July 2011 Specific Location Considerations
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Specific Location Considerations

By Steve Strauss. ARCHIVE:

Down the street from me there is a building that has been, in the past two years

  • A sushi bar
  • A French bistro
  • A coffee joint, and
  • A taqueria

I would bet that the different entrepreneurs who opened these ventures thought they were getting a steal on the rent in this location, but the fact is, some locations are, shall we say, jinxed? You know the ones - no matter what business moves into that location, it seems to last for a few months before closing up shop. You must avoid these locations, as, no matter what you do, the local clientele will already have preconceived notions about your business. It doesn't matter how low the rent is, it's still a bum deal.

Last week in this space, I discussed some general consideration that a business must take into account when choosing a location, above and beyond the rent. This week I want to drill down a little more and look at the specific things you want to consider when looking at various locations for your business:

Population and Demographics: Will there be enough people to support the business? What has been the reaction and fate of similar businesses in the area?

Traffic. You want the site to be near some centers of activity. My father owned a chain of carpet stores when I was growing up, and he loved to be across the street from malls. He figured that he got the benefit of the mall's advertising and traffic, but without the high rent of actually being in the mall. Is there public transportation nearby?

Competition. Where is your competition located? Fast-food restaurants often like being bunched together, but print shops usually like to be the only one in the neighborhood. Are there too many competitors nearby?

Visibility. Make sure your potential location is visible from major roads.

Signs. You need to be sure that there are no restrictions in the lease or the law that will limit your ability to post adequate signs for your new business.

Zoning. The spot, obliviously, needs to be zoned for your type of business (see below.)

Appearance. Is there adequate parking? Is there a bathroom for the public? Make sure the place is landscaped well, has adequate outdoor lighting, and has appropriate businesses nearby.

Interior Design. A well-designed display of merchandise can make shopping easier for the customer and boost sales. So be sure to review the flow of customer traffic. A free-flowing pattern has better visual appeal and allows customers to move around, while aisles offer better merchandise presentation.

Rent: Of course rent is important, but the takeaway is that you want to avoid picking a location simply because the rent is cheap; that should not be your main consideration. While keeping your overhead low is indeed a key to success in business a cheap, bad location is similarly a key to failure.