With the rising popularity of e-commerce, people aren't motivated to visit brick-and-mortar stores unless they have to. "Retail businesses in particular can suffer, especially if people find it difficult to locate on their mobile phones," says Greg Pond, a leading Stapleton commercial real estate broker. In short, even in the modern technology-driven world, having a great location is a must for many businesses.
Unfortunately, most first-time entrepreneurs are so engrossed in creating a flawless business plan and securing seed capital that the search for the right location often comes as an afterthought. However, it is one of the most important factors that will determine the success or failure of your business. That's why finding the best location should be the first thing on your list.
Here are seven tips that will help you find the best location for your business.
1. Consider the Nature of Your Business
The nature of your business is one of the most important factors to consider when zeroing in on a location. The potential location must be consistent with your style of operation and brand image. For example, if your burger joint is going to offer takeaways, a shop on the main street with a driveway and some parking space is the most suitable option for you. On the other hand, a cosmetics store can operate from a shopping mall.
2. Research the Daily Foot Traffic
You must also find out whether or not enough potential customers pass by the location of your choice, particularly if you are running a retail business. Even the best malls and shopping centers have dead spots. To check whether a potential location draws enough footfalls, monitor the traffic outside it for at least a week at different times of the day. Noting down the traffic characteristics for an entire week will help you understand the pattern of footfall during weekdays and weekends.
3. Analyze Population Demographics
The population demographic is as crucial to the success of your business as the daily footfalls. If the human traffic near the potential location doesn't fall under your targeted number of consumers, your business won’t last long.
A careful analysis of the population demographics will provide you with valuable information about the locals such as their monthly income, economic stability, age, profession, and lifestyle. With the help of a business location analysis tool, you can quickly complete the demographic analysis without leaving the comfort of your home.
This analysis will also help you understand whether or not you can hire local talent to operate and grow your business. Local talent is certainly cheaper and more accessible. Besides, hiring locals also builds a sense of trust with other local customers.
4. Out of Sight, out of Mind
The more visible your location is, the more customers your business can acquire. That's why inside corner spots in shopping malls are usually cheaper than the units facing the street. If your budget permits, try to acquire the most premium spot in the selected building or area. However, the scope of visibility will change from business to business. For example, a jewelry shop may benefit immensely from a premium spot inside the mall. A small fast-food restaurant located near the mall, however, can tap into the traffic moving in and out of the mall at a relatively cheaper location cost.
But, visibility is not limited to traffic or footfalls. Nearly 72% of consumers who did a local search visited a store within five miles of them. So, even small businesses need to make sure that they are noticeable on the map. The next time you plan a visit to a store, use your mobile GPS to reach your potential location. After all, there is no better way to verify if it shows up on the map.
5. Stay Away from Competitors
Some businesses such as clothing retailers or fast-food chains may benefit from comparison shopping. These establishments can also funnel the customers from your competitors. Still, you should try to steer clear of competitors, particularly if you are a first-time entrepreneur.
If the neighboring businesses cater to the same customers (different products though), their existing clients can become your customers too. Sometimes their employees can become your customers. For example, a gourmet restaurant located near a law firm can serve their high-end clientele as well as employees. The neighboring businesses may also provide your employees with conveniences such daycare centers for children, restaurants for lunch, and public parking, among others.
6. Consider Accessibility and Amenities
You must make sure that the potential location is easily accessible not only to your customers, but also your employees and suppliers. Make sure there is ample and easily accessible parking space for everyone even during the rush hours because your neighboring businesses, such as restaurants, may absorb the parking space during these hours.
The potential location should also be at a walking distance from the nearest bus stops and metro stations. Plus, you will need to find out about the cooling and heating systems, power supply, building maintenance, and security, among other things. Ensure all of these amenities are well-maintained.
7. Check Your Wallet
What good is a location with all these amenities if it doesn't fit your budget? So, you need to consider utilities and other costs along with the rent when choosing a business location. You may also have to think about potential repairs and renovations. Find out what neighboring business are paying to get an idea of how much room you have for negotiations. Don't go ahead with your decision unless you have considered all the location-based expenses.
The location of your store is one of the most critical factors that can make or break your entrepreneurial dream. After all, a lot of factors including the ease of operation, customer footfalls, brand image, and customer satisfaction are closely related to location. In short, choosing the right location is well worth the effort. These seven tips will help you find the best location for your business. Don't forget to share your experiences of finding the ideal location for your business in the comments section below.