Once Upon a Time . . .
Once upon a time there were two business owners named Dan and Stan. Although there are some basic similarities between both men and their individual companies, this story illustrates how differently each approached the marketing and branding for their businesses and how their respective decisions produced vastly different growth outcomes.
First, let’s start with some background information. Dan and Stan each run their own Paintless Dent Repair (PDR) shops. Whenever a hailstorm hits in the area, both men get busy removing dents from their customers’ cars by “massaging” out the dents without affecting the original paint and finishes of the vehicles…a valuable service that saves customers time and money.
Many New Businesses Start Out With Limited Cash Reserves
When they first opened their doors five years ago, Dan and Stan were like many start-ups: limited cash reserves that were allocated to expenses such as specialized equipment, rent, utilities, insurance, etc.
When Dan started his business, the term “storm chaser” had somewhat of a nice ring to it. While he couldn’t take credit for creating the storms, he was definitely not opposed to making a great living because of them. Convinced this was the perfect, needs-based recurring opportunity – which was covered by most people’s insurance – Dan saw his business as a “build it and they will come to ME!” opportunity. To save some money, Dan felt he could put together his own logo and he hired a college kid to build his website. Although he knew everything about PDR, Dan admitted he knew nothing about branding a company. “How hard could it be?” he thought.
But Some Entrepreneurs Also Start With a Plan!
Stan, on the other hand, saw things differently. He heard that other PDR shops were opening up around town. “With more competition,” he thought, “I have to find a way to stand out…to be recognized and remembered by people so when the next storm hits, my company is the one everyone will remember and then come to me. Besides, some day I’d like to grow, perhaps add another shop or two…maybe even franchise my PDR business all over the state.” Although his vision seemed far off in the future, Stan decided to plan for it now. He figured this would help save money in the long run by avoiding costly re-dos and confusion down the road. Like Dan, Stan knew everything about PDR, but all things being equal, Stan understood that a well-developed brand would give him the competitive edge he needed to grow his business.
Stan performed his due dilligence: he asked around and searched online for reputable branding companies. He looked through each company’s work and called references. After meeting with a few, Stan found a branding team he liked a lot. He felt comfortable with them, asked them questions, expressed his opinions, and shared his dream. He felt they understood his vision and had the ability to create a strong brand for him that would reach larger audiences and build greater value in his company. With only start-up resources, they were also willing to work within Stan’s budget by spreading the work out over time so as not to strain his finances. Stan’s branding team researched his competition and discovered hidden opportunities they could take advantage of. They developed a strategy that would align with Stan’s short-term and long-term goals and designed an exciting, eye-catching brand and messaging that held peoples’ attention, stood out from his competition, and represented the values of his company perfectly. They also created a website with internet marketing capabilities that targeted the types of customers Stan was seeking and introduced special offers to convert website visitors into customers – all the things that Stan knew he needed but didn’t have a clue how to go about doing.
Others Wish They Built a Solid Foundation
Fast forward a couple of years, Dan was exhausted from running his business and trying to do business development simultaneously. No matter how hard he worked, Dan was getting by but he sure didn’t feel like he was getting ahead. What he thought would be an easy, cash cow business turned out to be the financial equivalent of working for someone else – except he had all of the headaches and sleepness nights of being a business owner.
Stan’s well branded business grew exponentially and not long after, his vision became a reality. His strong, consistent brand not only got the attention of customers, but also franchise buyers. People recognized and appreciated the powerful qualities that Stan’s brand stood for: credibility, trust, quality work, and professionalism. They wanted to be a part of his success. As a result, Stan opened up several franchise shops and the rest is success history.
Pay Now — Or Pay Later!
The moral of this story? Stan acted on his dream and understood that a strong brand would become the most valuable (and visible) asset of his business. As for Dan, the term “storm chaser” no longer holds the allure it once had. Word has it he still runs that one-man shop with hopes of selling it…someday.