February '19

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42 THE SHOP FEBRUARY 2019 restaurant, real estate and automotive markets, but realized they weren't aligned with Cap-it's needs. So, with no existing model to lean on, Funk had to create his own unique busi- ness plan. "If you look at franchise steak restau- rants, they buy all their steaks from a warehouse, like a Cisco," he explains. "We thought maybe we could find a warehouse to buy our products, but that didn't work either, so we had to develop our own warehouse. This allowed us to bypass the middleman and sell directly to our franchisees, so they could make the extra profit." Today, Cap-it ( boasts 30 locations—mostly in western Canada, including nine in the Vancouver area— with 28 of those being franchisees. Keeping those franchisees happy is one of the more rewarding aspects to the job, Funk says, but it takes continual support. According to the International Fran- chise Association, the typical franchisee goes through six stages. Funk proactively anticipates each stage, so he can help guide the franchisees to a place where they can establish a true partnership with Cap-it's corporate office, he says. The stages start with initial excitement and then funnel to frustration with roy- alties, the feeling that individual suc- cess belongs solely to the franchisee and annoyance at business restrictions. Once franchisees successfully navigate through these difficult stages, however, they move on to seeing the importance of the franchise system and understanding the need to work together. "I like to say, as a company, we survive by the creativity of our franchisees, so it's important to build a partnership," Funk says. "People buy a franchise because they want to run a business. They're not entrepreneurs, so it's our job to keep them happy and help teach them, which we love to do, and that's something you have to do on an ongoing basis." In fact, some of Cap-it's successful product lines were initially introduced into the business model from franchisees, says Andrew Funk, president of Cap-it and Hank's son. Kayaks and lift kit extensions, for instance, are both ideas that came from franchisees. When they approached the corporate office about adding the prod- ucts, everyone worked together to create a system to introduce them in the stores. OPENING IN NEW MARKETS With growth on Hank Funk's mind, it takes a strategic approach to choose where to open new retail locations. Most people add accessories to their trucks, vans or utility vehicles soon after they make their initial purchase, so Funk only opens a retail location if about four to six auto dealerships are in the area, he notes. In some cases, Cap-it even has catalogs on the salesperson's desk at the dealer- ships. Funk says this has worked well for Cap-it, because customers are most motivated to come straight to the local Cap-it store right after purchasing their new vehicle. "Our greatest asset is working with our local auto dealerships, which has been a great opportunity for us," Funk says. "The world has changed. When you buy a new truck, you don't run and show it off to your friends until it's all accessorized with wheels, tires and anything else you want. People really take pride in what their vehicle says about them." Cap-it recently crossed the border into Cap-it looks for employees who can both exude energy and bring out energy in others. After all, truck accessory shopping should be fun! (Photo courtesy Cap-it) Headed Down South For the best customer experience, Cap-it's retail environment is clean, well-lit and orga- nized. (Photo courtesy Cap-it)

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