So after writing for the smoke/vape shop industry for so long, I decided to open my own shop. Piece of cake yeah? Well, not so much. I’ll save the boring stuff and jump right into my top 5 list for the MOST IMPORTANT things to make your shop succeed.
Location is the #1 factor that's going to make or break your store. I’m lucky enough to be on a main street in Denver with very high foot traffic, so as soon as we opened the doors, we had customers. In a bad location? Offer a delivery service, market the sh%t out of your store, and offer deals worth driving to.
2. Customer Service
Getting people in your shop is hard enough, don’t let garbage customer service be the reason they never come back. The smallest thing like remembering your customers name can be the difference between them shopping with you once a week for years, or never coming back at all.
3. Stocking The Shop
If someone comes in for something, you better have it, or at least a damn good alternative. If you aren’t carrying something, and the shop down the street does, your customers aren’t going to waste their time giving you a second chance to see if you got it in stock. You got one shot with customers to meet their needs, don’t blow it by being stingy on your product line, carry every flavor of all the best vapes, every smoking accessory, every time of bong, pipe, bowl piece, dab stuff, etc. It’s expensive up front, but makes an enormous difference in branding and customer satisfaction. This is something I HEAVILY need to work on. If a customer asks for something you don't have, say you're getting it in in a week or two, and place your order for it ASAP. So much stuff you'd never even think of could be thousands more of profit every month.
4. Knowledgeable Staff
This is tricky because this industry is a fire hydrant of information that never stops flowing. You need to have an answer to customer questions. If you don’t know your sh%t about what you’re selling, a customer won’t trust you with their business. This was a major learning curve for me, as not only did I realize how much I DIDN’T know, but that some of this stuff is so niche and hard to even find info on, it sometimes needs some of these awkward customer interactions in order for you to even know what you’re supposed to learn. Know your stuff.
Google/yelp/apple map reviews are worth their weight in GOLD as they make your shop easier to find when someone looks up “smoke shop near me”, incentivize your customers to leave them (25% off, spin the wheel for a prize, etc.). Put bright neon signs in your windows that say “Vape”, “Kratom”, “Glass Pipes”. Hand out coasters to local bars with your shop's info, they take them every time. You need to be active on social media as well, posting deals consistently. If everyone doesn’t know what and where your shop is, you are leaving tons of money on the table.
If you do half of these things right, you’ll be fine, if you crush them all, you’re gonna kill it. I know shops that do 300k/month with 150k profit by nailing down these things (and a little more obviously). Whether you’re brand new to the scene or an OG in the space, following this list can dramatically increase your stores revenue.
Now go make that fkin money baby.