THERE ARE A COUPLE of general rules for working or living in a space that’s the size of a metaphorical shoebox.
The first is minimalism. Pare down your belongings. Keep it simple. Keep it essential. Clutter kills.
After all, it seems to be a lot easier to share space with few things when you don’t have much space to share.
The second is efficiency. A spot for everything and everything in its spot. Put it away where you found it. Organization rules. From a business perspective, if you can’t find it, you can’t sell it.
Rec-Tech Power Products finds itself straddling these two approaches, much like the Top 100 dealership’s location in Lloydminster, which straddles the provincial border between Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada. At 3,000 sq. ft. (bathrooms included), space is as much a limiting factor for growth as it is a mandate to keep things minimal and tidy.
“Our parts building storage is literally two sea-cans out the back door with shelves in them,” said owner Alan Lorenz. “They’re all organized and bin-located with lights, but when it’s 40-below out you’d better know what bin location you’re looking for because you don’t want to be out there that long. It helps encourage the guys to keep their stuff organized.”
A tiny sales floor big enough for two units means the paved lot outside serves as The Great Outdoor Showroom. To get into the store, customers have to walk by a lineup of quads, side-by-sides and sleds. And with no room for a large apparel fixture, the store puts one sample of each garment on display with a message that multiple sizes are kept in stock.
Cross-training is essential. With only one person for each position, Lorenz relies on his employees to jump in and take over should another worker be busy or away. Even the dealership’s office manager, Nora Roberts, can cover any position (short of wrenching on units) should the need arise, he adds.
For now, the farmer-turned-wrench-turned-dealer-principal bides his time in the building he moved into in 2006 with plans for something more spacious in the near future, two years perhaps. He owns the seven acres of prime highway real estate where he’s located, and he’d like to go bigger.
“Ever since I started this I’ve always wanted to be the Napa- kind-of-like-Pep Boys [powersports store] of this area,” Lorenz said. “If you have a good inventory management system and a good parts guy managing it, you could stock a pretty wide, diverse inventory, but you don’t have stock very deep because it’s only a day away. I can see that working pretty good, but we haven’t found the right staff to do it yet, and we don’t have the room.”
Until then, Lorenz and his staff focus on serving their community of about 28,000 knowing that word of mouth and reputation are just about the best way of marketing. While he runs ads on all three local radio stations and does some social media work, getting out and personally connecting with customers is paramount. (Continued)