Considering opening DFW area Overlanding Business

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Ben Cleveland

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So, I don't have any input for Dallas-specific market demand, locations etc. I have managed and opened stores in retail for a while though, and I have spent a lot of time working in niche industries. I have lots of thoughts on the retail industry, as someone who, for a long time, pursued their "dream career", and someone who has spent several years in upper management of a privately owned retail brand.

-Marketing, marketing, marketing. Not just social media marketing and having a large following. Those numbers can be impressive, but don't always equate to revenue growth. If you don't have a strong plan for building a brand, getting good market penetration in your immediate geographical area, and marketing across multiple platforms, your growth will be seriously limited.

-Having worked in my "passion" industry for a little while, I can tell you that often managing or owning a company in your passion industry does NOT equate to living your passion. What you've outlined is simply opening a retail store in a niche, trendy, super competitive, and incredibly fast-growing industry. A retail store is a retail store, and managing a retail store, your time will be largely taken up with:
-inventory management, sales projections, ordering and receiving shipments
-quickbooks, bills, performance assessments, and cashflow management
-relationship building and management for large customer accounts (IE the relationships that can actually cover a lot of your costs)
-hiring/training/HR/payroll/labor projections
-aesthetic management in store of displays, inventory rotation etc
-marketing and behind the scenes sales

In my experience, marketing by itself can easily take up 40 plus hours a week. If I were going to open up a company of my own in the retail market, I would work VERY HARD to find a couple of solid marketing and branding companies, and I would outsource almost ALL of my marketing to them. I also hate marketing, and I'm not incredibly talented at it. You might be really good at it and want to delegate out more of other things, keeping marketing in house. I don't believe there's a right and wrong way there, the big mistake I see often is that people simply undervalue marketing overall, and sell their business's short or even outright fail because of that.


Now. I just outlined what your time would be spent doing ONCE THE STORE IS OPEN. Opening a store initially is totally different. There your time would be spent on the following:
-funding/financing
-projecting first year performance/sales
-coordinating with architects, contractors, landlords and real estate brokers to: find a space, design the space, have a GC do your build out, and get it ready to be open for business.
-on-site management of a buildout-if you think your GC will do that for you, then you are mistaken. GC's manage the construction and the subs. If the owner/lessor isn't on site regularly, lots of things will go undone/much slower than needed/or simply be done very differently than how you wanted them.
-lining up reseller agreements (as you mentioned)
-initial hiring, team building, training, etc.
-pre-opening marketing to get the word out for a strong opening (literally can't stress this enough. I spent over 40 hrs a week for a while doing this, and it was barely enough).
-logistical planning and movement of opening inventory-Seems straightforward, but this plus marketing were the two things I spent the most of my time doing. No matter how much you plan, you'll end up getting pallets delivered to the space that's under construction, contractors who refuse to help you unload, having to move inventory back and forth in a half empty space as they finish the floors, and move inventory back and forth between a storage unit, your house, and the shop multiple times. That seems crazy when I type it, but I've been involved in a lot of these, and it ends up looking like that EVERY SINGLE TIME. This is a big one by itself.






Notice the term "overlanding" wasn't mentioned once. That's because what you're describing isn't actually centered around overlanding. Overlanding is what the customers who buy the products do. What you're describing is simply opening and running a retail store. Please don't take my thoughts as critical or negative! They're NOT. But the truth is, there is a huge trend going right now where people quit their jobs, start a company because its their passion, have little to no experience running a company, and ultimately fail. Almost as bad is what I did. I got a college degree in a field because I loved doing the work, and had no idea that I was simply going into a niche industry, into lower/middle management, that would spend time doing people and resource management, and very little time actually doing what I loved. If you are excited about the business ventures and daily work I listed above then you are on the right track! But if you're mainly passionate about travel and overlanding, and cool gear, there is a very good chance this will be a huge disappointment to you. I don't think what you're looking at is bad, but you WILL be disappointed if you don't look at it head on. I think there's way too many people nowadays who spend time talking about THE DREAM JOB, and way too few people offering a peek at the daily life of that supposed dream job.

I really hope this is helpful and not discouraging! My goal is not to discourage, but offer some first hand experience of what you're talking about doing actually looks like on the ground floor.
 

Renegade

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Texas
How will you differentiate yourself from all the 4x4 shops in the area?

What will you do to make it easier to buy from you rather than have Amazon deliver it to my door in 2 days?

I am in McKinney and have been to Exploration Outfitters in Meade, OK. Warn, Smitty, ARB, they sell the same stuff I can get at 4WP or Amazon. They differentiate themselves with custom work, and carrying Overlanding stuff like the Patriot Line.

Still I mail ordered the rack for my truck as they did not have any that fit. I almost went with them for custom, but found what I wanted.

I suggest you go to Rigs & Coffee on 1/12. That will be a large part of your future customer base.

https://allevents.in/the colony/rigs-and-coffee-kickoff-event/20001231772911
 

e61overland

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How will you differentiate yourself from all the 4x4 shops in the area?

What will you do to make it easier to buy from you rather than have Amazon deliver it to my door in 2 days?

I am in McKinney and have been to Exploration Outfitters in Meade, OK. Warn, Smitty, ARB, they sell the same stuff I can get at 4WP or Amazon. They differentiate themselves with custom work, and carrying Overlanding stuff like the Patriot Line.

Still I mail ordered the rack for my truck as they did not have any that fit. I almost went with them for custom, but found what I wanted.

I suggest you go to Rigs & Coffee on 1/12. That will be a large part of your future customer base.

https://allevents.in/the colony/rigs-and-coffee-kickoff-event/20001231772911
Thanks for the feedback. Yes, essentially an off-road shop similar to Exploration Outfitters but more local to Dallas. The model these days for local businesses is not to try and compete with Amazon or other internet retailers. It's more about curating a brand and helping create experiences and community.

Revenue mostly comes from labor and branded merchandise, not margin on parts. In this case some additional revenue would come from sales/service/rental of off road trailers.

There are some great off road shops in the area. I use Smith Off-road for the harder stuff myself. I've just found myself wishing I had a place to go where Overlanding is more of the bias as opposed to wheeling/rock crawling in big rigs and jeeps (not that there is anything negative about that). I've owned several land rovers and land cruisers and have a taco now. There are fewer places in DFW that have experience building a slide out kitchen for example.

So the main question is: anyone know of something similar in DFW? I've found some in Austin and Houston. But most I've found in DFW are regular 4wheel shops.
 
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Kent R

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Hi North Texas Overlanders. Looking for some honest feedback. I'm considering taking a break from my day job to open a "passion" business in the north Dallas/Plano area focused on Overlanding. Main goal isn't to make a lot of money. Just needs to make enough to pay the bills.

Do you all think there is a market for a shop in the DFW area that offers:

- Retail parts, accessories, gear, etc. e.g., Goose Gear, CBI, ARB, Rooftop tents, cooking/kitchens, audio, nav, etc..

- Build consultation, design, fabrication, Installation, service

- Off road trailers - sales and rentals. e.g, Escapod, Off-Grid, etc..

- A cool place for meetups, learning, training, community support, trip planning

I'm currently scouting locations and lining up reseller agreements and would love your feedback and input on market demand, locations, your needs and wants for the retail or community stuff.

Thanks in advance for your input!

David
Overland bound has a lot of members in the DFW area you might want to get on the local meet-up page and ask them.
 

Boostpowered

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If you do open something open it in the rockwall area we are a 4x4 shop desert over here on the east side of dfw. In the past 2 months ive seen probably 40-50 vehicles with a snorkel in the greenville area when last year i was the only one running one. So it seems to be growing in popularity over here. Lots of lifts and big tires out here too and if you can do diesel tuning you will have hit the lottery.
 
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Laud

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I don't see it being a success. There are multiple business groups here that sell all of those companies products.
In fact, a friend of mine is selling his local business with local clients already established. All products we like to purchase are available online and nearly impossible to compete with.
If you choose to do so here, I hope it is very successful for you!!
 
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Renegade

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There are multiple business groups here that sell all of those companies products.
Please name them. I am not aware of any place in NorthDallas/Plano that stocks and sells all of:

Goose Gear, CBI, ARB, Rooftop tents, cooking/kitchens, audio, nav, etc..

- Off road trailers - sales and rentals. e.g, Escapod, Off-Grid, etc..


Several places can order it, but few stock it. As I said earlier, if it needs to be ordered, I can do that myself on Amazon.
 
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sabjku

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Thanks for the feedback. Yes, essentially an off-road shop similar to Exploration Outfitters but more local to Dallas. The model these days for local businesses is not to try and compete with Amazon or other internet retailers. It's more about curating a brand and helping create experiences and community.

Revenue mostly comes from labor and branded merchandise, not margin on parts. In this case some additional revenue would come from sales/service/rental of off road trailers.

There are some great off road shops in the area. I use Smith Off-road for the harder stuff myself. I've just found myself wishing I had a place to go where Overlanding is more of the bias as opposed to wheeling/rock crawling in big rigs and jeeps (not that there is anything negative about that). I've owned several land rovers and land cruisers and have a taco now. There are fewer places in DFW that have experience building a slide out kitchen for example.

So the main question is: anyone know of something similar in DFW? I've found some in Austin and Houston. But most I've found in DFW are regular 4wheel shops.
You hit the nail on the head. If you're in retail, and I have been for over 30 years, don't even try and compete AGAINST Amazon or any established, major online retailer. You can't win, and you won't. You do exactly what you said; create a sense of community for people, and provide them with experiences-stuff that the online folks have more of a challenge doing. Even with that said, brick and mortar retail is still a major challenge any more, but with a business backed with a healthy percentage of labor being done, it's more sustainable-fortunately that's what we fall into as well.

When it comes to brands, you only strive to offer products that do not allow advertised online discounting, or a very minimal discount, to where they strictly enforce MAP(Minimum Advertised Price). Brands that don't enforce it, we don't carry or support them. Take ARB for example-awesome reputation, great products, and they allow their retailers to be successful with their brand, because they uphold the integrity of that product line by strictly enforcing their pricing policies. You get caught discounting below MAP, and you get a slap on the wrist. Let it happen more than that, and you probably won't be a retailer of that product any longer. Those are the brands you want to support.

I like your idea! Good luck with whatever you decide to take on. Hopefully it's successful.......open a second location out here in the DC area:)
 

Boostpowered

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Well out east of dfw weve got nothing, i have to go to mckinney or rockwall to find anything close to being for off road and even then its oriented towards jeep and toyota. We have a diesel shop thats untrustworthy a ntb and a discount tire for a terrible selection of all terrain tires. Out here we tend to have to diy or fab our own stuff or order it online. Personally i hate getting parts online there is never a full description and alot of times i get the wrong part shipped to me which burns more time and money. If youCarry chevrolet/holden rg colorado canyon parts and isuzu dmax parts imported from australia and japan sell storefront and online. I garauntee the online sales would go trough the roof since 2nd gen colorado canyons have very little aftermarket parts in us domestic market and for an individual to order one part get ridiculous with shipping cost but you order a conex trailer full of parts you get a deep shipping discount. take hoyetractor here in tx for example they only sell yanmar tractor parts and they are the only supplier in usa for the grey market yamars so they own that market completely.
 
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e61overland

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I think the “small retail can’t compete with online” has been well covered.

There are plenty of businesses that thrive because they fill a niche and/or provide an awesome experience and high standard of service.

The target market is definitely not the guy that “knows it all”, orders everything on line, and can do all of his wrench work himself.

The target covers the rest of the world that wants some help with some or all of that. E.g. from those that do the research and order on line but want some help with the installation to folks that want a one stop, total vehicle build.

Many try and fail mainly because they don’t fully understand the value they offer and/or simply suck at running a business. It’s not easy. Especially when you just sell the same crap everyone does and don’t offer anything more.
 
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e61overland

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Hey folks, quick update, I am now the Alu-Cab dealer/distributer for Texas. Also selling Goose Gear, Toytec, Rago, MountainHatch, Demello, and have several more in the pipeline. I can get ahold of most anything from ARB and Frontrunner as well. I'm more focused on big projects, but always willing to help local folks get a good deal. Please PM me if interested in Alu-Cab in particular. I will be placing a large stock order this week. e61overland.com
 
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Welding Goats

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So, I don't have any input for Dallas-specific market demand, locations etc. I have managed and opened stores in retail for a while though, and I have spent a lot of time working in niche industries. I have lots of thoughts on the retail industry, as someone who, for a long time, pursued their "dream career", and someone who has spent several years in upper management of a privately owned retail brand.

-Marketing, marketing, marketing. Not just social media marketing and having a large following. Those numbers can be impressive, but don't always equate to revenue growth. If you don't have a strong plan for building a brand, getting good market penetration in your immediate geographical area, and marketing across multiple platforms, your growth will be seriously limited.

-Having worked in my "passion" industry for a little while, I can tell you that often managing or owning a company in your passion industry does NOT equate to living your passion. What you've outlined is simply opening a retail store in a niche, trendy, super competitive, and incredibly fast-growing industry. A retail store is a retail store, and managing a retail store, your time will be largely taken up with:
-inventory management, sales projections, ordering and receiving shipments
-quickbooks, bills, performance assessments, and cashflow management
-relationship building and management for large customer accounts (IE the relationships that can actually cover a lot of your costs)
-hiring/training/HR/payroll/labor projections
-aesthetic management in store of displays, inventory rotation etc
-marketing and behind the scenes sales

In my experience, marketing by itself can easily take up 40 plus hours a week. If I were going to open up a company of my own in the retail market, I would work VERY HARD to find a couple of solid marketing and branding companies, and I would outsource almost ALL of my marketing to them. I also hate marketing, and I'm not incredibly talented at it. You might be really good at it and want to delegate out more of other things, keeping marketing in house. I don't believe there's a right and wrong way there, the big mistake I see often is that people simply undervalue marketing overall, and sell their business's short or even outright fail because of that.


Now. I just outlined what your time would be spent doing ONCE THE STORE IS OPEN. Opening a store initially is totally different. There your time would be spent on the following:
-funding/financing
-projecting first year performance/sales
-coordinating with architects, contractors, landlords and real estate brokers to: find a space, design the space, have a GC do your build out, and get it ready to be open for business.
-on-site management of a buildout-if you think your GC will do that for you, then you are mistaken. GC's manage the construction and the subs. If the owner/lessor isn't on site regularly, lots of things will go undone/much slower than needed/or simply be done very differently than how you wanted them.
-lining up reseller agreements (as you mentioned)
-initial hiring, team building, training, etc.
-pre-opening marketing to get the word out for a strong opening (literally can't stress this enough. I spent over 40 hrs a week for a while doing this, and it was barely enough).
-logistical planning and movement of opening inventory-Seems straightforward, but this plus marketing were the two things I spent the most of my time doing. No matter how much you plan, you'll end up getting pallets delivered to the space that's under construction, contractors who refuse to help you unload, having to move inventory back and forth in a half empty space as they finish the floors, and move inventory back and forth between a storage unit, your house, and the shop multiple times. That seems crazy when I type it, but I've been involved in a lot of these, and it ends up looking like that EVERY SINGLE TIME. This is a big one by itself.






Notice the term "overlanding" wasn't mentioned once. That's because what you're describing isn't actually centered around overlanding. Overlanding is what the customers who buy the products do. What you're describing is simply opening and running a retail store. Please don't take my thoughts as critical or negative! They're NOT. But the truth is, there is a huge trend going right now where people quit their jobs, start a company because its their passion, have little to no experience running a company, and ultimately fail. Almost as bad is what I did. I got a college degree in a field because I loved doing the work, and had no idea that I was simply going into a niche industry, into lower/middle management, that would spend time doing people and resource management, and very little time actually doing what I loved. If you are excited about the business ventures and daily work I listed above then you are on the right track! But if you're mainly passionate about travel and overlanding, and cool gear, there is a very good chance this will be a huge disappointment to you. I don't think what you're looking at is bad, but you WILL be disappointed if you don't look at it head on. I think there's way too many people nowadays who spend time talking about THE DREAM JOB, and way too few people offering a peek at the daily life of that supposed dream job.

I really hope this is helpful and not discouraging! My goal is not to discourage, but offer some first hand experience of what you're talking about doing actually looks like on the ground floor.

Very well put together reply here... Could possibly save you (and others) a lot of time and dollars.
 

e61overland

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Lol, thanks for all the awesome expert advise and positive support. I didn’t realize there were so many successful business consultants and entrepreneurs on this forum ;-)
 

Ben Cleveland

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Lol, thanks for all the awesome expert advise and positive support. I didn’t realize there were so many successful business consultants and entrepreneurs on this forum ;-)
Honestly not sure if that's sarcasm or not. You asked for feedback!
I really hope your business kicks off to a great start! Your website looked clean. FYI though it doesn't pull up when googling your name, I only found it through your facebook page. Not sure if that's intentional because you're still opening up, or a mistake. If not intentional, you can pay an online marketing company to improve the google algorithms for your search results. Or you can get into it yourself through google business with a limited version of the same results.
 

Rblessed

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So, I don't have any input for Dallas-specific market demand, locations etc. I have managed and opened stores in retail for a while though, and I have spent a lot of time working in niche industries. I have lots of thoughts on the retail industry, as someone who, for a long time, pursued their "dream career", and someone who has spent several years in upper management of a privately owned retail brand.

-Marketing, marketing, marketing. Not just social media marketing and having a large following. Those numbers can be impressive, but don't always equate to revenue growth. If you don't have a strong plan for building a brand, getting good market penetration in your immediate geographical area, and marketing across multiple platforms, your growth will be seriously limited.

-Having worked in my "passion" industry for a little while, I can tell you that often managing or owning a company in your passion industry does NOT equate to living your passion. What you've outlined is simply opening a retail store in a niche, trendy, super competitive, and incredibly fast-growing industry. A retail store is a retail store, and managing a retail store, your time will be largely taken up with:
-inventory management, sales projections, ordering and receiving shipments
-quickbooks, bills, performance assessments, and cashflow management
-relationship building and management for large customer accounts (IE the relationships that can actually cover a lot of your costs)
-hiring/training/HR/payroll/labor projections
-aesthetic management in store of displays, inventory rotation etc
-marketing and behind the scenes sales

In my experience, marketing by itself can easily take up 40 plus hours a week. If I were going to open up a company of my own in the retail market, I would work VERY HARD to find a couple of solid marketing and branding companies, and I would outsource almost ALL of my marketing to them. I also hate marketing, and I'm not incredibly talented at it. You might be really good at it and want to delegate out more of other things, keeping marketing in house. I don't believe there's a right and wrong way there, the big mistake I see often is that people simply undervalue marketing overall, and sell their business's short or even outright fail because of that.


Now. I just outlined what your time would be spent doing ONCE THE STORE IS OPEN. Opening a store initially is totally different. There your time would be spent on the following:
-funding/financing
-projecting first year performance/sales
-coordinating with architects, contractors, landlords and real estate brokers to: find a space, design the space, have a GC do your build out, and get it ready to be open for business.
-on-site management of a buildout-if you think your GC will do that for you, then you are mistaken. GC's manage the construction and the subs. If the owner/lessor isn't on site regularly, lots of things will go undone/much slower than needed/or simply be done very differently than how you wanted them.
-lining up reseller agreements (as you mentioned)
-initial hiring, team building, training, etc.
-pre-opening marketing to get the word out for a strong opening (literally can't stress this enough. I spent over 40 hrs a week for a while doing this, and it was barely enough).
-logistical planning and movement of opening inventory-Seems straightforward, but this plus marketing were the two things I spent the most of my time doing. No matter how much you plan, you'll end up getting pallets delivered to the space that's under construction, contractors who refuse to help you unload, having to move inventory back and forth in a half empty space as they finish the floors, and move inventory back and forth between a storage unit, your house, and the shop multiple times. That seems crazy when I type it, but I've been involved in a lot of these, and it ends up looking like that EVERY SINGLE TIME. This is a big one by itself.






Notice the term "overlanding" wasn't mentioned once. That's because what you're describing isn't actually centered around overlanding. Overlanding is what the customers who buy the products do. What you're describing is simply opening and running a retail store. Please don't take my thoughts as critical or negative! They're NOT. But the truth is, there is a huge trend going right now where people quit their jobs, start a company because its their passion, have little to no experience running a company, and ultimately fail. Almost as bad is what I did. I got a college degree in a field because I loved doing the work, and had no idea that I was simply going into a niche industry, into lower/middle management, that would spend time doing people and resource management, and very little time actually doing what I loved. If you are excited about the business ventures and daily work I listed above then you are on the right track! But if you're mainly passionate about travel and overlanding, and cool gear, there is a very good chance this will be a huge disappointment to you. I don't think what you're looking at is bad, but you WILL be disappointed if you don't look at it head on. I think there's way too many people nowadays who spend time talking about THE DREAM JOB, and way too few people offering a peek at the daily life of that supposed dream job.

I really hope this is helpful and not discouraging! My goal is not to discourage, but offer some first hand experience of what you're talking about doing actually looks like on the ground floor.
Bro that response was so on point
 
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e61overland

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Honestly not sure if that's sarcasm or not. You asked for feedback!
I really hope your business kicks off to a great start! Your website looked clean. FYI though it doesn't pull up when googling your name, I only found it through your facebook page. Not sure if that's intentional because you're still opening up, or a mistake. If not intentional, you can pay an online marketing company to improve the google algorithms for your search results. Or you can get into it yourself through google business with a limited version of the same results.
Circling back. Been away from the forums and focused on work. Yes, sarcasm, in jest. No negative intent. I should have been more clear in the initial request. I was mainly hoping to gauge the market for overland vehicle builds and unique retail products (not sold at 4WP or Amazon). The perils of starting and operating a business and/or retail is hard is all a given. Soft launch with no marketing has done way better than expected. Stay tuned for some really cool stuff coming soon!