As a business owner, choosing a location to house your business is one of the most important decisions you need to make. Establishing where on the map your office, showroom or store should be placed is more than just choosing a building you like and the cost of rent.
Before you start looking through commercial rental listings, create a detailed plan of what you need, what you don’t want, what’s on the wish-list and what you’re prepared to pay. You’ll also need to pair this plan with an image of your target customer to ensure your businesses location appeals to your buyers too.
Spend the time developing this picture, and you’ll have a much better chance of establishing a successful business, rather than making costly start-up mistakes that are difficult to repair.
Here’s our business owner’s guide to help you find the right location of your next venture.
Create a demographic profile of your target market
Picture your ideal customer and consider how important being close to your business is for them. For a retailer selling fresh produce, being in close proximity is vital. For a business that doesn’t rely on regular foot traffic like an accountancy firm, it’s less important.
If you’re unsure of your target market, go snoop out the customers of your competitor. Position yourself near their shop or office and watch who comes in and out. Note down their gender, age and appearance. Find out how they got there – did they walk, catch a bus or drive?
Study three or more locations
It might seem obvious and practical to open your business in the area you live or currently work, but it’s worth studying three locations to ensure you’ve chosen the right one. Look at the local community of each area. Has it got the population to support your business? Are they of the demographic you’re targeting? Do they shop locally or are they prepared to travel?
Consider the employees you may need to run your business. Do the people in these locations have the skills required for your business? Will they need to travel to your store or office space? Is there housing in an affordable price range for employees who wish to move closer?
Analyse the foot traffic
If you’re opening a retail space, analysing the foot traffic of the location is crucial. It can also be helpful for businesses that require confidentiality as you’re less likely to want to be in a high-traffic position. Position yourself at your potential location and note down the foot and vehicle traffic. Do this at different days of the week and times.
Access the location’s visibility
Visibility is one of the key reasons for rental prices as the more of the store your customers can see, the better it is. A store with street frontage for example, is likely to be more expensive than one in the back corner of a shopping centre.
If a premium store is beyond your budget, consider how you can market the business through signage, lighting and promotional materials.
Investigate accessibility and parking
How accessible is your proposed location to your customers, staff and suppliers? Is it easy for deliveries to be made? Can your customers and employees park on the site or is the enough street parking to encourage customers to shop at your store?
Do you have access to the building at the days and hours you would like? For example, if you want the flexibility to go into the office on the weekends to catch up on some work, will the building be open?
Check out the neighbouring businesses
Check out whether there are neighbouring stores who attract your target demographic. Are there direct competitors or businesses with a similar aesthetic in this location? Are there stores you can take advantage of customer overflow, like restaurants?
Research the businesses that have recently failed in the area too. Establish whether they failed; was it due to the location or their business model? If four clothing stores recently failed and you’re planning to open one similar, you’ll want to get a clear picture of what went wrong before you sign a lease.