The idea of customers beating a path to your door is a bit outdated in this age of e-commerce and food trucks. Instead, companies are learning that they need to bring their business to the customer. But that's much easier said than done.
Charles Sidi's BizBox is lending a hand. Sidi has developed a portable, 6,000-pound retail shop that can be pulled by a large pickup truck to wherever potential customers may gather. While the concept is a fit for almost any retail company--the headphone manufacturer Skullcandy has used BizBox to sell gear in the parking lots of ski resorts, and the Phoenix Suns have used it to sell sports apparel and tickets, and to hold signings by players--Sidi thinks the product is particularly suited to franchises, and he has been marketing directly to them.
"Brick-and-mortar is not always the best solution, and it sometimes makes it hard for franchises to grow," explains Sidi, who believes franchises should instead start thinking in terms of "brick-and-mobile." "The BizBox can help grow them. It's a low-cost solution to get a franchise up and running quickly, to reach customers directly, and it opens up a whole new set of options."
The BizBox can take on almost any type of configuration and can be outfitted with kitchens, racks for apparel or other display options. The first franchise to buy into the concept was Granite Transformations, a kitchen and bathroom remodeling service that hopes to use the Box as a mobile showroom.
Sidi sees the Box fitting in at outdoor festivals and indoor trade shows, and thinks it could even be set up as a temporary arrangement for a franchise looking to create buzz as it builds a permanent location.
"The whole goal is about speed and efficiency," Sidi says. "Our unit can be set up in 15 or 20 minutes. It's a great solution for companies that have to set up tents or tables or carry around a mobile unit in a gas-guzzling semi truck."
In fact, the BizBox can be configured to operate as a self-sustaining unit. Sidi's original company, Sidi Spaces, is a green design specialist, and he developed the Box according to the LEED principles he works with every day. "We have solar options, LED lights, natural glass," he says. "We're all about innovation. We can fit the Box out however the customer wants."
Jason Daley lives and writes in Madison, Wisconsin. His work regularly appears in Popular Science, Outside and other magazines.