Top tips for successfully launching a new shop
20th January 2012
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Located on George Street, Saffron Walden, Modish was an existing business when local entrepreneur and self-confessed shoe-a-holic, Sarah Decent took over the independent shoe shop.


Brand new to retail, she kept the relaunch low key; however, now with a shoe shop that was recently named as one of the top 100 shoe shops in the Guardian Shopping Directory, there was no reason to act the wallflower when she decided to launch a new shop in Cambridge!


As Sarah explains, “Planning, asking others and speaking to experts proved to be invaluable! I had already employed Clare Rayner as my retail guru, so she was my first port of call, and together, we worked on Draft 1 of a project plan, alongside one of Clare’s contacts, Becki Rowe from Retail Marketing Maxim.


Armed with expert advice and information, and feeling more confident about the challenge ahead, Sarah set herself a deadline of opening Modish Cambridge only seven days after signing the lease! The one saving grace was that the shop only needed minimal work to get it looking great but she was asking a lot of herself and her team.


However, by putting time, effort and a lot of hard work in, she managed to meet her deadline, which also had a positive financial impact on the business, as she wasn’t having to pay rent on a shop that was lying dormant and not trading.


It was exhausting yet exhilarating, but although it was stressful, because Sarah had a plan, she knew exactly what she was doing and when it had to be done.


Here are her top tips for a successful business launch:


  • Get advice before you start, either from a retail expert or another shop owner who has held a launch that you attended and enjoyed


  • When refitting a shop, try to book people who can be flexible if dates have to move


  • Make setting up the phone line and internet your biggest priority! It’s simple – without a telephone line, you can’t install your PDQ machine, so unless you want to be dusting off your manual card machine and digging around for credit card slips...

  • Knowledge is power – talk to your letting agent and any shop-owners you can to find out if there are any ‘quirks’ in the area. For example, it was only when Sarah spoke to local retailers that she realised that she had to give the council eight weeks’ notice to put up signage and that Sunday was the only day she could freely move her stock!


  • Be charming! You are going to need a lot of help and the more friendly you are, the more likely you’re going to get it

  • Keep it simple – don’t overcomplicate things; you’ll probably only need a simple Excel spreadsheet for your plans. The important thing is to have deadlines against each item or action and that you regularly review and update it to ensure that things are getting done.


  • Make sure you have a contingency plan – try to have a Plan B for those important items on your project plan in case anything goes wrong. Plus, it pays to actually print off a list of useful telephone numbers in case disaster strikes and the power goes off – you don’t want to be stuck with a huge ‘to-do’ list and a completely useless computer that contains all the information.


  • And finally, launch with a bang! Sarah believes that the best decision she made was to employ actors to dress up as characters from the Wizard of Oz on the day of the launch. She got lots of free publicity, takings on the opening day were superb and customers of Modish were still talking about it months later!


Modish can be found at 15 George Street, Saffron Walden, CB10 1EW and 3 Green Street, Cambridge CB2 3JU.

About the Author

Ian M

Member since: 10th July 2012

I've been running The Best of Bishop's Stortford since 2010 and I'm passionate about supporting all things local. In particular, we work hard to showcase the best local businesses who give the area it's...

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