Photo by mikebaird

Photo by mikebaird

Part 7 of this series is an interesting one, as it focuses on a sport which is not very familiar to me and can be considered “niche”. This sport is surfing and the business in question is one of selling surfboards in Melbourne, Australia. The business is owned by a guy called Zak Koniaris (“Zak”), who is an avid surfer himself. His shop sells everything surfing related, from the surfboards itself to the associated paraphernalia. The shop also repairs and “enhances” surfboards, so it provides such value-added services to customers too.

Zak is interested in expanding his business but he does not really know how to go about it. He maintains that if the business falls apart, he will go look for a “real” job. He was asking James to help him on certain areas, specifically on systems, strategy and “what’s next” in terms of moving up the value chain. James did a simple test to find out the value of Zak’s brand, by visiting a nearby town called Thorngrey and if the people in that town had heard of Zak. It would seem he has a somewhat loyal following in this small town, with people mentioning good things about him and his surfboards. Considering he shapes his own brand of surfboards (branded “Zak”) and also provides advice on surfing and other repair services, I would say Zak’s store can be considered a one-stop shop for surfing enthusiasts.

There are a few competitors in the region, namely Surf City and Ripcurl; but since surfing is an intensely personal sport, it was possible for Zak to build up a loyal base of “fans” in spite of the competition around him. Michael Van Der Klooster gives his opinion on Zak’s surfboards, saying that it is a great brand but that Zak will need to create more awareness in order to further boost sales. James Sun highlighted that a very famous surfboard maker, Maurice Cole, had exactly the characteristics which Zak would like to emulate and learn from – a high profile clientele base, high quality products and unique designs. Thus, Zak needs to start planning his strategy, as simple questions posed to Zak from James shows that he doesn’t even know the exact value of his inventory! He is a boss who gets along well with his employees but has no idea of the margins or revenues, and this cannot go on if the business is to expand and grow. (A consultant Matt Rockman, was brought in to observe Zak’s business, and commented that there was no proper strategy in place, with the shop feeling “congested” and stock lying around “everywhere”). Read more…