Opportunity Knocks: Couple Buys Established Pinot’s Palette Studio in Ellicott City, MDPinot's Palette
“Present opportunities are not to be neglected; they rarely visit us twice,” Voltaire said.
Rod Vese and Lisa Pape may not have been reading 18th century philosophy when opportunity knocked on their door, but they still embraced Voltaire’s advice. The couple had visited various paint and sip studios and particularly enjoyed relaxing evenings at the Pinot’s Palette® in Ellicott City, Maryland – so when they heard the studio was up for sale, they were quick to take the opportunity. Purchasing an existing studio would allow them to jump into their dream of owning a business together, knowing studio buildout, permit acquisition, and employee recruitment was already taken care of.
Full Speed Ahead
The couple knew other customers were interested in purchasing the studio. They wasted no time in signing up for Discovery Day and forging ahead with the purchase. “Lisa and I are both kind of full speed ahead people,” Rod says. “This just all fell into place as quickly as possible.”
Rod and Lisa found the process of purchasing the studio went much smoother than they anticipated, with few kinks to work out. “The studio was up and running in a beautiful, upscale area in our community. It was well taken care of,” Lisa says.
A full cast of seasoned employees only added to the established studio’s appeal. “We kept on all of the employees, everyone that wanted to stay,” Rod says. “We’ve added a couple since we opened. Pinot’s Palette has a good reputation and young artists look at this as a good opportunity.”
Plunging into Ownership
One significant difference between purchasing an existing studio and starting a new one is the time involved from hopping on board to running a successful business. Most franchisees anticipate months spent readying their studio for opening. Rod and Lisa signed paperwork one day and were open for business the next day.
Rod likens the experience to buying a new car and driving it off the lot versus buying a bunch of parts and building a car. “Starting a new studio involves all the nuts and bolts of finding space, signing a lease, and getting contractors,” he says. “In this situation, this car was built and full of gas and ready to go. That’s a huge part of why this was attractive to us.”
The couple recalls that the only hurdles in taking over the studio were administrative tasks—like getting a handle on bookkeeping. “What folks really need to know is the behind-the-scenes stuff—money and sales,” Lisa says. “My biggest piece of advice is to learn the administrative functions as soon as possible.”
Growing Success through Support
With such a fast track to ownership, Rod and Lisa had to conquer the franchisee learning curve quickly. But they found Pinot’s Palette headquarters and their fellow franchisees a source of tremendous support. “Headquarters business support is phenomenal,” Lisa says. “And we also used our fellow business owners across the U.S. as resources. I can’t tell you how many times other owners have helped us with little tips like how to keep paint fresh or where to buy canvases. It’s a fantastic family that we’ve reached out to.”
In the year since they purchased the studio, Rod and Lisa have found the Pinot’s Palette culture a relaxing change of pace from the corporate roles of their previous careers. “The dreams we had when we bought the place are all coming true,” Rod says. “It’s a fun business with fantastic people. It’s been nice meeting people and getting involved with the community, even giving back through fundraisers. All the things we thought would be great about it are great.”
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