Power in Numbers

May 11, 2016


It’s a quandary small, independent retailers have historically — and still — face: Big-name, team-licensed product suppliers charge outrageous prices to stock their wares on store shelves, or they get denied an account to do business altogether.

Regardless of why this problem seems to be scant among larger retail outlets or mass merchants, it leaves a sense of hopelessness for retail startups or those with one or two small locations. Many wonder, “Who’s looking out for me?” “Will I always have to ‘pay to play?’” “How can I level the playing field?”

Ben De Voe knows such situations all too well, and offers a way the “little guys” can surmount these challenges: franchising. After all, as franchise development director of Pro Image Sports, he’s charged with helping his clients realize the perks of aligning themselves with an advocate that will stay in their corner.

“Franchises have a long track record of having higher success rates than traditional small-business startups,” De Voe says. “Beyond having proven systems and operations, retail franchises often secure better pricing from vendors.”

We recently caught up with De Voe to talk about common retail and franchisee problems, the rise of e-commerce and more.

Logo: What makes an attractive franchisee candidate?
De Voe: Someone that is passionate about our concept, has adequate capital and is not afraid to roll up their sleeves and go to work.

Logo: What do your franchisees tell you is one of their biggest common problems at the retail level?
De Voe: Foot traffic and online sales. We combat this by allowing our franchisees to participate in retailing their product on our corporate website. We focus on fantastic customer service, and with social media and email campaigns, we are able to target market greater than ever before.

Logo: How can inventory problems at retail be better handled?
De Voe: We spend the majority of our training resources developing our owners into the best sports retail buyers in the country. We teach a specific inventory-management system and advise ways to correct course, in the event owners find themselves over-inventoried.

Logo: E-commerce and omni-channel retailing is a major focus. What does this mean for brick-and-mortar retailers?
De Voe: E-commerce isn’t going away and we found a way for our owners to participate in retailing their product on our corporate website. The sale is allocated to the owner closest to the customer geographically. I’m not familiar with another franchise that allows their owners to capture all e-commerce sales on the corporate website.

Logo: What’s Pro Image’s philosophy when it comes to finding quality franchising candidates?
De Voe: Pro Image Sports has the best culture of any franchise in the country and it is because of the quality people our franchisees are. We are extremely selective in who we approve and we take our time to get to know them personally and what drives them. We want to make sure joining the Pro Image Sports team is what is best for them and their family.