July 2011 Location
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Location, Location, Location

By Steve Strauss. ARCHIVE:

Recently, I had to move locations for my business and although it was not a fun experience, it was a profitable one. The lease in our old offices was running out and the landlord wanted to raise my rent. I explained that in this economy that was not a good idea. He didn't care.

But someone else did - a new landlord. I began to look around and found better digs at a better price, and with a landlord who was happy to have my business. He offered me a much better deal. My offices are now in a great part of town and everyone is happier.

Except, of course, my stubborn old landlord.

In this blog and the next few, I want to talk about how to secure a great location for your business, and by great, I mean anything - a great space, a great price, great signage - whatever great may mean to you.

And it is true that "great" can mean many different things. For instance, not all businesses need a great location; having affordable rent is greater. Conversely, retail businesses need to be in an area where there is a lot of walk-by or drive-by traffic - that's what makes them great - and as such, rental prices may be further down on the list. The Old Spaghetti Factory always seems to have its locations near a railroad, and you can bet one reason is because they pay much less for those properties. So there are many things to consider.

What to look for in a business location: When selecting a location, first and foremost, you must determine how important foot and car traffic will be to your business. A high profile location is important when impulse buying is part of your plan. Thus, a gas station needs a great location with a lot of traffic; a dentist does not.

Indeed, an out-of-the-way location can be a great choice for many businesses. Opening in a redeveloping urban area, for example, may allow you to benefit from tax breaks, or a grateful consumer base. Generally, if you are selling commonplace items (food, groceries, clothes, etc.) location is probably more important to you. If you are selling services, or specialized products, location should probably be less of a concern. 

There are many different sorts of locations that may have all of these questions already answered, such as shopping centers. While a shopping center or mall's can be a great spot for many businesses, you must weigh the benefits against the high cost of doing business in that location. Make sure you will be able to make a profit.

And what about your employees? What do they need from where they work? My friends here at Greatland for instance are in the business of making life easier for small business, and as a small business owner, that's what you need to think about too. Being a great employer allows you to attract the best possible employees, and that in turn can set your business apart.

So when it comes to locations insofar as your staff goes, there is actually a lot to consider. Among other things, you will want to make sure that there is adequate cell phone coverage in the area and that they have access to other necessary services. Other things to consider are:

  • Does the building have adequate restroom facilities and break rooms?
  • Can employees and suppliers get there easily?
  • Is there a shipping and receiving area?
  • Is there enough work space, phone jacks and electrical outlets for everyone?
  • Where will the crew go for lunch?
  • Does the facility comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act?
  • Is there room to expand if your business grows?

And what if yours is going to be a professional office? One smart option is an executive suite. Executive suites are small office spaces in office buildings that individuals or small companies can rent. Typically, each tenant has an individual office and shares the services of the executive suite's receptionist and use of the suite's joint conference room, copier, postage machine and other office equipment. All in all, it's a pretty good deal.

Bottom line: Too often small business people make their location decision based mostly on the cost of rent, and that's the mistake. The needs of your staff and customers must weigh in equally as much.

Next week we will look at the specific things to consider when choosing a location.