Wondering how to start a jail equipment business? We take you step-by-step from start to success.
Prison Industry Overview
There are currently more than 2 million inmates housed in local, state and federal prisons throughout the U.S. According to some estimates, the U.S. holds 25% of the world's prison population even though the country contains only 5% of the world's total population.
Based on these numbers, it's not difficult to see why business is booming for prisons as well as the businesses that supply them with necessary equipment and materials inventories. However, the prison and jail equipment industry is unique in the sense that equipment suppliers aren't distributors, but fabricators that often design and manufacture custom prison equipment to meet the needs of individual facilities.
In most cases, the ability to customize prison equipment is a practical necessity given the fact that penal standards vary from one state to the next. In order to maximize your startup's geographic reach, you'll need to maximize your fabrication and customization abilities, and acquire a general awareness of prison building codes for each state in which you do business.
Market Penetration Tips for Jail Equipment Suppliers
The prison equipment and supply industry is a close-knit business community. New entrants to the marketplace need to demonstrate competency as well as the ability to bring something new or unique to the table.
- Facility Requirements. Prison equipment suppliers are required to meet strict delivery deadlines and quality benchmarks. In order for your startup to be taken seriously, you'll need to demonstrate that your facility has the equipment and labor resources to keep pace with project workloads and capacity demands – without sacrificing the quality of your deliverables.
- Industry Relationships. Industry relationships are essential resources for new jail equipment providers. Trade organizations like the American Jail Association create opportunities to interface with a mix of prison industry stakeholders ranging from correction officers to government officials.
- Portfolio Development. To attract prospective customers, you will need to fabricate samples of doors, bunks, cabinets, benches and other pieces of equipment, and showcase them in a portfolio. Your portfolio of sample products needs to be prominently displayed on your business website and featured throughout your printed marketing collateral (e.g. brochures, newsletters, catalogs).
Writing Tips for a Jail Equipment Company Business Plan
Your new jail equipment business needs a business plan. But if you've never drafted a business plan before, the process can be intimidating.
But here's the good news: With a few tips, any entrepreneur can create a successful plan for their business. If you can get past the mystique, you'll see that a business plan just describes where your jail equipment business is headed and how you intend to get there.
Once your business plan is in place, you can use it for a variety of funding and planning functions.
As a launching point, take a look at the sample business plans other business owners have used to achieve success.
Evaluate the Competition
Prior to opening a jail equipment business within your community, it's essential to find out how strong the competition is. We've provided the link below to help you find competitors nearby. Just enter your city, state and zip code to get a list of jail equipment businesses in your community.
How tough is the competition in the market you are considering? If the competition is too tough, you may need to think about starting the business in a different area or even start a completely different business instead.
Studying the Market
If you want to open a jail equipment business the next step is to learn as much as you can from somebody who is already in the business. If you think owners of nearby jail equipment businesses will give you advice, think again. The last thing they want to do is help you to be a better competitor.
But, a person who owns a jail equipment business outside of your community may be willing to share their entrepreneurial wisdom with you, as long as they don't view you as a competitive threat. In fact, they are often very willing to share startup advice with you. In my experience, you may have to call ten business owners in order to find one who is willing to share his wisdom with you.
Where does one find somebody who runs a jail equipment business in another city who you can speak with?
Easy. Find them using our link below and start calling until you are successful.
Purchasing a Jail Equipment Business
At Gaebler, we're big advocates of buying a jail equipment business instead of a startup. Yet the process of buying a jail equipment business introduces a new set of challenges.
As you would expect, there are a number of steps in buying a business. To stay on track, you'll need to enlist the services of a business broker.
A good business broker serves a number of useful purposes. From locating available companies to helping seal the deal, your broker will have the experience and skills to help you successfully navigate the purchase process.
A franchise lets you take advantage of the franchisor's knowledge of the industry and a tested system for operating the business.
If you planning on starting a jail equipment business, it's worthwhile to assess whether purchasing a franchise might make it easy to get started.
The link below gives you access to our franchise directory so you can see if there's a franchise opportunity for you. You might even find something that points you in a completely different direction.
These additional resources regarding starting a business may be of interest to you.
If you sell to jail equipment businesses, you're in the wrong place. Try these resources instead:
If you are interested in starting a different kind of business, please browse our directory of guides below.