How to Start a Tennis Shop

Tennis Shop Image

A tennis shop sells a variety of different accessories and equipment to tennis players. They may also provide different services, such as racket restringing. Tennis shops may have a pro available to either help answer questions or potentially arrange games or lessons for shoppers.

Learn how to start your own Tennis Shop and whether it is the right fit for you.

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Start a tennis shop by following these 9 steps:

You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple step guide to starting your tennis shop. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.

STEP 1: Plan your Business

A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:

  • What are the startup and ongoing costs?
  • Who is your target market?
  • How long it will take you to break even?
  • What will you name your business?

Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.

What are the costs involved in opening a tennis shop?

The major cost to get started will be that of inventory. Owners need to find the right balance between the brands they stock and the customers they serve. They'll also need to budget for the cost of the space they'll be using, as well as any marketing efforts they need to attract customers to their business. Finally, owners will need commercial insurance to protect themselves against liability disputes.

What are the ongoing expenses for a tennis shop?

Ongoing expenses include rent/mortgage, salaries, insurance, and merchandise.

Who is the target market?

The target market tends to be those with plenty of disposable income. Tennis is one of the more expensive sports a person can take up, especially if opening up shop in a colder climate.

How does a tennis shop make money?

Tennis shops charge a markup on all of their products, as well as fees for general services they may perform.

How much can you charge customers?

People are willing to pay for quality merchandise when it comes to their tennis equipment. A quality racket can easily run a person $300 – $400. Tennis shoes can be $100 or more, and even tennis bags can cost over $100.

How much profit can a tennis shop make?

Profit margins can be excellent for tennis shops, whether they're restringing rackets or selling gear. Owners can charge up to 3 times the raw cost of materials to restring a racket and up to two times the wholesale cost of the rackets. Owners can charge up to $100 an hour (or sometimes more) for lessons with a pro, which can substantially increase profit margins.

How can you make your business more profitable?

Continue to look for specific things that the community isn't receiving from other retailers or instructors. You may also want to expand into other types of racket sports. For example, selling squash or racquetball equipment if there's a need for it. You can also consider selling your inventory online to further expose people to your name. This is especially recommended if you happen to have an exclusive contract or make your own gear.

What will you name your business?

Choosing the right name is very important. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.

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STEP 2: Form a legal entity

Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your tennis shop is sued. There are many business structures to choose from including: Corporations, LLC's, and DBA's.

You should also consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.

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For most small businesses forming an LLC is a great option, but if you still want to weigh all your options check our our article, What Structure Should I Choose for My Business?

STEP 3: Register for taxes

You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.

In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!

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You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.

STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

Open a business bank account

  • This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.

Get a business credit card

  • This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
  • It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.

STEP 5: Set up business accounting

Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.

STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses

Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.

State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a tennis shop business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.

Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

For information about local licenses and permits:

Certificate of Occupancy

A tennis shop business is generally run out of a storefront. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO).  A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.

  • If you plan to lease a location:
    • It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
    • Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a tennis shop business.
    • After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
  • If you plan to purchase or build a location:
    • You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
    • Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your tennis shop business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.

STEP 7: Get Business Insurance

Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.

STEP 8: Define your brand

Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.

How to promote & market a tennis shop

The first place to start will be tennis courts of every kind. Whether in a public park or a private country club, these are the people who will care about the shoes, apparels and gear you have to offer. Consider holding a themed party or even a tennis tournament with in-demand prizes to spread the word. You can also find specialized community groups on sites such as Facebook or Craigslist. It’s a good place to find people discussing their tennis game, so you can let them know how they can make it even better.

Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.

How to keep customers coming back

Stocking and arranging the right inventory can go a long way toward getting people into the shop. Once they're inside, the staff needs to zero in on the customer’s reason for coming in and give them the advice they need to get better results on the court. Any equipment sold needs to be of excellent quality so that people come to associate your name with excellence.

STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence

A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.

Start A Tennis Shop In Your State

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Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.

Is this Business Right For You?

Those who have an inherent love of the sport and a genuine interest in how different equipment can improve a person's game. Tennis is an excellent way to keep fit, and a welcome change from traditional team sports.

What happens during a typical day at a tennis shop?

A general day will be spent handling customers, but shop owners also need to devote time to marketing, inventory, and researching new brands and trends in tennis gear.

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful tennis shop?

Owners should have at least some experience in specialty retail stores, as well as at least a general understanding of the game. Whether they played in college or took the sport up in their 30s, they'll want to be able to relate to customers who are serious about becoming the best player they can be.

What is the growth potential for a tennis shop?

Growth potential can be significant for those who open in the right area. While people may be able to find equipment online cheaper than the prices of your shop, customers still find value in talking to a salesperson who can help them improve their game.

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Take the Next Step

Find a business mentor

One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.

Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.

What are some insider tips for jump starting a tennis shop?

One of the biggest hurdles to cross will be that of finding the right location for the shop. You’ll need to look for a relatively wealthy neighborhood that either doesn’t already have a shop in the area or that is being underserved by the current choices. It's entirely possible to open a shop in a solidly middle-class area, but tennis pros and equipment can be expensive enough that the profit margins won’t be worth it. Visit the competition to see what they're doing and make notes as to how you would do it better. Design a layout for your customers that is neither too cluttered nor too bare, so they can browse without stress.

Look for ways to give customers value above and beyond what they’re used to getting. Going online to put together a tennis outfit, restring a racket, or buy a new bag isn't nearly as satisfying as the instant gratification that comes from visiting a single shop with knowledgeable salespeople. Owners should also make it a point to get to know the people of the area. In the electronic era, it’s becoming harder and harder to spark loyalty in customers. Putting in the extra effort for everyone who steps into the store will give you a better idea of what the community cares about, so you can better tailor your services to them.

Finally, look for different angles you can use to set yourself apart. Maybe you’ve hired a savvy pro with incredible credentials. Maybe you’re stocking brands that no other store carries. Maybe you make your own rackets and sell them exclusively at your store. If you’re opening up in a colder climate, make sure community members are aware of available indoor areas so they can keep their game sharp. Consider offering group lessons so people don’t have to pay for a private instructor.

How and when to build a team

The team should be built sooner rather than later. Look for sales associates who play the game already and who understand the art of customer services. Be prepared to pay for the most qualified candidates! The other option is for a pro to open a shop on their own and keep limited hours. In this case, the owner could consider doing a ‘By Appointment Only’ store where they service individuals based on their specific requests.

Next Steps

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