I am in a college town, how do I survive the summers?


#1

We got this question last year at the Vape Shop Master Summit.

What do you do if you have a seasonal crowd? How can you survive the dips in a cyclical market?

We have a few tips for dealing with seasonal dips:

  1. Don’t let your customer’s information slip away!
    You should never be selling to anyone whom you do not have contact info for, especially in a cyclical market. You’ll want to collect email addresses and phone numbers for everyone and constantly be reaching out to your customers.

  2. Survey them to find out when they are coming back.
    Never fly blind. Don’t assume you know when and how many will be coming back. What if they are a senior and this is their last year? You’ll know you will have less customers when they graduate. You should know what year they are in so you can plan ahead.

  3. Have an ecommerce option
    This is quite a lot to build, but it could be a great summer project for you. If they are truly loyal you want to give them a way to buy online. That way when they go home you can still market to them and capture orders (using the information you captured in step 1 BTW!)

What tips do other vape shop owners have to survive seasonal dips?


#2

I wouldn’t worry too much about the college crowd. Worry more about the locals and they will keep you afloat during the summer.


#3

Great advice here. It reminds me of a common theme We see in the VapeMasters group…

Cloud Competitions

A lot of shop owners seem to be pressured into hosting cloud comps, presumably because of social media. These event are usually suggested by an employee as a way to get new customers. Good idea, if you are trying to attract that crowd.

In reality they (can) become a slow-motion car crash that devolves into a total bro-fest and drives away your prime customer. People don’t want to blow “O’s” and fog up the room. They want to quit smoking. To be fair, these events can be successful too, and I think you should experiment with your audience.

That said, we advise that shop owners focus on their core audience and know it 100%. Host events that help them admire and revere your brand. You can leave the cloud chasers to their own priorities. Unless, of course, that is your crowd. In that case, party on, Wayne!

Do you host these types of events? How do you get your core customer coming back?


#4

We host 3-4 parties with cloud comps per year. We lose money every time we do it, but the social media exposure seems to be beneficial.

The the best way (in my experience) to keep your core customers coming back is to take care of them. Get to know them on an individual basis. Learn their names, throw them a random 25% on a bottle of juice every once in a while.


#5

At the end of the day, business is just a social club where money is exchanged, so that make sense.

Are you capturing the people that attend the comps and remarketing to them? How can you be sure that the exposure alone is beneficial?

PS I’m a data nerd so I tend to rely on the “proof in the pudding”.


#6

I only have anecdotal evidence to support it, sadly. We are in a tourist town of 10k people so we draw people from nearby cities to the comps with a nice cash prize. We believe that we will see them more and more when they are in northern Wisconsin on vacation.


#7

So are you capturing their info?


#8

Of course, we use Vend for a POS and reward them with 2% of purchase price in store credit the next time they come in.