Three Things to Know to Start a Successful School Store
Vol. 17 No. 10
Starting or managing your school store can be a large undertaking. What items should you sell? How do you price them? Should you have a physical location or offer items exclusively online? How do you market your inventory? Will people actually buy? Which department should manage the store?
These questions and more may run through your head as you contemplate potential customers—your students, parents, faculty, and staff.
You’re not alone. Many private-independent school administrators have questions when it comes to running a successful school store. To provide assistance, Jerry Chambers, BCP-E, ISM Consultant, and the Chief Financial Officer at The First Academy, recently hosted a webinar titled “10 Things to Know to Start a Successful School Store.”
He shared many firsthand tips from his experiences starting a school store in 2009, when sales totaled $6,000, to bringing in over $200,000 from sales in 2016.
We’re sharing some of his advice below. For his full presentation on branding, managing inventory, tips for driving foot traffic, the best software systems, and more, watch the webinar on-demand here.
Learn from others. When it comes to your school store, learn from what others have accomplished. Don’t be afraid to visit other local school stores in person, and look online to see what similar schools do. Many leaders don’t mind sharing what they’ve learned, and what has worked and not worked for them. Also consider college websites for ideas and inspiration.
Start small. Don’t attempt to offer a ton of products across different categories when you’re first starting. Select one item that’s easy to create and has mass appeal. See how it performs, make follow-up decisions accordingly, and continue to grow.
Develop a five-year business plan. A business plan is crucial. Where are you starting? What are your long-term goals? What products do you want to offer? Create this plan and follow it to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Watch the full webinar on starting a successful school store here for tips on employee management, selecting the right items to sell, brand equity, and more.
Additional ISM resources:
The Source for Business and Operations Vol. 10 No. 3 Virtual Bookstores