BeDaring Adult Shop Queensland

By on October 28, 2014
BeDaring Adult Shop

Name of Company

The BeDaring Group Pty Ltd T/A BeDaring The Adult Shop

Established 1992

Founded by the current managing director Keith Boswell

HO located at Caboolture, Qld

How many staff 27

How many stores/offices/location

Five in total. Stores at Caboolture, Kawana Waters, Bribie Is, Chermside. An admin office and mail order and web dispatch at an office in Caboolture

Website URL: www.bedaring.com.au

How did you first start in adult retail and what were you doing previously?

I had spent 13years with K-Mart rising from trainee manager to managing the Caboolture K-Mart. I was retrenched in 1992 in the last recession along with several thousand others at Coles Myer including 200 managers who left on the day that I did. At first I was anxious as there was a lot of competition for a limited number of management positions. Then I got three job offers in a couple of weeks and my confidence bounced back. I decided to go into business for myself. I paid out our house, bought a brand new Harley out of the crate, and opened our first BeDaring. The idea to open an adult shop came about when my wife Tracey and I tried to buy a vibrator for a friend’s 21st Birthday. We couldn’t find a store and that was an ‘aha moment’. I learned an enormous amount about retailing while working for K-Mart and while really pissed at the time for being retrenched am grateful for all that they taught me and the payout that I walked away with enabling me to start a business from which I have never looked back.

What do you like most about your business?

It is gratifying being able to offer people jobs and hopefully pass on a number of skills. It is also great to be able to offer staff promotions or opportunities. Of course I love it when a planned promotion is successful or a major task completed and everyone gets a buzz.

How does a typical day look for you?

I’m embarrassed to say most of my time is spent in the office. I know that I am out of touch with the stores and need to spend more time in them. I have weekly and daily routine which starts with a review of sales entered into budgets and then I write a CEO message every day which appears on store POS. I check our social media and make comments. I review postal and email and half my day is gone ha ha. I now have a routine calling to one of the stores each week for a good look around. We prepare a newsletter every week to pass information to the team. I meet with my web team Monday, Accounts staff Wednesday. In between I am trying plan ahead and manage any problems. We hold a managers meeting once a month and there are always lots of other meetings to be held. I try to attend various Chamber of Commerce meetings and regularly attend seminars. I have recently been selected as a member of State Government retail crime committee.

What have been some of the greatest influences in your life that have assisted you with your business.

While at K-Mart I worked at numerous stores and worked with some fantastic mentors. Each had their own strengths. Some in people management, others follow up, others in merchandising. I certainly walked away from K-Mart with a ‘can do’ attitude as nothing else was accepted. I would also have to include my Mum who has a very strong sense of empathy and I think I try to see others points of view. There are a couple of people in the adult industry who influence me. My accountant has played devil’s advocate in a number of major decisions and I respect his opinion. My martial arts mentors bring out the warrior in me when mental toughness is called for and my wife can ground me when I get carried away ha ha!

What lessons have you learnt?

Many expensive lessons but I would say any time that I have lost a lot of money on a project it has been due to inadequate planning. I cannot over emphasise the necessity to plan every detail & researching as many of the variables as possible. Preparing a well-researched budget and sticking to it. One thing I find most difficult is having an exit plan that pulls you out at the right time. It is so tempting to keep pouring funds into something that you think will work and thinking that it will turn around soon if you keep trying hard enough. But success is more than working hard it is working hard on a good plan.

If we look at your adult retail business 10 years ago versus now, what changes can you see and how have you responded to them?

Adult products have without doubt become more mainstream appealing to a wider audience. We try to continually tailor and our range to suit. There has been a move from categories to brands and we have been a little slow to maximise this but are re-merchandising to brands now. Generally adult shops have become a lot more professional in their appearance with expensive shop fit outs and the size of stores is increasing.

What are some of the best things BeDaring has done?

We have a sensational team of loyal hard working staff. We have prepared comprehensive Policy and Procedure Manuals which standardises and improves training. Introduction of server based POS system and document systems were major steps forward.

What are you especially proud of?

My daughter Jayme is working her way up our business hierarchy and after spending two years in our admin office undertaking a cert 4 in Bookkeeping and Accounting she is now the store manager at Bribie Is. Jayme is my succession plan. My son is now working also working in the business and I hope to see him climb the ladder as well.

What have been some of the best moments? Worst moments?

Best moment:

Three generations working together with my son and my dad to build our Alderley store and then launching it as it was our flagship store at the time.

Worst Moment:

Pulling out of our Alderley store. We had used a lot expensive plaster work including plaster columns, arches, and mirror surrounds to create a Romanesque look. My son Ben I went in with sledgehammers and smashed all the expensive plaster work down when we pulled out. A very expensive lesson

What do you think you could do better?

Ah so many. Personally, spend more time in the stores, spend more time reviewing big picture issues at the pointy end of the business and not get bogged in the day to day.

What would you never do again?

Settle on a lease because there is nothing better around. Wait wait wait until exactly what you want comes along.

What are a few of the key variables in order of importance to ensure the best chance of success in adult retail?

  1. Retail experience. It is really hard to change professions without a good grounding.
  2. A good business plan including (1) Vision (2) Budget (3) Marketing Plan (4) Operation Plan – Policies and Procedures.
  3. A good POS system to control inventory.
  4. Wait for the right location.

What makes a great store location?

I believe that busy roads do not always the make the best location. We discovered this hard way at our Alderley store. This is traffic in transient. 90% of your customers come from a 10kilometre radius around your store. You can’t count on lots of passing traffic who don’t live in the area. So you need to be able to count on your local demographic to support you.

You need to be visible (to avoid lots of marketing to let people know where you are) but discrete so people who want to discreetly slip in can do so. Parking is critical. People will happily drive 20kms but not walk 100metres. Again we learned this the hard way at our Alderley store which have limited parking.

Does BeDaring target a specific customer demographic? How would you define your customer base?

We are couple friendly mainstream. We have tried unsuccessfully to push the envelope into more niche products but these have not been well received and we keep moving back to the mainstream. Our typical customer would be heterosexual partnered 35-55 so this is the demographic that we aim at.

What type of activity does BeDaring engage in, in store, to ensure the maximum customer experience/best chance of maximum sale?

Clean well-presented well stocked stores. Good music and smell nice. We also train our staff not pounce on customers but to leave to browse and offer advice and engagement before trying to sell.

How important are sales staff/store staff?

Critical. Sales staff can easily double store sales.

What makes a great adult retail staff member? What sort of individual (prerequisites) is suited for working in adult retail?

An adult products shopper, who loves the product and is prepared to test new lines. Someone who loves to talk to and engage with people. Perhaps above all is sincere and their sincerity shines though

How does BeDaring get the most out of its staff? Achieve the best results?

Regular communication including that which recognises people. Staff awards and competitions. We can always do much more. Well organised managers. Most people respect and prefer organisation. And people like to feel informed. I have an open door policy and any of the staff can refer issues directly to me.

What do staff most love about their jobs?

Helping people with their sex lives and making them happy. Working in a helpful friendly team where we (the owners) do our best to address any problems be they equipment to personal so that everything runs smoothly.

What do staff most often complain about in their jobs?

Supplier orders placed months before being delayed especially if we have a promotion or event planned around this, then fast changes need to be made.

How often would BeDaring change a store layout or re merchandise?

We are remerchandising every week. A lot of our stock is now bought in plot plans so the stores are remerchandised as these arrive.

How important is new product, or product selection in a store?

Extremely important. We have new lines arriving every week.

What trends has BeDaring observed in adult pleasure products?

The trend towards non phallic ergonomic ladies toys such as Lelo. Lifelike vagina’s like Fleshlight and lifelike dolls. The slowing of DVD due to the internet and social tonics have become a significant % of most stores sales. A booming market for delay and erection products for guys and sensitising products for ladies. Packaging has improved significantly and the use of new materials, aluminium, stainless steel, ceramics, glass, and the various silicones.

How does BeDaring keep itself informed of adult pleasure product?

We attend tradeshows in Australia and overseas. Wholesaler newsletters and industry newsletters such as Eros and XBIZ.

What makes a successful product?

It has to work well. Be packaged well and most importantly staff have to like it and be committed to it.

What have been some of the best selling items of all time?

We-vibe, Lelo, G-Vibe, Fleshlight, we have penis vibrator called Pathfinder which has been a huge seller. Several bullets and tinglers have also sold large quantities, smartballs, and bathmate.

What proportion of your business is online versus brick and mortar?

Unfortunately our online is only a small % however I am aware it could be as big as or bigger than bricks and mortar. We have thrown lots of money at online and had many extremely costly technical problems.

How do you view the trend toward online shopping and the changing role of physical shops? How will this change your business?

The move to online is undeniable. We are about to re-write our online business plan and undertake another expensive but necessary re-build of our site.

How is BeDaring responding to the rise in ecommerce sales?

We have a separate web business. It carries its own stock with all lines held in stock and dispatch staff ensure all orders are dispatched in full, same day. We send weekly e-newsletters and continually add product and features to our site.

What are the online challenges?

Online is a difficult one to crack. It is highly labour intensive or that is our experience. It requires regular graphics work from an experienced artist, new lines to be added with associated pics and text prepared. New banners, frequent newsletters, and SEO are an ongoing task requiring resources such as blogging and use of social media. You can’t set and forget a website there are always lots and lots of ongoing tasks.

How would you view the market for adult pleasure product in Queensland, in general? Are there any challenges particular to operating in Queensland?

The Queensland adult pleasure market has cause to be optimistic and opportunities exist, but for sure all retailers are suffering from the GFC and general belt tightening in the community. You only need look at the discounts major retailers are offering to realise the pain is being felt across the retail spectre. In Queensland the current LNP government is taking a similar line to the Federal government blaming the previous Labor state government for the parlous state of the Qld economy. This talking up our economic problems at both levels creates additional anxiety and people are very cautious spending. Housing prices have been slower to rise in Queensland and this also effects how home owners view their financial position.

Each state government has passed their own Social Tonics laws and Queensland’s are particularly broad and open to interpretation. This places any retailers selling social tonics in a legal minefield.

What advice could you give someone intending to start in adult retail today?

It is not the goldmine that people imagine to be. It is becoming increasingly competitive leading to lower gross margins as businesses reduce prices to compete. If this is your first business think carefully about the stress that it will place upon you and your family.

I know many people from non-retail backgrounds have successfully bridged the gap but retail requires many special skills and you if you do not have retail management experience get ready for lots of expensive mistakes unless you can afford to hire that experience.

It is a niche which by its nature sells products on the fringe of the law otherwise Coles and Woolworths would be selling our products (indeed Woolworths recently had a brief foray into vibrators) so make sure that you are aware of state and federal laws as violation can have serious repercussions. Test the waters before overcommitting and have a sound well researched business plan.

A Synergy Interview with owner Keith Boswell

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