No matter where you choose to locate, the right home turf can make or break your business. While deciding may seem like a daunting process, it’s easier when broken down into manageable steps. Here are six you can follow to make sure you get it right.
1. Think Like A Home Buyer
Remember the phrase, ‘location, location, location?’ It applies to businesses as well as homes. Location is the most important criteria to consider, so it pays to do your homework. Research the neighborhood or surrounding area. Get traffic pattern information and crime statistics from local law authorities. Ask your business insurance agent for any data that can help you decide. If you can spare the time, spend a weekend ‘casing’ the place to get a handle on the ebb and flow of customers.
2. Network With Business Owners
As long as they’re not competitors, fellow business owners can be helpful resources when you’re trying to decide where to locate. Considering a strip mall? Ask other owner-occupants about the customers who visit. Find out more about the landlord and any stipulations to leasing space. If you’re considering space that was once occupied, ask why the previous business left. Find out if the space can accommodate infrastructure needs, like wifi, electrical hookups, heating and refrigeration.
3. Poll Your Customers
If you’re considering adding another location, get insights from your current customers by asking if they’d visit. Find out if they’d refer friends in the area or if they’d prefer you locate elsewhere. One way to do this is through surveys or with the help of a market research consultant. If you choose to do it yourself, SurveyMonkey is one of many online resources you can access.
4. Follow Your Gut (But Give Your Brain Veto Power)
Perhaps there’s a vacant building you just know would the perfect location for your start-up micro brewpub. Everything from the cream city brick to the wrought iron stair rails screams cha-ching! While your instincts may be right, temper your enthusiasm just enough to do due diligence. Nothing flattens a brewpub dream more than hidden problems like asbestos or a failing roof.
5. Follow the Competition
When the notorious Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, his answer, “because that’s where the money is,” was profoundly simple. Choosing where to locate your business can be just as straightforward. By sidling up to the nearest big competitor (i.e. where the money is), your business can benefit from their research. In essence, they’ve done the work for you. While it’s not quite robbery, it is a legal and competitive way to pick your competitor’s pockets.
6. Get a Good Attorney
Once you’ve decided on a location, an attorney familiar with leases, rentals or offers to buy can help you navigate the legal end of expanding. Landlords and sellers are a mixed lot, and for every one that operates above board and honestly, there are others who may not live up to these standards. While you may pay more for a lawyer who can help you navigate the landscape, it’s money well spent.
Whether you’re opening your first shop or adding to a long chain of businesses, location will always be critical. Consider these steps and you’ll end up in a good place.