Many people celebrate life’s biggest events with alcohol, in the company of the people they care about. Drinks enter into the picture when hanging out with longtime friends, sharing a romantic first date, or cheering on your favorite sports teams. This kind of constant demand makes opening a liquor store a solid investment idea with few market surprises.
Whether you’re a savvy entrepreneur or a bold innovator looking to create an iconic business, knowing how to open a liquor store can pave the road to financial success. Here are 12 essential steps to opening a liquor store that includes everything from hiring the right employees to securing your Florida liquor license:
1. Decide Whether You’re a Lone Wolf or a Team Player
The first decision you need to make is whether you want to open your own private liquor store, perhaps a specialty shop, or opt to become part of a franchise or a pool buying group. Here are the advantages of each:
- Doing it alone: You get to run your business your way, giving you increased freedom to create a unified vision that includes what you sell and what your store looks like. Also, you don’t have to worry about franchise fees taking away profits.
- Franchising: Having access to franchise resources and branding can give you a great reputation immediately.
2. Develop a Business Plan
It’s not enough to have a well-stocked liquor store. To be a huge hit, your business needs to stand out. This is especially true if you decide to take on giant alcohol superstores in an epic battle of passion versus volume. A great business plan should focus on your unique take on the industry—be it an intimate artisanal wine shop or an eclectic location for hip mixology enthusiasts to gather—and contain concrete financial goals to make that idea profitable.
3. Secure Needed Financing
Liquor store owners need to have significant capital for everything from property to inventory purchases. How much money will you need to launch your business? That depends on factors such as location, store size, and total inventory volume.
4. Scout Out the Right Location
Location, Location, Location goes a long way towards making your business a hit. This also means looking at the atmosphere and customer convenience. Don’t forget to consult with experts to make sure you understand city and county zoning regulations regarding alcohol sales.
5. Take Care of Legal and Financial Paperwork
Profit margins are important to any business, but especially to Florida liquor stores. How can you give your business a solid financial footing? Dot all of your i’s and cross all your t’s when it comes to filling out financial forms, such as the following:
- Registering your legal entity
- Apply for your federal employer identification number (EIN)
- Apply for your State of Florida Sales & Use Tax Certificate
- Consult with a professional accountant or purchase comprehensive accounting software
6. Get Your Florida Alcohol License
Securing a liquor license is one of the most important, if not the most important, part of opening a liquor store. Without it, you can’t purchase, sell, serve, or deliver alcohol to your customers.
Get Trustworthy Advice and Assistance
We’re not going to sugarcoat things. Many states make obtaining a liquor license complicated, and Florida is no exception. Having the expertise of professionals who know exactly where to go, who to contact, and what procedures are required can be the difference between a painless application process and a real business nightmare.
Choose the Right License
The type of Florida alcohol license you select has a direct impact on what kind of alcohol you can sell. If you only want to market beer and wine, you will need to apply for a 2APS beer & wine license which is specific to these items. To sell other kinds of liquor, such as whiskey, tequila, and specialty spirits, you’ll need to apply for a quota liquor license. Other differences are based on whether you want to serve alcohol on premises or sell package goods for off-premise consumption only.
Fill Out the Correct Application
The next step is to complete the detailed license application with both the Florida state government and the local county where you plan on opening your business. Depending on current legal requirements, you may also need to submit a notification to the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
How To Purchase a Quota License
If you plan on selling all types of liquor in Florida, you will need a quota alcoholic beverage license. As the name indicates, the number of these liquor permits is limited, meaning that securing one can be tricky. The process usually involves purchasing an existing quota license from a business that already has one and wants to sell. Having professionals working by your side makes it much easier to secure this license for a fair price.
7. Create an Amazing Experience
In addition to tailoring your business decisions to the vision you based your store idea on, you also want the location itself to reflect your brand identity. Investing in expressive décor can make a massive difference for attracting customers. Your business also needs an up-to-date point-of-sale terminal that caters to your customers’ preferred payment types.
8. Make Smart Inventory Choices
It might be tempting to use all of the capital you have available to purchase vast amounts of inventory that include every major brand and style of alcohol possible. But while having the types of alcohol your customer base craves is vital, you also need to keep costs down at the beginning. Try to determine which products will sell the most, and rely on those items to drive early cash flow.
9. Become a Liquor Expert
You’re not just selling alcohol. You’re selling yourself and your brand. The more you know about top wines, craft beers, and other spirits, the better equipped you are to stand out from competitors. Knowing, and showing, how to mix awesome drinks gives you a cool reputation that can win major social media followers.
10. Hire the Right People To Represent You
If you have employees that are honest, trustworthy, energetic, helpful, and passionate about the types of liquor they sell, modern connoisseurs immediately notice the difference. Consider paying a little more in wages as it may be worth it in making and keeping enthusiastic customers.
11. Connect With Your Customers
Well before your launch date, and consistently afterward, your company should have a significant online presence bolstered with traditional advertising. Word of mouth plays a large role in liquor store popularity, especially for specialty boutique-style establishments.
12. Trust the Liquor License Experts
Getting a Florida liquor license is a complex proposition, but it’s one you have to undertake to bring your liquor store to life. Fortunately, you don’t have to wade through the world of regulations and license purchases alone. At Beverage License Specialists, we’re by your side every step of the way:
- Advice regarding the correct alcohol license for your business
- Assistance locating eligible quota alcohol licenses
- In-depth license investigation to detect liens, encumbrances and/or judgments
- Purchasing recommendations
- Clear explanations and assistance during the liquor license application process
By contacting our experts at Beverage License Specialists, getting your Florida alcohol license can be fast, smooth, and painless. We have over 30 years of experience working with the biggest names in the beverage industry and successful small business owners alike. Contact our helpful advisors right away for assistance securing the best liquor license for your needs.