Before owning a Play It Again Sports® store, California-based franchisee Al Silva had a career at Boeing working on aircrafts. Boeing later asked him to relocate his family, which Silva did not want to do. Instead, he decided to open up his own business. After doing thorough research, he decided to open up a Play It Again Sports in 1996.
Although Silva has been successful in his business for over 20 years, business ownership is not without its hardships. He became familiar with such obstacles from 2004 to 2006, when the plaza where his store was located went through a complete renovation. The parking lot in front of his store was a torn-up construction site, filled with bulldozers, fences and workers.
The construction deterred customers who either thought Silva’s store was closed or simply didn’t know how to navigate the site. This also put a significant financial burden on Silva and his store, but he and his wife were determined to keep Play It Again Sports open. By keeping a positive outlook, providing great customer service and getting support from the Winmark corporate team, they were able to help their business thrive.
Keeping Things in Perspective
During the two-year period when Silva’s store experienced a drop in customers, it was essential for Silva to focus on the things within his business he could control. He maintained a positive outlook on the situation and tried to keep in mind that the construction was only temporary.
He leaned on the support system of the good employees he had hired and made sure to delegate daily responsibilities to them.
“At my store, I’ve had the privilege of working side-by-side with managers who are a few of the greatest people,” said Silva. “They’ve made it easier to go into work with our heads held high and ready to grind, even in hard times.”
Focus on High-Quality Customer Service
Excellent customer service was always part of Silva’s business plan, but it became even more important during construction to continue providing great support. He made sure to keep open communication with locals, listening to their feedback and needs and incorporating these into his business. Silva used Yelp and Craigslist to get exposure for his inventory, while also embracing social media to keep an avenue of two-way communication with customers. By leaning on his company’s reputation of great customer service and constantly looking for ways to improve, Silva was able to make his business a key player in his community’s sporting needs.
Support from Winmark Corporation
Silva leveraged Winmark’s network of franchise owners for any help and advice they could offer. He reached out to them to see if they encountered a similar situation and how they were able to overcome it. Winmark corporate also made sure Silva had all the support he needed in order to keep his store successful. They visited his store several times throughout the year and provided him with technological support and advertising promotions to help attract customers.
Silva was able to keep his business alive and successful during the two-year construction period, when it would have been much easier to just walk away. Since then, Silva’s success has only continued to build. His store received the Growth Achievement award from Winmark last year, and he saw his annual gross revenue surpass $700,000. With support from Winmark and his employees, as well as his own persistence and business acumen, Silva has made his Play It Again Sports a mainstay in his community.
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