Retail and Wholesale Trade

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This is a graph illustrating when fixed plus variable costs equal business revenue. That is, you neither lost or made any money on that volume for that product or service. Usually this calculation is shown as a graph but numbers of units and dollars are shown on the grid.

Every startup existing company must balance costs with revenues or they will lose money. This calculation, using an Excel formula, will calculate when a certain volume of sales will equal your fixed and variable costs.  The variable costs are the cost per unit of volume. Most business plans will show this calculation.

SCORE Mentor Advices French Corner Antiques

In 1987, Guy and Daniele Veroli moved from Paris to suburban Philadelphia and established French Corner Antiques. Regular buying trips to their homeland helped the couple keep their store stocked with rare and unique items for their many loyal customers. The Verolis were also smart business people, and understood the benefits of periodically reexamining their business strategy.

 

With the lease on their store set to expire in July 2002, the couple began thinking about taking the store in a distinctly different direction. Because so many of their customers lived outside the area, there was no pressing need for a brick-and-mortar location or regular business hours. E-commerce, on the other hand, posed some intriguing possibilities that would benefit both the Verolis and their customers. They also had the advantage of an existing Web site, and a Paris-based son who could help with design and maintenance.

My Location
Philadelphia PA
United States
Year Company Formed
2002
What's Great About My Mentor?

“Ed has been a wonderful resource. There has not been a question that he couldn’t answer. It’s amazing that these qualified individuals provide their time and knowledge for no cost.”

—Daniele Veroli, co-owner, French Corner Antiques

How SCORE Helped

But many questions remained about the idea, including whether it would work at all. At the suggestion of a friend, the Verolis visited SCORE’s Web site in January 2002 and registered for email counseling. They were soon matched with Ed Piekarz, a retired executive living in Sarasota, FL. Communicating entirely via email, Ed and the Verolis worked through the many technical requirements necessary to move the business to the Internet, as well as mixing “conventional” and online strategies to retain their customer base.

The transition would not be easy. Guy and Daniele would need access to the site while in the U.S. and on their buying trips to France. There were also a host of design and maintenance issues to consider, as well as ensuring the security and reliability of online payment systems. But despite the complexities of distance, language and technology, the Verolis had everything in place to make the leap into cyberspace on June 8, 2002—Bastille Day, and the day the lease of the retail store expired. The couple marked the occasion with an Open House and the formal debut of their new e-commerce site.

The Verolis have not abandoned the “real world” of retail altogether. They have rented space in a local multi-dealer antiques store, and are exploring similar opportunities elsewhere on the East Coast. “We’re still experimenting and evaluating to find the right combination for our business,” Daniele says, “but the opportunities of the Internet are very exciting.”

Guy and Daniele also keep in touch with Ed Piekarz, particularly as they explore new options, such as the potential use of Internet portals to increase their visibility.

This business plan is a generic model suitable for all types of businesses. However, you should modify it to suit your particular circumstances.

“Ultimate Business Planner” is a Windows based software tool that significantly eases the burden of writing a formal business plan. It guides you through each business-planning step quickly and easily.

“Ultimate Business Planner” is a Windows based software tool that significantly eases the burden of writing a formal business plan. It guides you through each business-planning step quickly and easily.

Though my wholesale building supply business is profitable, I can’t help feeling we’re not operating up to our potential. As the company’s leader, what can I do to give us the needed push?

Edogz FInds Success Using SCORE as a Resource

Wendy Supino readily admits that as an entrepreneur, she’s been lucky.  And that’s what concerned her. A commercial real estate broker, Wendy established edogz.com in 2000 as a side business to serve as an online “Yellow Pages” for businesses and consumers who shared her love of dogs.  Always fascinated by the animal instinct for smell, she hit upon the idea for Stuff ‘n Sniff Companion Pals®, a toy that would double as a security blanket and training aid.

Owner/Founder
Wendy Supino
My Location
Lake Mary FL
United States
Year Company Formed
1998
My Successes

By incorporating a pocket for a sock or other item with the owner’s scent, the Stuff ‘n Sniff comforts the dog when the owner is away, and during a boarding or hospital stay.  It also helps newly adopted dogs adjust to their new families and surroundings, and gives puppies a chewing alternative to shoes and furniture.
   
Wendy located an overseas manufacturer who crafted some sample Stuff ‘n Sniff toys based on digz, her edogz.com mascot.  Virtually overnight, Wendy found herself in the manufacturing business when Stuff ‘n Sniff’s debut at the 2006 Global Pet Expo won 2nd place in the dog category.  Other awards and a segment on Good Morning America helped heighten interest in the product.  Wendy soon was scrambling to handle production, marketing and distribution issues, all while maintaining her real estate career.

“It’s amazing that I managed to do so much without a business plan,” Wendy says.  “It was only my experience in other business areas that helped me slide through.  There’s no way that I could have done it without any entrepreneurial experience.”

An opportunity to appear on MSNBC’s “Your Business” elevator pitch segment proved just how lucky Wendy was.  One of the elevator “riders” who listened to Wendy’s presentation on Stuff ‘n Sniff was SCORE CEO Ken Yancey.

“I had never heard of SCORE, but it didn’t take long for me to realize they offered exactly what I needed—a mentor who could help me with all these challenges,” Wendy says.

Wendy is confident that Stuff ‘n Sniff is on the right track.  She’s developing a multi-national dealer network to distribute digz and a new character, darbz, to pet stores, boarding facilities, and veterinarian clinics.  She also has formed an alliance with Animal Planet to advertise Stuff ‘n Sniff on the network’s PetsIncredible DVD “Training Your Adopted Dog,” which will be distributed to 10,000 selected shelters and rescue groups across the country.

What's Great About My Mentor?

A follow-up call to Ken Yancey put Wendy in contact with Orlando SCORE mentors Bob Shephard and Dr. Jan Mangos.  They helped her learn about business plans and SBA lending opportunities, the nuances of overseas manufacturing and export labeling, and the steps required to properly brand and safeguard her product logos and messages. 

SCORE also connected Wendy with another small business that crafted her Stuff ‘n Sniff press kit.  Dr. Jan also invited her to participate in an MBA class at Everest University, where students could provide more focused help on Stuff ‘n Sniff marketing issues.

“Bob and Dr. Jan are great mentors,” Wendy says.  “If they don’t know something, they know somebody who does.   And www.score.org is great too.  There are so many templates, incredible tools, and articles written by experts who are willing to share their ideas and advice.”

How SCORE Helped

“I hope that SCORE will be a part of Stuff ‘n Sniff’s growth, and that in years to come, I can return the favor by being a SCORE mentor myself,” Wendy says.  “As a small business start-up, there’s no better place to find great resources and people to talk to.  You simply can’t beat SCORE.”

Due Farina Relies on SCORE

What led friends Fabiana Rigamonti and Marina Rosin-Levine to become professional shoe designers?  “Easy,” says Fabiana, “we both love shoes.  We just never expected that they’d become our full-time careers.”

Owner/Founder
Fabiana Rigamonti and Marina Rosin-Levine
My Location
New York NY
United States
Year Company Formed
2003
My Successes

Indeed, Fabiana and Marina had other pursuits in mind when they met as students at Parsons School of Design. But as they experimented with their innovative designs, the idea of getting a foothold in footwear business became increasingly appealing. 

Calling their brand Due Farina, a fusion of their names and collaborative creative spirit, Fabiana and Marina began making shoes by hand in a tiny East Village apartment. When their design caught the attention of an editor at a top fashion magazine in 2005, Fabiana and Marina knew Due Farina was on the verge of taking an important step. They just wanted to be sure it was the right one.

“We saw the need to discipline our business,” explains Marina, whose husband Leon joined in to help with marketing. “Our business plan was vague, and it was essential that we hone in our niche to minimize competition. We didn’t have the resources to go up against the big shoe companies.”

Today, Due Farina is based in a large live-work loft in New York’s Williamsburg neighborhood.  The line is now sold in major stores and specialty stores around the world, and regularly gets all-important publicity thanks to the designers’ good relationships with influential accessory fashion editors.

“Our sales have reached the seven-digit mark and continue to grow,” Marina says.  “We’ve also attracted the interest of large shoe companies. Harry has referred us to other SCORE mentors who are helping us with negotiations.”

Regardless of what the future holds, Fabiana says that Due Farina will retain its small business perspective.  “The only way to keep going is by keeping our look unique,” she says.  “Harry’s knowledge of the industry has been so important for us to keep our designs distinctive, yet marketable.”

What's Great About My Mentor?

Fabiana and Marina had heard about SCORE, and contacted them for assistance.  They were referred to New York City SCORE mentor and fellow “shoe dog” Harry Dannenberg, who had more than 30 years of experience in shoe production and design for many leading apparel companies.

Harry first helped Fabiana and Marina identify the true strengths of their style. “His critiques were tough love sometimes, but he helped us build the line based on the aggressive aspects of our design,” Marina says. 

He also helped develop the business plan and strategy, set price points and find the best locations to produce the shoes.

“We initially began with a factory in Italy, which still does our high-end designs,” says Fabiana.  “Harry suggested we work with some factories in Brazil, which has lost a lot of business to China.  He guided us as we did our own sourcing there.” Due Farina has subsequently begun working with Chinese factories as well.

Perhaps most important, Dannenberg has helped Due Farina stay focused on its goals.  “We’re not dwelling on extraneous things, but rather on what needs to be done at each step,” Marina says.  “He also referred us to other SCORE mentors  when we needed help with other issues, such as accounting and evaluating venture capital partnerships.”

How SCORE Helped

“We love Harry, he’s like family,” Marina adds.  “And the good thing about SCORE is that you get better advice because it’s free. Consultants you pay for will often just tell you what you want to know.  Harry also tells us what we need to know.  That’s made all the difference.”

Osage Creek Log Furniture Succeeds By Using Advice From SCORE Mentor

Neil Martin & Carol Dillard met at the University of Arkansas and shared a dream of raising a family on a farm of their own. Graduating with degrees in agriculture, they bought 65 acres and began to put into practice the theories they had learned at college. With the primary income from cattle and a side business of berries, surely that would be a winning formula! Seven years later the dream had faded and the bills continued to mount. They contacted Northwest Arkansas SCORE in 2004, asking for guidance.

Owner/Founder
Neil Martin & Carol Dillard
My Location
Harrison AR
United States
Year Company Formed
1998
My Successes

Their family had grown with the addition of two boys, Clint and Ben, but their commitment to a self-supporting business only became stronger. During winter months, with outdoor tasks reduced, Neil turned to his woodworking hobby, building shelves, picture frames and mantles from local timber. Everything he built was promptly sold at craft shows, so in 1998 he and Carol made the decision to sell most of the cattle, abandon the berries and commit to building a full range of rustic cedar furniture.

Today you will find Neil busy in his farm buildings, creating one-of-a-kind cedar furniture while Carol hand-finishes every piece. The boys fetch and carry, sweep sawdust and perform their assigned chores, unaware that their parents are building a legacy that they may inherit. The phone rings constantly. “One day we’ll have a salesperson to take these calls,” quips Neil. They have rented a large, bright showroom on the main highway through Harrison, Arkansas where Neil’s sister Tonya helps out with sales. Rustic beds, polished dressers, corner cabinets and decorated floor lamps adorn the facility.

Mike says, “It’s just so chunky and so unique that it must be a winner. The drawers on those huge chests just glide out.”

In addition to their Harrison showroom, the Martins have created their own Web site, produced illustrated sales leaflets and printed promo cards to load into the local attractions racks in nearby tourist towns. They have experimented with radio commercials and Yellow Pages advertising. Neil can joke now that he is still a poor man, but at least he is in control of his business and can see light at the end of the tunnel!

What's Great About My Mentor?

At the first meeting with SCORE Mentors Woody Knight and Mike FitzPatrick, Neil explained that they were working seven days a week, selling everything, but still not showing a profit. “What’s going wrong?” he asked.

The bulk of their orders came through an Internet sales company that paid them wholesale prices, which then added a generous mark-up. Neil & Carol knew they could do a better sales job than simply listing on a Web site, but how to begin? Displays of their furniture would be the most powerful sales method. The smell and feel of fresh cedar captivates in ways that catalog pictures cannot.

But the Martins could not transport bedroom suites, kitchen cabinets, dining tables, chairs and lamps to all the craft fairs. During meetings with SCORE, new ideas were tossed around. Realistic market prices were established. Showroom options were explored and introductions were made to nearby banks, retail outlets and chambers of commerce.

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