Roger and Nikki Wise Roll Toward Success in Reno

Roger and Nikki Wise Roll Toward Success in Reno

Two defense contractors with little artistic ability walk into a paint and sip studio. It sounds like the start of a strange joke, but the success Roger and Nikki Wise have achieved in the nine months since opening their Reno Pinot’s Palette is no joke. The couple’s first encounter with paint and sip came when they visited a local “Mom and Pop” studio a few years ago. They let the idea simmer for a while, but when the Wises decided to act on it, they acted as quickly as possible.

Like many people attracted to the idea of owning a paint and sip studio, the Wises initially considered forging ahead without the assistance of a franchise. “We immediately went to that ‘Mom and Pop’ mentality,” Roger says, “Our first thought was that we could do it better and cheaper.” But Roger said that as the couple weighed the pros and cons of purchasing a franchise versus developing their own concept, they realized that a franchise was a better match for their experience and skills.

So they decided to put an inquiry in with Pinot’s Palette. “They were so responsive and answered our questions right out of the gate,” says Roger. “We never even considered any other franchise.”

With determined, goal-oriented personalities, Roger and Nikki made the decision to open their studio on a fast-paced construction schedule. But they also knew that they’d have to pay attention to the details:  With other paint and sip competition in town, they would need to emphasize the upscale touches that set Pinot’s Palette apart.

Wise Lessons Learned

The Wises achieved one of the fastest studio openings in Pinot’s Palette history. The couple says that the biggest factor in their quick opening was having the liquid assets needed to fund the studio, which allowed them to pay cash for their franchise fee and real estate expenses. But even with liquid assets available, the couple still went above and beyond the standard studio buildout.

“We decided that if we’re gonna do this in this town, we didn’t want to be just another paint and sip,” Roger says, “We wanted to be THE paint and sip and have features and luxuries that none of the others have.” It’s always better to plan for more than what you think you will need, Roger recommended.

The Wises’ studio is 3,000 square feet, and it has a second room that can hold nearly three dozen people. The extra-large studio is topped off with an extra-large – and extra visible – banner sign.

The Wise’s liked the Pinot Difference, the little things that Pinot’s Palette offers that make a big difference to the customers: assigned seating and branded wine glasses, paint brushes, and paint. They greet customers at the door and have received an enthusiastic response upon the introduction of the Pinot Perks Rewards Program, which allows customers to earn reward points that they can use toward the purchase of future classes or accessories like frames or wine glasses.

Even though their studio has only been open nine months, the Wises have learned plenty of lessons, which they’re eager to share with new franchisees. They encourage new franchisee partners to plan on hiring more artists than they think they’ll need, in order to build a large talent pool and account for employee attrition.

“We hired a few people because they were nice people to be around, but that by itself isn’t enough,” Roger says, emphasizing that it’s important to observe artists interacting with guests early in the hiring process. The key to a successful artist is to be engaging and entertaining for the customers. And Nikki says it’s important to look beyond the resume when evaluating applicants. “Go with your gut instinct,” she says.

Raking-in Mobile Business

Another word of advice from the Wises’ experience: Networking is key.

“We know that’s it all about marketing and presence in the community,” Roger says, pointing to Nikki’s membership in the eWomenNetwork as a particularly beneficial connection. The couple recommends studio owners explore a local chapter of this networking group. “This is a tremendous group of women who believe that we should lift each other up as we grow,” Nikki says, “I have made so many friendships with other women business owners and they were quick to welcome me to their tribe.” She stresses that the group networks with the purpose of introducing themselves to others and asking for help in areas where they lack expertise.

Some of the Wises’ successful networking has involved reaching out to local casinos and hotels. After learning that most casinos were interested in on-site events, the couple obtained their mobile license from Pinot’s Palette and invested in additional equipment to enable mobile events. Now the Wises are conducting events for hundreds of casino VIPs.

“The casino owners basically told us they have a very large budget to spend on VIPs to keep them happy, and they’re looking for new and creative ways to entertain them,” Roger says. “If you have the ability to provide mobile entertainment it really opens a lot of doors.”

Marriage of Skills

While networking with the community is important for growing their business, the Wises have also worked to achieve successful business communication with each other. They admit that dividing the workload was challenging at first, since Roger stuck with his corporate job until the studio was up and running. But he recently joined Nikki full-time at Pinot’s Palette and says the change “feels very free.”

Though they understand that working with one’s spouse carries the potential for conflict, Roger and Nikki have proven to be as successful business partners as they are marriage partners. “My wife is one of the most organized people I’ve ever met. As far as planning and staffing, she’s amazing at that,” Roger says, “I have a technology background so I’m savvy at marketing and internet. We bring separate skill sets to the table.”

Roger advises couples running a franchise to divide up the workload and not duplicate one another’s efforts. “Divide and conquer. That’s our motto,” he says.

And while they acknowledge that there’s a good deal of hard work involved in owning your own business, the couple is relishing their headstrong pursuit of their dream. With an excellent manager in place, they now enjoy the luxury of travel to far flung destinations like Honduras and St. Martin, all while scheduling classes and keeping tabs on the studio beachside. And the couple hasn’t let their current success stop their dreams for the future. “One day we want to use this as an income stream and retire and just hang out on the beach,” Roger says.

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