Steamboat’s Black Tie Ski Rental Grows Through Licensing

Black Tie Ski Rental’s model for growth recently was featured in Steamboat Today. According to Ian Prichard, co-founder of Black Tie Ski Rentals and president of its licensing company, the licensing model that Black Tie has created allows for “personal touches that come out of having 13 independently owned and operated locations.” The story continues to note that “now represented in ski towns in California, Utah, Colorado, Montana and British Columbia, Black Tie’s decision to start licensing its brand and system has proved successful for the Steamboat company and its individual owners.”

Prichard and co-founder Joe Sternberg originally didn’t envision the company growing through licensing, however when a past employee approached them about expanding the business to Big Sky, Montana the model for growth was born. In the beginning, “The branding, the proprietary scheduling software built for ski delivery, Web services, and the experience and support of the founders all went into the deal. Now, the licensed locations also pay into a national marketing fund, customers benefit from the ability to share account information across locations, and all the owners take a yearly retreat together. Unlike a franchise, the licensed locations have a lot of flexibility.”

The benefit to consumers is that “Owners can experiment with what works for their market and share those successes and failures with the rest of the locations.” As the article continues, “without the rigidity of a franchise agreement, maintaining the high level of service Prichard has tried to create with Black Tie requires placing trust in the owners.”

For example, the model allows the Black Tie Steamboat team to experiment with new products and offerings for its clients. They have a valet arrangement with One Steamboat place at the base of the mountain and this year “other new initiatives are some custom Black Tie Ski Rentals skis from Meier, a Glenwood Springs company that turns beetle-killed wood into powder boards. If the custom skis do well, it could be another idea to pass on to other owners.”

Although Black Tie already offers 13 locations throughout North America, there are two key markets where they would like to expand their licensing program – Jackson, Wyo. and Sun Valley, Idaho.

Prichard concludes, “The number 15 is such a nice, round number but I would be totally happy with 13 if we never opened another.”

For the complete article written by Michael Schrantz from Steamboat Today, please click here.