Almost two years ago, David Bryan took a risk in a down-market and opened a new showroom in a high-traffic area in nearby Amherst. “This year will be a telling year,” says the president of Blackdog Builders, noting that 2011 will reflect a full year of sales at that location.
The company’s main Salem showroom has five designers, including Bryan. The Amherst showroom has a manager, one administrative person, a commissioned salesperson, and a production team (relocated from Salem).
Amherst manager Amy McNamara, previously the Salem showroom manager, designed the refit of the showroom and runs it on a tight budget. “I’m giving her a share of the profit, which is currently theoretical,” Bryan says. Though demanding, the work allows McNamara to try something outside of sales and to make more money. “It’s a great opportunity to reward an employee to be more and to do more,” Bryan says.
Purchase & Investment
$40,000: Cost of finished showroom from the previous cabinet company tenant, including existing displays, computers, software, copiers, a phone system, and a truck.
$25,000: Cost to modify the building. “If we did this in five years, we’re looking at $250,000 to get it off the ground to build up. That’s not even comparable,” owner David Bryan says.
He is using a cable TV campaign, home shows, newspaper inserts, and consumer seminars to promote the new showroom, and is encouraged by the amount of name recognition Blackdog had during a recent home show.
But in addition to financial considerations, Bryan worries that the new location will dilute his energy and focus — he spends one day a week in Amherst to support the staff there. Though he intellectually understood the costs associated with the new venture, he says it’s still tough to have debt in a lean time. He says that it’s still too soon to tell if the new showroom was a good move, but adds, “This year we have a decent opportunity to break even.”