Sugar Land Franchisee Stays Ahead in a Competitive Market

Sugar Land Franchisee Stays Ahead in a Competitive Market

“When we first opened, a lot of customers kept asking us about our prices.  I didn’t understand why until one of them told me, ‘This is just so much nicer than that other studio – I just assumed that you’d charge a lot more.”

Diana Vasquez had never heard of Pinot’s Palette until about two years ago.  Vasquez was working full-time at a hospital and working on her MBA degree, and a friend suggested a trip to a paint-and-sip studio as a way to get some much-needed stress relief.

“I had some crazy term papers due – I was so stressed out,” recalls Vasquez.  “One of my friends said, ‘Let’s go drink wine and paint.’  So, we went and I was so impressed.  It was a huge stress reliever.  I was totally sold on the concept.  We painted Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss, and I bought a frame and hung it on my wall.  And then I went back again and again. ”

Vasquez quickly became a regular customer at the Galleria-area Pinot’s Palette, and the walls of her home began to fill with framed paintings she brought home from her classes.  And then one day, when she was on the Pinot’s Palette website getting ready to register for her next class, she decided to look into opening a franchise of her own.

“There’s a tab on the website near the one you click to register for a class that says ‘franchise,’ and I clicked on it,” she says.  “I loved what I saw.  I told my husband that it was something I thought I could do.”

Her husband agreed, so Vasquez moved on to the next step:  checking out the competition.

“Pinot’s Palette Offers the Best Customer Experience”

Although she was fairly certain that Pinot’s Palette was the right fit for her, Vasquez spent several months researching a few other paint-and-sip studios in the area.  She signed up for classes at a locally owned mom-and-pop studio as well as other franchise opportunities that compete directly with Pinot’s Palette.  She says it didn’t take long for her to decide that Pinot’s Palette was the obvious choice.

“It’s a similar concept, but Pinot’s Palette offers the best customer experience,” says Vasquez.  At one competitor’s studio, she had trouble following along with the artist running the class. Her painting didn’t turn out anything like she had hoped – a problem that she’s never had as a customer at Pinot’s Palette.  Vasquez says she later learned that the Master Painting Library and painting instructions provided at Pinot’s Palette are designed to enhance the customer’s experience.

Another notable difference?  The amenities.   As Vasquez quickly learned, not all paint-and-sip studios are created equally.  While some Pinot’s Palette competitors offer lower start-up costs, the result is a customer experience that leaves much to be desired.  “At one class, there was just a radio at the front of the room,” she says.  “Pinot’s Palette has a full surround sound system with continuous Top 40 music to sing along to – no commercials, no interruptions.  This other studio didn’t have that – and they didn’t provide wine glasses, utensils, or complementary water.”

After several weeks of sizing up the competition, Vasquez knew that Pinot’s Palette was the right fit.  She contacted the company and started the process of becoming a Pinot’s Palette franchisee.

Staying Ahead of the Competition

Every new Pinot’s Palette franchisee finds that there are unique challenges and opportunities that come with owning a Pinot’s Palette studio.  For some franchisees, it’s finding just the right location.  For others, it’s navigating the local liquor laws.  For Diana Vasquez, it was competition from another national paint-and-sip franchise that had been in the area for about two years.

One way to stand out was to select a good location – a task that, according to Vasquez, turned out to be pretty easy.  In fact, she and her husband decided on a site almost immediately:  Sugar Land’s upscale Town Square shopping area.  Town Square was Vasquez’ “dream location” – it was near several popular bars and restaurants, and it had a reputation for being selective.

“I think if you’re a new owner and you know that you’re going into a competitive market, you have to look at your location,” she says.  “You have to look at where people are going, where they’re spending their money.”
But a trendy location isn’t the only thing that makes Vasquez’ studio stand out:  Overall, for about the same price, customers get a much better experience at Pinot’s Palette.

“When we first opened, a lot of customers kept asking us about our prices,” says Vasquez.  “I didn’t understand why until one of them told me, ‘This is just so much nicer than that other studio – I just assumed that you’d charge a lot more.’”

Vasquez says her customers appreciate the upscale details that other paint-and-sip franchises tend to overlook.   “Our studio is awesome – it’s huge, and the stools are comfortable.  We have more of an upscale vibe.  Our painting selection is excellent, and we use higher quality art supplies.  We have actual wine glasses instead of plastic cups,” she says.  “We also have assigned seating, so when you walk in, your name is written on a little chalkboard at your table.  People take pictures of it.  They love to see their names.”

A Voice for Franchisees: The Pinot’s Palette Franchise Council

In addition to managing her studio’s day-to-day operations, Vasquez says she has become actively involved in the Pinot’s Palette franchise council.  Her business background (including positions as a board member at several nonprofit organizations) makes her uniquely qualified to weigh in on issues related to new company strategies and policies.  Her involvement in the franchisee council also gives her a unique support network and an opportunity to share best practices with other franchise owners across the country.

“With support and guidance from the Pinot’s Palette team, I feel very confident – and that’s a feeling that you don’t get in a lot of franchises.” she says.  “It’s very rewarding to sit in my studio and look around and see that my hard work has paid off.”

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