Like countless business owners across the country, Allison and Tyler Rogers have faced a challenging 2020. However, through resilience and experience, the Rogers have been able to keep providing their community with high-quality, gently used items throughout the pandemic.
The Minnesota-based multi-unit franchisees, with two Once Upon A Child® stores and a Plato’s Closet® location, have leveraged retail industry know-how and an incredible management team to put themselves in a position of strength despite the obstacles this year has brought.
They’ve adjusted the way they’ve managed their stores, kept a consistent focus on continuing to buy and stock up their inventory and made social media a key marketing channel.
Adapting to New Challenges due to COVID-19
Along with their Plato’s Closet location in Rochester, Minnesota, Tyler and Allison own two Once Upon A Child locations – one in Burnsville, Minnesota, and the other in the same shopping center as their Plato’s Closet. As multi-unit, multi-brand owners, Tyler and Allison had to quickly adapt each brand to different operations when the pandemic hit in early March.
Before becoming a franchisee, Tyler spent more than five years as a store and district manager for a national clothing retail brand. The combination of his previous retail management experience, along with the support of Winmark and the franchisee peer network, has helped him lead his teams more effectively prior to and during the pandemic.
He and his wife took over their stores from previous franchisees and have made a concerted effort to be in their stores regularly to build strong relationships with their employees, ensure brand standards are being followed and establish their own leadership styles. This has helped take some of the pressure off the store managers and other team members, who are able to redirect their focus on providing great customer service, increasing in-store traffic and improving sales performance. At the same time, Tyler encourages his employees to embrace their own style when they’re working – bucking the conventions that many retailers hold to in mandating very specific clothing styles on the sales floor.
“With our Plato’s Closet location, we saw buys get cut in half – which is why we had to push the ‘buy, buy, buy’ messaging. We had our lowest inventory in four years,” said Tyler. “We relied on our social media, passed out flyers and buying policy handouts while customers were in the store – whereas our Once Upon A Child locations were up in buys.”
Tyler and Allison shifted their strategy to an online platform, which helped them retain as much of their staff as possible while they navigated the pandemic’s impact on their business.
And instead of letting the challenges of COVID impact their store operations, Tyler and Allison embraced their enhanced safety and sanitation protocols and worked hard to keep business as normal as possible. Each year, the Rogers host one big shopping event with the new school year in mind. This year being different more than most, they decided to break up the annual initiative into mini events every Saturday throughout August. To ensure social distancing guidelines and capacity regulations were in place, the Rogers even rolled out racks into the sidewalk. The first Saturday of the mini shopping event series exceeded their expectations and set the Rogers up for success for the rest of the month.
Engaging with the Community Through Social Media
Connecting with their community has played an essential role in the success of their Plato’s Closet® and Once Upon A Child® locations in Minnesota.
When Tyler and Allison bought their Plato’s Closet in April of 2016, they immediately began building up their social media presence. Initially, they had 150 followers on their Plato’s Closet Instagram page. Thanks to the creativity and enthusiasm of their store manager, they now have more than 2,300 followers – and growing.
“I can’t take even half the credit – our store manager is really the one who has owned social media management for our Plato’s Closet store,” said Tyler. “She holds people accountable and is consistently posting what we need or want to buy, mixed in with what we’re doing through videos and photos.”
Not only has Admira played a large role in revamping their social media presence and engaging with the community, but she’s also been a contributor to improving each of their stores. Tyler and Allison’s three Winmark franchises were purchased from existing owners, and the Rogers and their incredible management team have been able to turn them around and provide top-tier service to their customers. Building a strong management infrastructure is key to growing more stores which will allow Tyler and Allison to plan and prepare to expand their multi-unit portfolio within the Winmark network of resale franchises, recently requesting an additional franchise agreement for their next location.
Using Their Experience to Guide Future Franchise Growth
The Rogers and their team have weathered the pandemic better than expected and their stores have turned a corner in recent months. They saw a 70% rise in sales in September at their Once Upon A Child location in Burnsville and are currently up 40% in October. With a positive outlook on the horizon, Tyler and Allison are not only able to re-hire and recruit the employees they need, but also look forward to adding a fourth store to their franchise portfolio.
“We’ve been able to own three businesses during COVID – and see it as a massive win,” explained Tyler. “From what we’ve seen this year, we decided to submit our application for an additional Once Upon A Child location to open in 2021.”
While operating any business has been difficult throughout the lasting impacts of the pandemic, Tyler and Allison have proven that continuing to engage with the community and a strong management team by their side can create numerous opportunities to succeed.
Are you ready to use your retail and business experience to open one of our resale franchises? Download one of our franchise brochures today!