our third year that you have embraced us, entrusted us and allowed us to have success by buying our scoots, motorcycles, accessories and allowing us to service your machines the past 2+ years. You, the clients are why we are here and we will never lose sight of that. This is indeed your Vespa shop. Having said that we want to do something that will give you an even better scooter experience in Thousand Oaks and need to basically put a blind eye to the current economy to do it.

Our current building is tight, we all know that, we call it "intimate" however as we grow it is getting more and more impossible to offer you all what you want and serve you in the way we desire. Our current building is 1000 square feet of showroom and 2000 square feet of bike display and service department, however of course most of you already know this. We have 8-10 bikes in the showroom, 30 in the shop and 60 more in containers.

We have the oppurtunity to move down the street a couple of miles (still on Thousand Oaks Blvd) into a nearly 5000 square foot building where all 100 of our scooters and motorcycles would be on display inside climate controlled 24/7, we would roll 6-8 bikes out front a day and thats it. The accessory department will grow compliments of the room into one of the largest in So Cal, servicing everything from scooter related items to offroad and track bike type stuff. It would be a World class experience and one of the most beautiful and functional Piaggio buildings in the World and clients would navigate it with ease, we so so want that however......

The rent will nearly double and thats our only fear. We are confident we can support this with hard work and customer satisfaction but the question is should we? This would be an absolute "destination" location whether you were needing something or just wanted to hang out at the working museum.

Those of you that know Lynda and I know we are very dedicated and sincere about all aspects of our relationships with you all, we are willing to take the leap of faith of this all to give you a better place to call home, it literally would be awesome. Do we want it? do you want it? we are close.

Any discussion will be deeply considered and we are very grateful for your feedback in advance. Remember I am on and love MV because I love scooters, not because I am a dealer so my fellow scooterist's opinions matter deeply to me.

Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving,
David and Lynda Meyer
Vespa Thousand Oaks
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Here's an outsider to SoCal's POV, but from one who does have some inkling of the current climate.

If you have the capital to do it, and enough already in reserve to weather any 12-month downturn without borrowing (excessively), then do it. The next few months, perhaps two years, will favour the brave who stand with their own feet on the ground but are prepared to take some risk. You will expand into the extra room, don't doubt it.

My personal guess is that a lot of folk will be trying to think of all sorts of ways to reduce their daily expenditure and balance their budgets - using a scooter for single or two-person commuting has to be a sensible way of doing that. As long as you match the potential purchaser to the ride that suits them (and some should be dissuaded from riding altogether) rather than the sale that suits you, then you should do well.

Again, if you have the capital, build up a decent parts inventory - this will save much frustration not just of customers but also of your engineers - if they need a caliper pin kit make sure there is one on the shelf.

At the end of the day it's the quality of service (both personal and mechanical) that will keep loyal customers coming back year after year, not how big or glossy the showroom is - but maybe Piaggio can help out with the 'glossy' side of things?

Enough rambling from me - I'm delighted some are spotting opportunities in the present uncertain times.
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UTC quote
Hi there,

I'll second what jimc said...the dealership here in Oceanside was in a smaller shop similar to what you mentioned. He then took the "plunge" and moved into a larger location and it has paid immense dividends. A true Vespa experience and room to move around, display product and invite the customer into a warm and welcoming atmosphere. I would suggest that you contact Dani (General Manager) and get her opinion on how the move worked out for them (she may even put you in touch with the owner). All I can say from a "customer" point of view is that the new location is totally awesome!!! Best of luck with your decision.
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UTC quote
I like your "intimate" showroom, but it would be nice to have a MC/scooter parts and accessory shop with a good selection in the TO area.

Don't lose that "Family Business" feel and you'll do great.
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UTC quote
Bigger is better!
Bigger is better, ask my wife. Oops did I just say that out loud? Okay, seriously, if it was anyone but the Meyer's posting this I would have some reservations about making this recommendation. But in your case I don't see how intimate hasn't turned you into a lunatic. You guys are meant to grow and would make great use of the new space. The only unanswered is what will the economy do. So I'll take a break from my end of the world speeches and say that if any business would do at least sustainable business in a down economy it would be your dealership. And beside I know you guys are focused on parts and accessories right now and man would this give you some crazy great inspiration to deck out the place and become even more of a scooterist destination. But as a disclaimer I have found that I am usually wrong and again, I'm just a monkey in a jet airplane. Love you guys and good luck.
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UTC quote
+1 to jimc's thoughtout comments.

As a No Cal person your future store sounds like a dream and I'm jealous...and knowing how rent is I believe to go from 1000 to 5000 square feet with only doubling your rent, that sounds like a dream deal.

Good luck with whatever you choose. If I ever do a roadtrip o the scoot your way, I'd love to check out your locale either way.
OP
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UTC

Veni, Vidi, Posti
63 GS160 MK1 / GT60 / Sean Wotherspoon
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Veni, Vidi, Posti
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UTC quote
jimc wrote:
Here's an outsider to SoCal's POV, but from one who does have some inkling of the current climate.

If you have the capital to do it, and enough already in reserve to weather any 12-month downturn without borrowing (excessively), then do it. The next few months, perhaps two years, will favour the brave who stand with their own feet on the ground but are prepared to take some risk. You will expand into the extra room, don't doubt it.

My personal guess is that a lot of folk will be trying to think of all sorts of ways to reduce their daily expenditure and balance their budgets - using a scooter for single or two-person commuting has to be a sensible way of doing that. As long as you match the potential purchaser to the ride that suits them (and some should be dissuaded from riding altogether) rather than the sale that suits you, then you should do well.

Again, if you have the capital, build up a decent parts inventory - this will save much frustration not just of customers but also of your engineers - if they need a caliper pin kit make sure there is one on the shelf.

At the end of the day it's the quality of service (both personal and mechanical) that will keep loyal customers coming back year after year, not how big or glossy the showroom is - but maybe Piaggio can help out with the 'glossy' side of things?

Enough rambling from me - I'm delighted some are spotting opportunities in the present uncertain times.
Thanks Jim, very good information indeed. Keep it coming.

SDG
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Veni, Vidi, Posti
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UTC quote
Re: Bigger is better!
Kevynwriter wrote:
Bigger is better, ask my wife. Oops did I just say that out loud? Okay, seriously, if it was anyone but the Meyer's posting this I would have some reservations about making this recommendation. But in your case I don't see how intimate hasn't turned you into a lunatic. You guys are meant to grow and would make great use of the new space. The only unanswered is what will the economy do. So I'll take a break from my end of the world speeches and say that if any business would do at least sustainable business in a down economy it would be your dealership. And beside I know you guys are focused on parts and accessories right now and man would this give you some crazy great inspiration to deck out the place and become even more of a scooterist destination. But as a disclaimer I have found that I am usually wrong and again, I'm just a monkey in a jet airplane. Love you guys and good luck.
I have done some number crunching and if we do this we will need Kevynwriter to purchase 26.3 more scooters from us a year and we will be "good to go".

Seriously thanks Kevin, appreciate the time to write about it as I do the other posters.

Happy T-Day

David
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UTC quote
echoing Jim's comments, some additional "constructive feedback" from a business and consumer standpoint. Putting my MBA to work.

* Bigger is only better if customer service, and attention to detail isn't sacrificed.
* Take a close look at "competitive analysis" (threat of new entrants) and
expanding market share possibilities (is there room for continued growth in the current market).
* Oil prices: With oil at below average prices, how will this impact future consumer demand for scooters?
* Substitute means of transportation: will the future electric plug in mini, and other electric/hybrid cars erode scooter sales? If so, how fast?

In short;
Will this new strategy of expansion payoff and if so how quickly will you recoup costs and turn a profit? Or, in the short run will growth flatline, will lower oil prices and threat of new entrants or substitute goods erode growth and sales?

Other thoughts to come....

Best of luck and have a great holiday.
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....
⚠️ Last edited by reverend on UTC; edited 1 time
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UTC quote
David, Linda,

Only you know what your bottom line currently is, and we can all expect things to be a little tougher in the foreseeable future. Petroleum futures are down, so the average idiot consumer doesn't feel the burden to conserve gasoline. The economy is tanking for the next two years (possibly less depending on the actions of the new administration, hopefully not longer, or we're all in a world of hurt). Vespa scooters, even though they are the best, are for the most part a discretionary purchase, so don't be surprised with fewer sales next year if the economy continues to falter. Add to that going into winter. Yeah, Southern California winters are pretty benign by world climatic standards, but there is still the psychological effect of "winter". After that is the rainy season, and let us all hope we get a few inches this year. You can see where you're headed for the next quarter. You have enough history to map these seasonal trends.

As to your current shop...you have always given me the service that I desired and needed. You always had at least one bike of each model that you had in inventory on display. That was enough for me to determine if it would fit my needs (and physical size). The bikes I wanted to see, you didn't have in stock.

However, one area that I would have liked to be a physically larger display is the accessory area. Not too big of an issue because you made me feel comfortable wandering around the shop and I was able to examine the windshields and front racks in your "stock room" (interior bike storage room next to the workshop).

I'd bet your service techs want a larger work area. They only have about 120-150 square feet now for the two bays. They really need at least twice that.

Bottom line...It's really your decision, determined if you can financially afford the extra expense. Personally, I go to you for you yourself and your employees...not or what building you are using.

-----

Best solution I can offer you is to come to the Antelope Valley. Rents are a whole lot less expensive here and I won't have to ride eighty-five miles one-way to visit you.

Good luck with your decision. Are we gonna have another "party"?
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There is a motorcycle shop close to me that recently "went large". I used to love going into that place ... lots of personal service, family atmosphere. All that was lost in the additional square footage. All but one of the fomer employee's have flown the coop, and they had all been there for years before the move. Oddly enough, the parts department suffered the most. I really miss the old place. Malcolm Smith's is another place I can think of that kind of lost it's charm when it expanded. No doubt the new place is grand, though. I wonder if it is possible to have the best of both worlds ... bigger profits and the small shop atmosphere that people seem to like. Still, a business has to grow ...
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UTC quote
Do you "have" to continue to market Moto Guzzi? That's taking disproportionate amount of square footage in relation to how many you sell.
OP
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Veni, Vidi, Posti
63 GS160 MK1 / GT60 / Sean Wotherspoon
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volosong wrote:
Do you "have" to continue to market Moto Guzzi? That's taking disproportionate amount of square footage in relation to how many you sell.
Great question Steven.....

We don't "have to" do anything including keeping Moto Guzzi however I would not ever get rid of this awesome motorcycle line. Its in my blood, there is a long Italian heritage behind these and they make me "complete".

In addition selling Moto Guzzi's won me a new Ford truck this year, haha, if we had sold the amount of Vespa's that we sold Moto Guzzi's I wouldn't of gotten a new Ford truck, I would of got fired. Razz emoticon

Great stuff.

SDG
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SDG wrote:
...In addition selling Moto Guzzi's won me a new Ford truck this year, haha, if we had sold the amount of Vespa's that we sold Moto Guzzi's I wouldn't of gotten a new Ford truck, I would of got fired. Razz emoticon

Great stuff.

SDG
Hey, got an idea. Just heard on a podcast put out by Clark Howard (consumer advocate out of Atlanta) that Ford started "employee pricing" on their entire line...except for the F-150. That means that the F-150 is still selling well. So...sell the F-150 and use the money for your increased rent. That should last you a few years. Laughing emoticon
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UTC quote
I'd extend most of the same thoughts Alice has. If you can make up for the doubled rent with sales, then of course all is good. Given the economic forecast, I'd think long and hard about that (which I'm sure you already have).

Personally, I'd rather you and your business be around for the long term in a smaller shop if it makes you less vulnerable to the gloomy outlook. Then again, I don't gamble in casinos, do have too many liquid assets/cash reserves (according to my financial advisor), triple check to see if I locked the door or turned off the stove and ride Toreador Pants religiously. So, my opinion is one of the most conservative/chicken-shit you'll hear.
Alice wrote:
There is a motorcycle shop close to me that recently "went large". I used to love going into that place ... lots of personal service, family atmosphere. All that was lost in the additional square footage. All but one of the fomer employee's have flown the coop, and they had all been there for years before the move. Oddly enough, the parts department suffered the most. I really miss the old place. Malcolm Smith's is another place I can think of that kind of lost it's charm when it expanded. No doubt the new place is grand, though. I wonder if it is possible to have the best of both worlds ... bigger profits and the small shop atmosphere that people seem to like. Still, a business has to grow ...
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UTC quote
The reason Vespa of Thousand Oaks is so successful is because of Dave, Lynda, and the entire staff. Many valid points have been brought up in this thread. An economic downturn is in progress. However, the additional space would offer many advantages. I wish you best of luck in the continued success of your business. See you in a couple of weeks for my GTS's first service.
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UTC quote
I visited you briefly last summer, and you have made the shop cozy and inviting.

Let's look at your opportunity from another angle. Think about the pros and cons of waiting another year to make the decision on the move. Would you be able to get out of your old lease then, or would you be locked in for longer? Is the new place a unique opportunity that is not likely to still be there next year in this tough economy?

Can you already negotiate a good deal now, or will you get a better deal in a year when landlords are hurting with more vacancies? Usually my crystal ball is tuned out, but right now it is working well, and I am sure that the general business environment will be worse in a year. That doesn't mean YOUR business will be worse, just that you may get a better rent deal then.

If you think you have a unique opportunity now that won't be there next winter, then do it and don't look back. But if not, I'd wait.
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UTC quote
Stay where you are
I visited your store 2 months ago and bought a Corazzo jacket. You are far smaller than my local Vespa dealer (Marina del Rey) by sqft, but you have more bikes and more accessories. I would have bought goggles if you had them, but your selection was limited in that department.

What scooter sales did you not get because your place was too small? I doubt many. So, going to a larger place will not necessarily translate into increased sales.

I vote you stay put and gently increase Vespa related lines that are 'hot'. Gloves, goggles, clothing.

Double your rent is a big number, you will most likely need more people if sales increase.

Ride out 2009 then evaluate.
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Dear David and Linda,

I've been in your store and admire your enthusiast atmosphere.

Couple of points: 1) You are situated in an area with relatively high per capita incomes. Passion purchases are likely to continue.

2) Used to work in a Harley Store. Owner made most money on service and the mark up in H-D accessories. I visited Scooter Bobby for a battery recently and impulse-purchased $300.00 worth of stuff.

High quality Vespa, Guzzi, Aprilia branded accessories will make you money.

I admire you guys. All the best!
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UTC quote
Like Colin said, as long as you have a couch that we can crash on when we invade your shop I say do it. Just make sure you bring the big screen with you.

Seriously? A person can only buy so many scooters. Really. I keep telling myself that. What we want now is a variety of accessories. Along with 4 scooters we need at least that many helmets and pairs of gloves. We want to be able to try the helmets and jackets on. We can't do that when there isn't the space for the inventory.

You said that you'd only be rolling out 8 bikes a day. My God, think about that. How long does it take you guys to set-up each day? I know, because I've sat in that cushy chair Colin mentioned and watched you roll them out!

Damn, I'm trying to be serious here. You guys are definitely in it for the long haul and you know that eventually you will outgrow 851 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. If you're in the financial position to do it now and it won't negatively impact your business (traffic flow, visability, atmosphere, etc.) I saw DO IT! And be sure to invite us to your grand opening celebration.

We love ya, man.
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UTC quote
I think I spotted a hint that a coffee machine would be good - a coffee machine (and a GOOD ONE) is essential!

It's not for wooing the new customers, or for placating those fretting over their 600mile first service - it's for the friends that will treat your place as a mate's place with free decent coffee, and each of them will pop in once or twice a week, often with some biccies or cakes (or even jam, don't go there...) and make the place look busy even when it really isn't. Plus you then offer your new punter a decent coffee (with friend donated Danish) and they are yours for life.

New premises? Do NOT be mean with the bike lifts - if the GP800 comes out there you want the biggest and best there is, and it pays back remarkably quickly in efficient work. Also get in all sorts of extra bottle jacks etc - oh but you know all this...

[leaves stage right mumbling in beard]
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UTC quote
Jimc is a smart DoOd
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UTC quote
Happy Thanksgiving to you and Lynda.

Manny
⚠️ Last edited by snapshot05 on UTC; edited 1 time
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UTC quote
jimc wrote:
I think I spotted a hint that a coffee machine would be good - a coffee machine (and a GOOD ONE) is essential!
The busiest bike shop in Portland is called River City Bikes. I worked there when they first opened. One of the things they did that I believe helped them become very well known was on weekends they would hire the hottest women to make coffee drinks for the customers. They actually installed a small bar near the entry door so each person that came in would see a beautiful young lady making a coffee for customers. I wish I had a picture for you.

It was a great PR coup because nobody else in Portland was doing it and the word spread like wildfire. Are there any super hot women in Thousand Oaks?

Just a thought! Good luck and let me know when she shows up my coffee is getting cold.
OP
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Veni, Vidi, Posti
63 GS160 MK1 / GT60 / Sean Wotherspoon
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UTC quote
bendcyclist wrote:
jimc wrote:
I think I spotted a hint that a coffee machine would be good - a coffee machine (and a GOOD ONE) is essential!
The busiest bike shop in Portland is called River City Bikes. I worked there when they first opened. One of the things they did that I believe helped them become very well known was on weekends they would hire the hottest women to make coffee drinks for the customers. They actually installed a small bar near the entry door so each person that came in would see a beautiful young lady making a coffee for customers. I wish I had a picture for you.

It was a great PR coup because nobody else in Portland was doing it and the word spread like wildfire. Are there any super hot women in Thousand Oaks?

Just a thought! Good luck and let me know when she shows up my coffee is getting cold.
Obviously you haven't met my wife Lynda.........

All along I thought it was me, haha.

Happy Thanksgiving all, thanks for the insightful thread so far.

Best,
SDG
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UTC quote
So a little update.....

Currently leaning towards "no", leaning towards all the spiritual indicators...

Current landlord is 2 days late getting back to me.........

Prospective landlord talks like he has the only building in America...

People dig our shop, cramped or not. We have been talking in the showroom also.........

Sales don't justify it as we are clearly in a downturn right now and we surely don't want to make decisions that jeaporize our long planned future.

Would need a really positive sign this week or this will be reviewed in the spring. We really appreciate your feedback on this, it literally has assisted us in this huge decision. Our MV friends are priceless, thank you so much.

David
VTO
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UTC

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The Hornet (GT200, aka Love Bug) and 'Dimples' - a GTS 300
Joined: UTC
Posts: 43656
Location: Pleasant Hill, CA
 
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@jimc avatar
The Hornet (GT200, aka Love Bug) and 'Dimples' - a GTS 300
Joined: UTC
Posts: 43656
Location: Pleasant Hill, CA
UTC quote
Oh for a crystal ball!

If it works now, OK. Two questions:

Do you get a back-log of service work, or can you normally accommodate a quick mechanical emergency without inconveniencing others? If the former, expand the service area, if the latter make sure the service side pays for itself.

Do you have enough room to display the basics of what you have? If so then great, a quick dive into some store-room or lock-up for a different size or shape of something isn't a bad thing. Fresh air and exercise and all that! However if there isn't enough room, customers feel cramped, then the showroom bit needs to grow.

Have you considered splitting the showroom and service areas? My dealer did this to much original dismay a year or so ago - it wound up being not a bad thing. He didn't poke his nose into the service folk's dealings too much, so productivity went up, and the showroom wasn't interrupted by requests for 'help'. Separation was about five miles. About the same recommended minimum distance for a youngster when moving from home...

Just a sideways slant - it's NOT a recommendation, as it might not work for you, but just a thought...
@bill_of_ojai avatar
UTC

Hooked
GTS300 Super
Joined: UTC
Posts: 217
Location: Ojai, CA
 
Hooked
@bill_of_ojai avatar
GTS300 Super
Joined: UTC
Posts: 217
Location: Ojai, CA
UTC quote
As an aside, one of the most fun motorcycle dealerships I've dealt with was a little mom and pop in Long Beach, CA. Can't remember the name just now, but I bought two BMW's from them in the 80's.

It was scruffy and cramped in the showroom and parts counter - half of the inventory was wheeled outside in the parking area.

The rear of the building was a little warehouse that housed the service department and in the center, a full-blown mighty Wurlitzer theatre organ.
The owners used to put out folding chairs on the weekends and give concerts in the service department!

It was a little family operation that made you want to support them.
@pudnrider avatar
UTC

Molto Verboso
2018 Piaggio Liberty - Gal
Joined: UTC
Posts: 1244
Location: Albuquerque, NM
 
Molto Verboso
@pudnrider avatar
2018 Piaggio Liberty - Gal
Joined: UTC
Posts: 1244
Location: Albuquerque, NM
UTC quote
I've never been to your shop, but I've read good things here. My first reaction to the question was, "NO!" Seems like you're leaning towards that, too. The economy seems pretty scary to me! Good luck, whatever your choice.
UTC

Addicted
Joined: UTC
Posts: 540
 
Addicted
Joined: UTC
Posts: 540
UTC quote
Hi David,

Sometimes it's not a good idea to rock the boat, you already have a good boat.

I wouldn't move into anything that I couldn't buy, renting is a lost enterprise, especially in the climate of SoCal these next few years.
@jimc avatar
UTC

Moderaptor
The Hornet (GT200, aka Love Bug) and 'Dimples' - a GTS 300
Joined: UTC
Posts: 43656
Location: Pleasant Hill, CA
 
Moderaptor
@jimc avatar
The Hornet (GT200, aka Love Bug) and 'Dimples' - a GTS 300
Joined: UTC
Posts: 43656
Location: Pleasant Hill, CA
UTC quote
He's renting at the moment I believe. Renting premises is about the only sensible 'credit' a business needs - the outlay is about the same as a mortgage, and it is for a fixed time (usually a year) and known cost, so you can make a sound business plan. That's *can* mark you, not *will*.
@geet60 avatar
UTC

Hooked
Vespa GT 60/ 54 Vespa ACMA / 06 GT200
Joined: UTC
Posts: 117
Location: USA
 
Hooked
@geet60 avatar
Vespa GT 60/ 54 Vespa ACMA / 06 GT200
Joined: UTC
Posts: 117
Location: USA
UTC quote
Take emotion out of the equation
Before you make a move that drastically increases your overhead look at your current space. Talk to your landlord about improvements and rent incentives. Look at the numbers from car dealerships and motorcycle dealerships. Things are tough right now.

If you take Harley as an example they make the majority of their money from accessories and financing. They also own 46% of the American motorcycle market. I can only say this anecdotally but I suspect that we Vespa owners are not financially solvent as Harley owners. There are doesn't seem to be the same level of high end accessories associated with Vespa.

How many more sales would you have to have, to cover your increased overhead?

Why are you not getting those sales now?

What specifics would you have to do to achieve those sales and how much would that cost? Advertising, increased inventory etc.

This is just off the top of my head stuff. If you'd like I could find
some relevant case studies and market info for you through my work.
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