How SCORE helped. 

Hidemasters of Colorado is going into their 47th year of operation in Colorado Springs.  They have two locations; Chapel Hills Mall and Citadel Mall.  Hidemasters is one of the few remaining leather craftsman businesses in operation in Colorado and probably in the country.  Joe and Pat White own and operate the business they started following careers in the Air Force.  Throughout their military career, Leather had been a hobby for both and they have now turned their love into a business for nearly 5 decades.

Late last year, Joe reached out to SCORE with a request on a very sensitive topic, Pricing Strategy.  Joe was assigned to our SCORE Southern Colorado volunteer, Scott Sinning.  Scott’s background with a Fortune 500 company as a National and Regional leader on pricing strategy fit Joe’s request perfectly.

We had the chance to catch up with Joe to talk about his experience.  Following is a recap of our conversation:

Tell us about your business.

Hidemasters logo

We offer customized, hand crafted leather products such as wallets, belts, and notebooks.  Other accessories include guitar straps, rifle slings, key chains, pouches, dog collars and more.  Additionally, we sell knives and hats that we source from third parties.

How did you hear about SCORE and what influenced you to seek help from SCORE?

We had reached out to a local educational institution requesting information on pricing and unfortunately did not receive a response.  Early on, we had some interaction with SCORE when we had an SBA loan and a referral.  So, I reached out to them again.  It is FREE so why not take advantage of it.

We have a very successful business and we could continue to operate it just as we have with our normal updates and changes based on trends occurring the market.  One area, I always wanted to dive deeper into was developing a pricing strategy and look at alternative ways we could continue to be competitive and offering the best possible value to our consumers.  I decided I would see what SCORE has to offer.

Who was your mentor?

Scott Sinning reached out to us following our request.  Scott honed right in on the issue that we requested help on and began to help us look at pricing more strategically than before.  It isn’t just a ‘cost plus’ approach and the review forced us to look closer at the market dynamics for each of the product categories we handle.  We realized we cannot take a cookie cutter approach and simply apply the same pricing formulas for all products across the board.

How did SCORE Help you?

I cannot say that SCORE and Scott did all of this for us, however, I do not think it is merely coincidence that we increased our business significantly during our Christmas selling season.  In fact, it was the highest revenue Christmas season we have had in our 47 years. 

Sales continue well above historic numbers and we are again implementing some increases in conjunction with Scott’s advice. The best part is, if we have more questions or ideas we want to bounce off of him, Scott is available for those follow ups. 

Pat leather working

What Advice would you give to someone thinking about starting a business?

Spend time on the planning process to make sure there is a market for your product and that you have a point of differentiation that will be meaningful to your target audience.  Also, Keep it Simple Stupid (KISS); we all have a tendency to over complicate things and I am a proponent of the simpler the better.

Seek Advice.  Talk to people who have done this before or are currently successful in a business operation.  Obviously, SCORE is a great place to find this help.

Do It!  Once you have your plan, don’t let yourself get stuck in the mode of trying to figure every single thing out.  At some point, you have to make it work.

 

Man leather working

My Mentors