Feedback: July 2017

by Cindy Dach, Jacob Meltzer, Anthony Spinato

Question: After establishing your business successfully in its first location, what were some key concerns when you began planning to expand to additional locations?

Cindy Dach

Co-Owner and General Manager
Changing Hands Bookstore
Sector: Retail

For years, our community had been asking us to open a bookstore in Phoenix. Our search for a location was met with challenges. We had to find a central location and a landlord who understood the nature of bookselling — low profit margins, digital disruption in the form of e-readers and online competitors, along with understanding the value of the bookstore as a community gathering place. The main reason most independent bookstores don’t survive is high occupancy costs.

The next step was figuring out how our second location would represent our overall mission and culture while simultaneously responding to and reflecting the needs of its new community. Rather than clone the Tempe store, we chose a downtown-appropriate esthetic and continued to follow our customers’ lead in determining product mix. Learning how to run a bar and create a model for internal communication between two locations is a priority. Our solutions come through online manuals, data capturing and cross-department training. For us, successful growth is about identifying the challenge and moving to solution as quickly as possible.

Cindy Dach is co-owner and general manager of Changing Hands Bookstore. Changing Hands is a 43-year-old independent bookstore with two locations in Arizona. The Phoenix location is home to First Draft Book Bar, a beer, wine and coffee bar. Changing Hands hosts more than 400 events a year. Dach is a community leader and serves on numerous nonprofit boards of directors.

Jacob Meltzer

Co-Owner
Keep It Cut – Unlimited Haircut Memberships
Sector: Barbershops

My partner and I focused on scalability — how to add locations with only marginally more work for us as owners and still ensure quality and consistency across all shops. To address this, we created clear policies and procedures that could easily be replicated by a shop manager and then quickly audited by us as owners. Once we had the system, we focused our attention on getting a strong manager on board. We wanted someone who was as excited as we were about our concept, our growth vision and our company values (ownership, hospitality and fun). Having a strong manager on board to handle all the day-to-day operations and maintain our company culture in the shop allows us to continue focusing on expansion.

We also looked at location. Was our first store a unicorn? For our second store, we didn’t take any risks. We surveyed our existing clients, looked at the overall demographics of the area around our first location, and then looked for a new location that matched as closely as possible. Sure enough, the results looked almost identical.

Jacob Meltzer holds a B.S. in Biology from Western Washington University and a M.Ed. in Higher Education from ASU. From 2005 to 2015, he worked in student leadership development and property management. In 2015, he transitioned to Keep It Cut, bringing Unlimited Haircut Memberships to market. 

Anthony Spinato

Vice President
Spinato’s Pizzeria
Sector: Restaurant

In the restaurant business, you’re most concerned with consistency of the menu, in terms of flavors and preparation, and with the guest experience. It was incredibly important for us that each guest at our Bell Road location would receive the same warm service and quality meals that they would if they went to our first store.

With respect to difficulty, finding great team members to deliver the Spinato’s Experience was perhaps the most difficult. That took time. Back then, we looked at the profiles of our best staff and tried to find people who shared and showed those traits during interviews. The consistency issue we solved by creating our Spinato’s family kitchen and having one or two members of our team make these proprietary recipes daily for both restaurants.

Being connected to the neighborhood seemed the easiest part. Our pizzerias are gathering places for family, friends and many local businesses and youth sports. We didn’t have to go looking for the connection; they came to us with almost unlimited opportunities to serve and support our community.

Anthony Spinato is the vice president of Spinato’s Pizzeria, a Phoenix favorite with five Valley locations. His father, Ken Spinato, started the family-run business with one location in 1974. Since then, they have been satisfying diners’ hunger for authentic Italian flavors with a focus on made-from-scratch family recipes and excellent guest service. 

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