No Such Thing as a Sure Thing

larsens1The family and I are spending the month in Venice Beach. We drove down last night, 18 hours straight. We were going to stop in Vegas, but powered through and I’m glad we did.

On the way we stopped at a burger joint called Larsen’s Frostop, in St. George UT.   It was an old school place, complete with a giant neon sign out front.

It was a funky place. Walking in made you feel like you were going back in time. With the exception of the video games and the new POS system it felt like nothing had changed in 45 years. You could smell the grease from the grill.  The menu behind the counter was the old school plastic menu’s where you change manually by spelling out the words with the little red plastic numbers and letters. One of the employees even had one of those old school change dispensing belts on.

While ordering, I asked Kara, the girl at the register if the same family had owned it since the beginning. She said no, there had been 4 owners. Uh, interesting I thought to myself.   But, then Kara said; “One until 2005, then 3 since.”  That got my attention. The first owner ran the joint successfully for 40 years while two owners have failed at it and the most recent owner is trying his hardest to make it.

I didn’t get all the information on the two failed owners, but Kara did say the last owner never showed up.  She said he tried hiring someone else to run the place for him.  She also said the newest owners seemed to be getting it right and doing well.

Buying a successful business is no guarantee you are going to make it. There is no such thing as a sure thing. Just because you buy a business that is successful, has a strong clientele, is in a good location, and has committed employees, doesn’t mean it will be successful for you. Running a business takes execution, it takes time, and especially for a Mom & Pop burger joint it takes passion.

Money can’t buy you a killer business. It can only give you the chance to keep from screwing up a killer business.

If you are ever in St. George UT, stop at Larsen’s and order 2 Prince Burgers with one of their famous FrostTops.

While you’re at it, ask Kara how many owners there have been. I hope she says 4. That means the new owner has gotten it right and a great old school burger joint has a chance to make it another 40 years.